Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

Foods Produced by Recombinant DNA Techniques

Ministry or Health, Labour, and Welfare, JAPAN


Codex Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology 
The Task Force was established under the Codex Alimentarius Commission to develop international standards, guidelines, or other recommendations on foods derived from biotechnology.  Japan has been hosting the Task Force since 2000.


Procedure for Safety Assessment
The safety assessment of foods and food additives produced by recombinant DNA techniques (hereafter GM foods) is mandatory under the Food Sanitation Law.  The Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) receives application, and the Food Safety Commission (FSC) evaluates the safety of GM foods in terms of human health.

Lists of Products
-   List of products that have undergone safety assessment and been announced in the Official Gazette(PDF:406KB)  
-   List of products that are being evaluated(PDF:36KB)  

Labeling System of Foods Produced by Recombinant DNA Technique
In April 2001, the labeling for GM foods became mandatory in Japan. The labeling system is run by two ministries: the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and the MHLW.  The MAFF intends to provide consumers with information in choosing food under the Japanese Agricultural Standards Law (JAS Law).  The MHLW intends to publicize the fact that the product has undergone the safety assessment.  The labeling is part of the legal safety assessment system under the Food Sanitation Law.

The labeling should be as follows:
(1) GM foods whose compositions or nutritional values are significantly different from their conventional counterparts1.
     High oleic soybeans or oils made from them

Mandatory Labeling "soybeans (high oleic, genetically modified)" etc.

(2) GM foods whose compositions or nutritional values are equivalent to their conventional counterparts.

  (i) Agricultural products and processed foods in which recombinant DNAs or the resulting proteins still exist even after processing (such as Tofu)

a. GM agricultural products under the identity preserved handling2 or processed foods made form those

Mandatory Labeling "GMO segregated from non-GMO" , "GMO" etc.

b. Agricultural products, not segregated GM products and non-GM products, or processed foods made from those the identity preserved handling2 or processed foods made form those

Mandatory Labeling "Not segregated from GMO" etc.

c. non-GM agricultural products under the identity preserved handling or processed foods made from those

Voluntary Labeling "Non-GMO segregated from GMO" , "Non-GMO" etc.

  (ii) Processed foods such as edible oils or soy sauce in which recombinant DNAs or the resulting proteins do not remain after processing
Not subject to labeling

Note
1 (1) is a labeling provided only by the JAS Law ("Standard") for providing consumers with information for informed choices.
2 Identity preserved handling is a management method in which GM products and non-GM products are not. commingled each other at each stage of production, distribution and processing from farms to food manufacturers. It shall be verified by documents indicating that the management has been conducted.
If the identified preserved handling is properly conducted, the adventitious presence of GMO is accepted up to 5%.


Monitoring Foods Produced by Recombinant DNA Technique
In order to prevent distribution of GM foods that have not been assessed in Japan, food products are analyzed at quarantines. In the Japanese market, the food products are monitored for appropriateness of their labels.


Codex Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology
The Task Force was established under the Codex Alimentarius Commission to develop international standards, guidelines, or other recommendations on foods derived from biotechnology.  Japan has been hosting the Task Force since 2000.


Link for Other Relevant Web sites
(1)   Domestic Organization
FSC(Food Safety Commission)
   Standards for the Safety Assessment of Genetically Modified Foods (Seed Plants)(PDF)
MAFF (The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan)
AFFRC (Agriculture,Forestry and Fisheries Research Council)
   Innovative Technology Homeage
Ministry of the Environment
Biodiversity Center of Japan
   Biosafety
(2)   International Organizations
CODEX Alimentarius Commision
   Biotechnology
WHO (World Health Organization)
   Biotechnology (GM foods)
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nations)
   Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture
   Risk Assessment: Biotechnology and Food Safety
OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development)
   Biotechnology
Biosafety-BioTrack
(3)   USA
FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration)
   Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Biotechnology
USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
   Agribusiness and Cooperatives:Biotechnology
EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
   Pesticides
(4)   EU
EU (The European Union)
   Food Safety: From the Farm to the Fork
Biotechnology
Food Safety in Europe
EFSA (European Food Safety Authority)
   Panel on genetically modified organisms

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