Biotech Updates

Experts in Japan Conclude Gene-Edited Foods are Safe

March 20, 2019

As the global debate on regulation of gene-edited crops continues, countries such as the United States and Japan have come to the conclusion that foods from such crops would not need regulation.

An advisory panel from Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has recommended to allow gene-edited foodstuffs to be sold to consumers without safety evaluations as long as the techniques involved meet certain criteria. "There is little difference between traditional breeding methods and gene editing in terms of safety," said Hirohito Sone, an endocrinologist at Niigata University who chaired the expert panel.

Japan's final report on gene-edited foods has been approved, and an earlier draft states that no safety screening should be required provided the techniques used do not leave foreign genes or parts of genes in the target organism. The panel concluded it would be reasonable to require information on the editing technique, the genes targeted for modification, and other details from developers or users that would be made public while respecting proprietary information.

For more details, read the article in Science.