Syngenta GM corn to be approved in Japan

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Corn seed, Maize

Japan looks set to grant formal approval for Syngenta's Agrisure RW
GM corn seed for food and feed use next week, quelling export fears
of US grain companies.

Japan's Food Safety Commission today announced that it will advise the farm ministry of the outcome of its risk assessment, initiated in May 2006, according to Reuters. The Commission says the corn seed, which contains a trait to prevent damage wreaked by root-worm, is safe for feed use. It made a parallel recommendation for food use last week, and the safety decision extends even to incidences where the GM seed is accidentally mixed with regular corn seed. It is expected that the corn seed could be granted formal government approval next month - and certainly in time for the harvesting of new crops. The news is not only good news for the Swiss agrochemicals firm, which has previously fallen foul of European regulators due to accidental mixing of non-approved GM maize with regular maize. Grain companies in the United States will also breathe a collective sigh of relief, since Japan imports more high volumes of corn from the US (11.8 tonnes last year). If Japanese approval of Agrisure RW was delayed or withheld, there were fears that the level of imports would be impacted. In the interim time between US and Japanese approvals grain firms have had to assure that they would deliver Agrisure grain only to non-export facilities. Syngenta's is not the only root-worm resistant corn allowed in Japan. Monsanto's and DuPont's offerings are amongst the other 24 GM corn varieties previously approved in the country. Syngenta announced in May that it is to acquire a 49 per cent take in Chinese seed company Sanbei, wth a view to jointly developing corn seed products to meet growing demand driven by changing food patterns and agronomic trends. Syngenta has operated in China for the last decade, offering both seed and crop protection products. But the company has spied new opportunities as the economy in China is growing and more food is needed to feed the swelling population. A spokesperson told that dietary patterns in the country are shifting "from green to protein",​ spurring demand for meat, which in turn calls for more feed - of which corn is a major component.

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