The Japanese government has opened a public comment period for proposed revisions to genetically-engineered (GE) labelling for nutritionally enhanced rapeseed varieties, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported.

The revision proposes to add rapeseed varieties that produce eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and/or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to a list of nutritionally enhanced GE products requiring GE labelling, called Specific GE Products, according to the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) 19 October report.

“In Japan, if foreign genetic material is not present in a highly refined product, such as cooking oil, GE labelling is not usually required. However, food items derived from Specific GE Products that have had their nutritional values significantly modified by inserted foreign DNA must be labelled as GE even if no foreign material remains in the product,” the USDA said.

“These varieties accumulate a higher concentration of EPA and/or DHA in the seed oil compared to other conventional canola varieties.”

If adopted, the Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA), which opened the consultation period on 13 October, would require GE labelling on products derived from these rapeseed varieties even if no foreign genetic material remained in highly refined products, such as canola oil, the Global Agricultural Information Network report said.

“Once the government of Japan approves these events, the Japan market will be open to the rapeseed varieties and products derived from the rapeseed varieties,” the USDA said.

The CAA is accepting comments in Japanese until 12 November.

As of October, the CAA designates only stearidonic acid-enhanced soyabeans and high-lysine maize as Specific GE Products.