Japan’s Food Safety Law on genetically modified food


Genetically modified foods must undergo a safety review by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare before they can be sold. The Food Safety Commission conducts a safety review to determine the impact of the food on human health. When a genetically modified organism is used as a food for humans, if the foreign gene remains in the final product, it is considered a genetically modified food and is subject to a safety review.

On the other hand, if the foreign gene does not remain in the final product, such as in the case of a genetically modified organism using deletion genome editing, it is not considered to be genetically modified. In such cases, the following items (compiled by the editorial department of Nikkei Biotech from published materials) must be notified to the MHLW as part of the procedures to protect food sanitation.

  • The name and outline of the food item or variety developed (method and purpose of use)
  • The method of the genome editing technology used and the details of the modification
  • Information on the confirmation that no foreign gene or part of a foreign gene remains in the product.
  • Confirmation that the confirmed DNA alterations do not result in the production of new allergens or an increase in known toxic substances that adversely affect human health.
  • Information on the presence or absence of modifications that affect the metabolic system to increase or decrease specific ingredients.
  • Date of market launch (to be reported after market launch

All food and beverage products are subject to this law, and it regulates the sanitary management of food-related businesses. In some cases, new foods created using biotechnology that do not have a history of general use in food and drink are subject to individual safety checks.

Japan’s Food Safety Law on genetically modified food
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