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Genetically modified organism (GMO) refers to a crop that has been transformed with transgenic technology. Although the use of transgenic technology has introduced the desirable properties of consumers or producers, the time for the application of transgenic crops to food is relatively short, and many countries are implementing safety reviews of genetically modified foods. Japan stipulates that only foods approved by the safety review can be circulated in the country.
In addition, consumers tend to stay away from genetically modified foods. In Japan, circulation of genetically modified foods and cultivation of genetically modified crops are limited to a certain extent. However, the cultivation of transgenic crops overseas is prevalent, and a large number of genetically modified crops, processed foods, and feeds are circulating in the market.
For this reason, genetically modified foods are getting closer and closer to us.
About transgenic crops
Transgenic crops are crop varieties that have been improved by the use of transgenic technology. Compared with the traditional crop variety improvement based on hybridization and artificial mutation, the breed improvement based on the transgenic technology can artificially change the gene, and has the advantages of introducing genes beyond the species barrier, expanding the range of variety improvement, and shortening the improvement period. The transgenic crops that are distributed overseas have been given properties such as high ricin and high oleic acid for health promotion in order to improve cultivability, improve pest resistance, antiviral resistance, herbicide tolerance, and nutritional value.
According to the statistics of ISAAA1) in 2009, the cultivated area of transgenic crops has reached an unprecedented 334 million hectares. The proportion of transgenic crops was 77% for soybean, 26% for maize, 21% for rapeseed, and 49% for cotton.
Transgenic crops and processed foods containing genetically modified crops are called genetically modified foods. The Japanese Food Hygiene Law requires the review of the safety of genetically modified foods. Only foods approved by the safety inspection are allowed to be imported, sold, etc. As of July 2010, 8 varieties of potato, 7 varieties of soybeans, 3 varieties of sugar beets, 70 varieties of corn, 15 varieties of rapeseed, 20 varieties of cotton, and 3 varieties of alfalfa, a total of 126 varieties of genetically modified foods The safety review was approved 2).
1) ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications), http://www.isaaa.org
2) Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Food and Drug Administration, http://www.mhlw.go.jp/topics/idenshi/index.html