Japanese Regulatory Framework and Approach for Genome-edited Foods Based on Latest Scientific Findings
Jan 03, 2023
The food supply system is facing important challenges and its sustainability has to be considered. Genome-editing technology, which accelerates the development of new variety, could be used to achieve sustainable development goals, thereby protecting the environment and ensuring the stable production of food for an increasing global population. The most widely used genome-editing tool, CRISPR/Cas9, is easy to use, affordable, and versatile. Foods produced by genome-editing technologies have been developed worldwide to create novel traits. In the first half of the review, the latest scientific findings on genome-editing technologies are summarized, and the technical challenge in genome sequence analysis are clarified. CRISPR/Cas9 has versatile alternative techniques, such as base editor and prime editor. Genome sequencing technology has developed rapidly in recent years. However, it is still difficult to detect large deletions and structural variations. Long-read sequencing technology would solve this challenge. In the second part, regulatory framework and approach for genome-edited foods is introduced. The four government ministries, including the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), started to discuss how the regulation should be implemented in 2019. The SDN-1 technique is excluded from the current genetically modified organism (GMO) regulation. The Japanese regulatory framework includes pre-submission consultation and submission of notification form. In the last part of this review, transparency of regulatory framework and consumer confidence were described. Since maintaining consumer trust is vital, transparency of regulatory framework is a key to consumers. The information of notification process on approved genome-edited foods is made public immediately. This review will help regulators build regulatory frameworks, and lead to harmonization of the framework between the countries.