Genetically engineered papayas to hit store shelves as early as summer
The Mainichi Daily News (Japan), May 25 2010

The government has decided to apply its genetically modified (GM) food labeling rules to papayas, opening the way for the import of modified papayas as early as this summer.

The fruit would be the first GM food meant for consumption raw to be allowed distribution in Japan.

The decision by the Cabinet Office committee for consumer affairs clears the way for the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to recognize the GM papayas for import and distribution under the Food Sanitation Act once the plan passes a public input phase.

The decision applies specifically to papayas genetically altered for resistance to harmful viruses. The modified fruit is now being grown in Hawaii, and has been on sale in the United States since May 1999. Japan's Food Safety Commission ruled in July last year that the papayas did not present a health risk. If the fruit go on sale in Japan, they must carry a label stating they are GM products.

There are currently seven fresh and 32 processed GM foods approved for import to Japan, though most are ingredients for processed goods or animal fodder, and are not marketed as food for raw consumption by humans.

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