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Japan's Major Food Growing Region Bans GE Crops

New Hokkaido rules would stop farming of gene-altered crops
Nihon Keizai Shimbun, November 11, 2004

TOKYO, Hokkaido - Japan's northernmost prefecture, plans to put in place
next spring restrictions that would result in an effective ban on commercial
cultivation of genetically altered crops.

The new rules are in response to growing consumer interest in food safety
and are aimed at maintaining the reputation of products from Hokkaido,
Japan's largest food-producing region.

The regulations would apply to all crops, including soybeans and corn. A
licensing system would allow the commercial cultivation of genetically
altered plants, but the conditions would be so strict -- for example,
constant monitoring to prevent cross-fertilization with other plants -- that
the rules are expected to effectively halt such activity by ordinary farms.

To nurture the biotech industry, however, experimental cultivation would be
allowed if expert opinion is given that steps are being taken to prevent
cross-fertilization and contamination.

Genetically altered plants can now be cultivated just like ordinary crops as
long as approval is granted by the Agriculture and Environment ministries.
But research by Hokkaido shows 80% of consumers to be wary of genetically
altered produce. The prefecture fears that its own produce would suffer
should fears of cross-fertilization and contamination grow.

If put in place, Hokkaido's regulation of genetically altered crops would be
the strongest in the nation.

This GMO news service is underwritten by a generous grant from the Newman's
Own Foundation and is a production of the Ecological Farming Association
www.eco-farm.org <http://www.eco-farm.org/>