Hello Dana

>There is also apparently some very legitimate concern
>regarding (unknown) health aspect of human consumption
>of GM soybeans since China tends to directly consume
>soy protein rather than "running it through livestock"
>first as we do in the US. Even the Chinese leadership
>must have some strong reservations about feeding their
>population a foodstuff that while it looks like a
>traditional one...is not on the molecular level. I
>suppose though that much of this concern will abate
>when they get what they want "diplomatically
>speaking". We don't know for certain (or even close
>enough for my comfort) if GM foodstuffs are "safe" for
>human consumption...and the studies run by the labs
>that were funded by those that had the most to gain
>that "proved" they were are of less value than the
>human studies we are currently running that have shown
>that they are unfit for "some humans" consumption.

Much agree with your reservations. A case for the Precautionary 
Principle (which all these countries have signed).

>Don't the Japanese have a similar policy on GM
>soybeans Keith?

Yes, I suppose, sort of... It's a bit half-assed though. They don't 
have a ban per se, they do have a ban on imports of "unapproved" GM 
varieties, for example, Starlink. That's Japanese approval, not US 
approval - Starlink isn't even approved as animal feed here.

Otherwise it's mainly a labelling issue.

Labelling is mandatory with food products in which GM material is one 
of the top three ingredients and where the material accounts for five 
percent or above of food weight. Food products containing less than 
five percent of approved biotech crops like corn and soybeans can be 
labelled as non-GMOs. (This because they accept that some inadvertent 
comingling is inevitable.)

Animal feed and food products in which DNA or protein resulting from 
gene alternation cannot be detected using existing technologies are 
exempted from labelling. Exempted items include vegetable oil, soy 
sauce, corn flakes, glucose syrup, high fructose corn syrup, 
alcoholic beverages with corn starch, dextrin, mashed potatoes, 
potato starch, potato flakes and processed potato products.

- ie, half-assed.

Consumer rejection of GMOs is widespread here and growing, there's a 
burgeoning market for non-GMO imports, especially of soybeans. Japan 
imports about 4.8 million tonnes of soybeans a year for crushing and 
food, mostly from the US.

"Japanese grain traders played down new government procedures to 
approve GMOs, saying the action was aimed at calming consumer worries 
and would not disturb trade."

I'd hesitate to argue with that.

Of course Japan's also a major player, or perhaps plans to be, and 
much of this could be positioning, as with China. Japanese scientists 
recently broke new ground when they inserted genetic material from 
spinach into a pig, which they say will produce healthier pork. (A 
spig?) They say their spigs produce less fat than normal pigs, so 
it'll be healthier to eat spig spork. This seems to demonstrate a 
less-than-profound understanding of health, nutrition, pigs, spinach, 
nature, the universe, and all the fish.

"Professor Iritani said only about 1% of GM piglets survived after 
being born, although breeding among GM pigs would ensure the spinach 
gene was passed on."

Yeah, right, healthy.

Off-topic, eh? Maybe not. I guess it could go either way, but there 
are more and more obstacles in the path of GMs, or at least this kind 
of GM, Bt corn, RR soy, etc - the "Frankenfood" stuff from Monsanto, 
Syngenta, Aventis et al. It could lead to massive surpluses of 
unsaleable biofuels feedstock, some are expecting just that. So it's 
perhaps worth keeping an eye on it even you aren't interested in all 
the other issues - health, environment, genetic drift, and so on.


Keith Addison
Journey to Forever
Handmade Projects
Osaka, Japan


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