Biotech Updates

Japan May Allow Genome-edited Food Sale

December 19, 2018

Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare Expert Committee announced their proposal to allow most of the genome-edited currently under development to be marketed without safety screening by the state. It is expected that the proposal that would accelerate the creation of more nutritious and improved crops.

In the draft report of the Committee, the method to destroy target genes, including livestock products and fishery products, as well as agricultural crops was excluded from the regulation such as sales. Those products cannot be distinguished from traditional breeding improvement, because it occurs also in nature and regulation is difficult. However, even in this case, they will demand for notification. Penalties such as notification contents and notification can be set in fiscal 2019. Meanwhile, the method of adding genes from the outside is subject to the same regulation as those of genetically modified foods, requiring safety review by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. Products can be marketed after passing examination.

The new regulation is applied to domestic products or imported items in the same way. Individual safety assessment will be conducted by the Foods Safety Committee of the Cabinet Department upon request of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. The final decision is expected to be released by the end of March 2019.

For more information, contact Fusao Tomita at