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January 5, 2017

Japan eyes stricter labeling of genetically modified food

  • Agency
  • Genetics/Genomics

Japan Today – Japan is considering expanding the scope of mandatory labeling of ingredients containing genetically modified crops from the current 33 food items, according to Consumer Affairs Agency sources.

The move is aimed at giving consumers a greater sense of security about the food they buy and eat amid growing imports of genetically modified crops and food products containing them.

In 2015, Japan imported 11.8 million tons of corn and 2.33 million tons of soy from the United States, and over 90% of them were believed to be genetically modified, according to the agriculture ministry.

The government plans to convene a panel of experts on the matter, including people from the food industry and consumer groups, in fiscal 2017, the agency sources said.

Currently eight genetically modified crops are subject to the labeling requirement in Japan. By comparison, the European Union mandates labeling, in principle, of all food products containing genetically modified organisms.

Japan mandates labeling if the three largest ingredients of a food product by weight contain substances from genetically modified crops and account for 5 percent or more of all ingredients.

Labeling is not required for items where genetically modified organisms cannot be detected, such as fermented food.

Some consumer organizations call for mandatory labeling of all food items containing genetically modified organisms. Consumers now eat products without sufficient information about their ingredients, the organizations say.

Image citation: Corpse Reviver, CC BY-SA 3.0