Genetically engineered oilseed rape in Japan

Mode of escape: 
Ruderal populations
Hybridisation with Brassica rapa

Japan is one of the main importing countries for genetically engineered oilseed rape. About 90 percent of two million tons that are imported per year stem from Canada. In Canada, more than 90 percent of cultivated oilseed rape is genetically engineered to tolerate herbicides like glyphosate. The first studies on the presence of transgenic oilseed rape in Japan were published in 2005. Plants that proved to be resistant to glyphosate or glufosinate were found in the proximity of ports like Kashima, Chiba, Nagoya and Kobe as well as along transportation routes to industry plants where oilseed rape is processed. Other studies detected transgenic oilseed rape plants that had hybridised and were tolerant to both herbicides. Follow-up studies found ruderal populations along further transportation routes and in areas close to all other major ports. Further, one publication of came to the conclusion that oilseed rape populations are able to self-sustain over time. Obviously, the percentage of transgenic oilseed rape in ruderal populations is constantly growing. In 2008, 90 percent of all tested plants in the proximity of Yokkaichi port proved to be genetically engineered. The first transgenic hybrid between B. napus and B. rapa was found in 2011. According to research, the properties of feral transgenic oilseed rape plants might have changed under the influence of climatic conditions. From an ecological perspective, it should be of concern that some larger than normal plants were found. These plants have also become perennial whereas oilseed rape and all other Brassica species growing in Japan are annual.


Supporting organizations