Biotech Updates

MHLW Japan Close to Commercial Approval of the First Genome-edited Fish

August 25, 2021

Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) is expected to approve the genome-edited red snapper (tai in Japanese) in September, allowing it to be distributed and sold commercially. Once approved, it will be the first genome-edited fish in the country. Japan has approved genome-edited GABA-rich tomato in March 2021.

Kyoto University, Kinki University, and other organizations have been working together to develop the genome-edited red snapper. The fish's flesh is enlarged by disabling myostatin, a protein that suppresses muscle growth. By simply feeding the fish with the same amount of food, the flesh of the fish increases about 1.5 times. This is expected to lead to cost reduction in red snapper production.

The genome-edited ones will be individually identified with tags and grown in aquaculture tanks on land, so they will not escape to the sea and crossbreed with natural ones. A panel of experts from MHLW will check to examine if there are any external genes that red snapper does not naturally possess, or if any new allergens have been created. If there are no problems, the application will be accepted. The actual date of sale in the market is yet to be determined.

The original news article in Japanese was published in Yomiuri Shimbun.

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