Team:Botchan Lab Tokyo/Collaborations



There are several iGEM teams in Japan, and as ‘iGEM JAPAN’, we collaborated with 'iGEM JAPAN Kansai Forum' and ' May Festival' written below. We also collaborated with many other teams inside Japan, and also with many teams in the world

<iGEM JAPAN Kansai Forum>

On February 19th, we visited University of Kyoto and participated on a meeting event ‘iGEM Japan Kansai Forum’. iGEM Nagahama team, iGEM Gifu team, iGEM Kobe team, iGEM Kyoto team, KAIT team, iGEM Hokkaido team,and Botchan Lab Tokyo team gathered in Kyoto. In February, we haven’t decided the theme of the project yet, and had several ideas of the project. So, we presented our 4 ideas and got feedbacks and opinions on each idea in details. We also exchanged opinions not only on projects and experiments but also on team managing and activities. Since it was the first year for our university to participate in iGEM competition, all of the teams above helped us setting up our team. We also conducted a survey and asked iGEM teams above the questions about what abilities we can get and how this experience be used in the future by participating on iGEM competition.

<Collaboration with iGEM Nagahama>

We collaborated with iGEM Nagahama, one of the teams in Japan. We got advice and hints of participating in iGEM as private university from iGEM Nagahama team, since we are both private universities, such as how to setting up funds, how to work on iGEM in the universities, and so on. Because it was our fisrt time to participate, they also taught us how to write wiki. On the other hand, we helped iGEM Nagahama team as well. We advised about cloud funding, especially which website to use, and how to collect sponsors and patrons. For the website, iGEM nagahama team actually used the website ‘campfire’, which we also used in advance and advised to use.

<May Festival>

On May 20th and 21st, as iGEM JAPAN, we participated in university festival of University of Tokyo, ‘May Festival’. In this festival, with KAIT JAPAN team, Tokyo Tech team, Kyoto team, Kobe team, Nagahama team, and Gifu team, we held an exhibition booth and presented our projects with posters. Since May Festival is one of the most famous university festivals in Japan, many people including middle school or high school students, university students, many professors and many researchers came to the exhibition booth. They listened to our projects and gave us a lot of opinions from many perspectives. Since many teams of iGEM participated, we discussed our project and deepened our knowledge in details especially the protocol.

<Creating a document about GMM(GMO) legislations>

Genetically modifying is a technique of modifying DNA using genetic engineering methods. This technique is used in food, agriculture, and many other fields. In Japan, there are quite a lot genetically modified foods, and we are quite familiar with GMO regardless of pro or con. (Find out the survey that we took on human practices page!) However, in Japan, there are both people feel positive about GMOs and people who feel negative about GMOs. Having this background, and also thinking of safety and conservation of ecosystem, we consider that these are the reasons why the GMM(GMO) legislations are quite restrict in Japan. On the other hand, if we look outside Japan, the legislations are really different in each country and area. So, our team collaborated with 9 iGEM teams: Manchester team from the UK, Virginia team from the USA, AQA Unesp team from Brazil,, UChile_OpenBio-CeBiB team from Chile, ITB_Indonesia team from Indonesia, KUAS_Korea team from Korea, IIT_Delhi team from India, and UAlberta team from Canada, and created a document of GMM legislations. This document has created by 10 teams from 10 countries in 5 continents. By researching GMM legislations and comparing those legislations between countries, we aimed to understand the depth and diversity of laws, and also the impressions of GMOs in each country and area. We compared the following 6 contents of GMM legislations.

  1. What institutional body enforces the laws regarding the use of GMMs? The institutional bodies that enforce the laws regarding the use of GMMs differ a lot across the world. In many countries in Asia (Japan, Indonesia, and Korea) and Canada, ministries and departments are responsible for enforcing the laws of GMMs. The kinds of ministries enforcing the laws as well as their numbers vary from country to country, but usually the large organizations are in charge. On the other hand, countries like India, Brazil, the United States, and Australia have more specialized committees or institutions of biotechnology and biosafety and these committees are responsible for enforcing the laws. In the European Union, the European Commission is responsible for enforcing the GMO laws to be followed by all member countries. Chile doesn’t have a clear regulation for biotechnology, but has responsible institutions when commercing or trading.

  2. Who regulates the use of GMMs on a case-by-case basis? We can distinguish two different administrative ways in which countries decided to regulate the use of GMMs. One way government regulate GMMs is by establishing a special, often non-governmental, organisation, which usually also acts as an information center in the field of synthetic biology. The other way involves assigning conventional ministries to regulate the use of GMMs in their respective fields. The European Union, Australia, and Indonesia belong to the first group. For example, in Australia, Gene Technology Regulator Advisory Committee takes charge of making decisions on products’ approval. Competent authorities in the European Union and The Biosafety Commission and The Technical Team for Biosafety in Indonesia have similar roles. Brazil, Canada, Chile, Korea, India, Japan and the US belong to the second group, where conventional ministries are responsible for their respective fields. Even though the names of these ministries might differ amongst the countries, it seems to be a more prevalent way to regulate GMO. Additional information centres might be present to help the ministries make decisions, nonetheless.

  3. What legal requirements do I have to fulfil in order to be able to use GMMs in my business? The legal requirements in the European Union, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Indonesia and India are very similar. All uses of GMOs require risk assessments to be run before the start of the production. The exact procedures related to obtaining permissions to use GMOs in the production vary, however, according to the target use of the final products or the way the GMOs are handled in the production process. As a general rule, products related to human health as well as those used as food or feed have to follow stricter GMO procedures, such as obtaining approvals from several ministries or labelling your final products in a predescribed manner. Environmental release of GMOs is also given serious attention although the procedures are not as tight, just as in the case of contained GMO use. Usually, the target use also dictates which Ministry will be responsible for the evaluation and approval of the planned GMO use. These could include Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Food, Fisheries, Forestry, Environment and many more. In Korea, the procedure is also similar but it requires a payment of a examination fee that costs 4000 dollars. In the USA, GMO plants are considered equivalent to non-GMO plants and do not require much further approval; only if the plant express a protein that is significantly different from any protein originally expressed, will a respective institution be required to approve of such use. In Chile, on the other hand, it is forbidden to commercialize GMOs as only seed exportation is allowed.

  4. As an employer who exposes their workers to biological agents, what safety measures am I obliged to adopt? It can be noticed all countries participating in this collaboration, share the standard protocols of good practices in a laboratory, which includes the following:
    • Reduce the risk of manipulation to the maximum.
    • Identify the level of risk.
    • Use of necessary safety equipment for each activity.
    • Maintain the necessary information and supervision with trained personnel.
    • Reduce the risk of manipulation to the maximum.
    • Maintain an infection prevention protocol and equipment in case of emergency.
    • Reduce the risk of manipulation to the maximum.
    • Good hygiene of workers.
    • Reduce the risk of manipulation to the maximum.
    • Waste disposal protocols, among others.

    In the United States, Australia, Brazil and Indonesia, these protocols for the manipulation of biological agents are all that is required to protect the workers involved. On the other hand, the European Union, Japan and India also require medical records of all workers exposed to biological agents to be kept for a specified period of time. Japan additionally requires the employers to hold medical check-ups every 6 months for the exposed workers. The legislations of EU, Korea, Canada, Chile and India group biological agents according to the risk they might create. These groups, in turn, determine what safety measures are to be taken in each case.
    In Korea, Canada and Chile, the facilities must also be located in an isolated or secluded location. Chile only requires it for biosafety levels 3 and 4. Finally, Korea and India require the existence of a decontamination room between the work area and the outside.

  5. As a consumer, how do I know if a product I want to buy contains GMOs? The legal requirements for disclosing GMOs within food and other products differ across the world. Some countries within the Americas have little to no laws in place regarding GMO labeling. In the USA, there are no official obligations for companies to label any products containing GMOs. The same applies to Canada, unless the food is likely to pose a health or safety risk to consumers, in which case full disclosure of GMOs is mandatory. The Brazilian government, which has until now required companies to label transgenic products with a T symbol, is (as of 2017) currently considering removing this law. Chilean government might be a notable exception as it prohibits the introduction into the market of any products containing GMOs. In contrast, most of Europe, Asia and Oceania have strict guidelines surrounding labeling of GMO products. The European Union, Australia, India and Indonesia all require the packaging of such products to be bear the label “this product contains genetically modified organisms”, although exceptions do exist in the form of medical products (in the European Union) and foods produced by animals fed with GMO foods (in Australia). Japan and Korea follow a percentage scale, with GMO labelling required if a product contains more than 5% and 1% genetically-modified ingredients respectively.

  6. What are the most important documents related to GMMs? The documents related to GMM concern a wide range of issues like Manufacturing, Transportation, Safety, Environment, Health, etc. When it comes to Biosafety, places like European Union, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, India, and Indonesia clearly have got laws and regulations concerning biosafety and documents are supposed to be submitted in this regard. US and Canada do not seem to have any separate regulation regarding biosafety. However, in the US, Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology (1986) ensures the safety of the public.  For GMMs products (food, drugs, cosmetics etc.), places like the European Union, United state, India, and Canada have a policy and law for the use and regulation of GMM products. To use GMM products in these countries, the government formalities should be done before use, as stated in their laws and policies. In Brazil, there is a registry for biological products. In Japan and Korea there is no such law for GMM products. In Indonesia, supplementary documents must be submitted to use GMM biological foods and products. In Australia, there is no such law for GMM products.  In terms of international trade (export, import), countries like the United States, India, and Korea have clear laws detailing the procedures. They have taken permission and submission of documents to the law regarding this export and import of GMM uses. In European countries, these directly come under the laws of regulations of GMMs. There seem to be no specific laws regulating international GMM trade in Australia, Japan, Korea and Canada.   The most important documents related to GMMs are concerned with biosafety, food, trade and production processes. In places such as India, European Union, United States, Brazil, Japan, Canada, there are many different laws regulating each of these issues. On the other hand, Korea, Indonesia, and Australia have only one or two laws governing all these issues.

  7. For more answers in each question of each country, look at the document below.

    GMM legislations are here!

    <A meet-up with a member of University of Manchester>

    On September 10th, we met up with a team member of Manchester team. We mainly discussed differences of GMM legislations between Japan and Europe. We realized that both Japan and Europe have strict legislations of GMOs, but Europe has stricter obligations for companies to label products containing GMOs. We also talked about Japan’s interesting labeling, which many company spontaneously write ‘This product is NOT genetically modified food’ on the package. We also exchanged our information and opinions on the projects and also differences of the environment around the teams and the managements of the teams.