Agricultural Biotechnology Annual 2012

An Expert's View about Agriculture and Animal Husbandry in Malaysia

Posted on: 30 Sep 2012

Enforcement of new biotech labeling requirements, originally scheduled to begin July 2012, has been delayed indefinitely.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Required Report - public distribution Date: 8/24/2012 GAIN Report Number: MY2008 Malaysia Agricultural Biotechnology Annual 2012 Approved By: Chris P. Rittgers Prepared By: Abdul Ghani Wahab Report Highlights: Enforcement of new biotech labeling requirements, originally scheduled to begin July 2012, has been delayed indefinitely. The National Biosafety Board has approved six events for food, feed, and processing, with several still undergoing reviews. Nonetheless, the local food processing sector is quite concerned about the slow pace of approvals. No genetically engineered crops are yet approved for planting. Table of Contents SECTION I: Executive Summary ............................................................................................... 3 SECTION II: Plant Biotechnology Trade and Production ....................................................... 3 SECTION III: Plant Biotechnology Policy ................................................................................. 4 SECTION IV: Reference Material .............................................................................................. 6 GAIN REPORT MY2008 Page 2 SECTION I: Executive Summary: On July 8 2010, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced regulations requiring strict mandatory labeling for food containing ingredients produced through modern biotechnology. Enforcement of this regulation was supposed to begin on July 2012, but implementation has been postponed, probably for at least another two years. Questions persist regarding how the regulations would be enforced, especially whether and how much of a threshold will be allowed before labeling would be required, whether an exempt list of products will be allowed, and regarding specific language and location of the label. Malaysia imports around 3 million tons of corn and one-half million tons of soybeans annually for food, feed, or processing. A large percentage of these imports contain genetically modified varieties. According to Malaysia’s biosafety law, the National Biosafety Board (NBB) must approve any “living modified organisms” to be released onto the market, including grains for feed or processing. Four corn and two soybean events have been approved, and several are still under review. The local food manufacturing sector is quite concerned about the slow pace of feed and processing approvals. Furthermore, for the events that have been approved, NBB has attached unreasonable conditions on the downstream handling of commodities; conditions which are beyond the control and outside the responsibility of the applicants. While much research is being done, particularly on oil palm, no genetically engineered crops are approved for planting. SECTION II: Plant Biotechnology Trade and Production: Production No genetically engineered crops or crops developed through recombinant DNA techniques are approved for planting in Malaysia; biotechnology related activities are still at the research and development stage and no plant varieties have been presented for commercialization for local planting. Biotechnology in Malaysia tends to have a broad interpretation, much broader than genetic engineering. For example, crop research using tissue culture and molecular markers, as well as research on bio-pesticides, integrated pest management, and natural fertilizers, are often categorized as “biotechnology” in the same context as genetic engineering. For the plantation crops, particularly oil palm, private sector research labs are very active in innovative research; whereas, Malaysia’s Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), under the Ministry of Agriculture, spearheads research efforts on the important food crops, such as rice, vegetables and fruits. MARDI is working on cloning rice varieties, manipulating papaya to be resistant to Ring Spot Virus, altering pomelos’ skin color, and developing resistance to mosaic virus in passion fruit. However, the oil palm is the focus of the majority of research devoted to improving yields and productivity. The Palm oil Board and private companies are experimenting with genetic engineering techniques for palm oil high in carotenoids (carotene & lycopene) and tocotrienols (vitamin E). In GAIN REPORT MY2008 Page 3 addition, a consortium of public and private sector entities successfully mapped the oil palm genome. However, none of the biotechnology research involving the Malaysian oil palm sector has progressed much beyond the experimental stage. The Biotechnology Corporation (BiotechCorp) is the lead agency for facilitating public and private sector partnerships in the biotechnology industry. However, most of its focus has been on the healthcare sector, with the ag biotechnology sector of lagging behind. Trade Malaysia imports about 3 million tons of corn and 500,000 tons of soybeans annually. A large portion of this is genetically engineered grain. Malaysia also imports about 70,000 tons of identity preserved (IP) soybeans and about 25,000 tons of IP corn annually. The IP corn and soybeans go directly to processing for human consumption. No genetically modified seed for planting is approved for import or for confined trials. SECTION III: Plant Biotechnology Policy: Malaysia’s biosafety law requires that the National Biosafety Board (NBB) evaluate and approve “living modified organisms” before release onto the market for food, feed, or processing. This would apply to any GMOs that may be found in the 3.5 million tons of corn and soybeans Malaysia imports annually. A Genetic Modification Advisory Committee (GMAC) provides expert advice to NBB on applications. The NBB is supposed complete applications within 180 days. Information on the approval requirements and process is available at: http://www.biosafety.nre.gov.my/regulatory_process/approval.shtml The list of approve GM events for food, feed, and processing is available at: http://www.biosafety.nre.gov.my/country_decision/app_ffp.shtml Pending applications include: 1) CZea Mays L TC1507 Corn; 2) Zea Mays L T25ACS-ZM003-2 Corn; Glycine Max MON89788 Soybean; 3) Glycine Max (L) Merr. A2704-12 Soybean; and 4) Zea Mays l. SPP Mays SYN-BT011-1 Corn For some of the events approved, NBB has attached unreasonable conditions and requirements. For example, NBB asks the applicants to be responsible for monitoring and “clean-up” of any grain spillage during transport for port to processing facility. On July 8 2010, the Ministry of Health (Ministry of Health) announced regulations requiring strict mandatory labeling for food containing ingredients produced through modern biotechnology. The new labeling requirement would have required all food items containing LMOs and ingredients from LMOs to be labeled as such and to declare the origin of the modified gene. The rationale for the origin requirement is to ensure imported products also comply with Halal standards. Enforcement of the GAIN REPORT MY2008 Page 4 labeling regulation was supposed to begin in July 2012, but implementation was postponed, probably for at least another two years. Questions persist regarding how the regulations would be enforced, especially whether and how much of a threshold will be allowed before labeling would be required, whether an exempt list of products will be allowed, and regarding specific language and location of the label. GAIN REPORT MY2008 Page 5 SECTION IV: Reference Material Key Biotechnology Contacts in Malaysia. Dato’ Dr. Madinah Mohamad Secretary General Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation Level 6, Block C5, Parcel C Federal Government Administrative Centre 62662 Putrajaya Tel: (60-3) 8885-8020/8021 Fax: (60-3) 8889-9000 E-mail: madinah@mosti.gov.my Website: http://www.mosti.com.my Mr. Letchumanan A/L Ramatha Director General Department of Biosafety Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment Level 1, Podium 2, Wisma Sumber Asli No. 25, Persiaran Perdana Federal Government Administrative Centre 62662 Putrajaya Tel: (60-3) 8886-1580 Ext: 1579 Fax: (60-3) 8890-4935 E-mail: letchu@nre.gov.my Website: http://www.nre.gov.my : www.biosafety.nre.gov.my Dato’ Dr. Mohd. Nazlee Kamal Malaysia Biotechnology Corporation Sdn. Bhd. Chief Executive Officer Level 23, Menara Atlan 161 Jalan Ampang 50450 Kuala Lumpur Tel: (60-3) 2116-5588 Fax: (60-3) 2116-5411 E-mail: info@biotechcorp.com.my Website: http://www.biotechcorp.com.my/ GAIN REPORT MY2008 Page 6 Mr. Mustafa Kamal Bin Baharuddin Director General of Agriculture Department of Agriculture, HQ Ministry of Agriculture & Agro-Based Industries Wisma Tani No. 30, Level 17, Persiaran Perdana Lot 4G1, Presint 4 Federal Government Administrative Centre 62624 Putrajaya Tel: (60-3) 8870-3001 (DL)/ 8870-3000 (G/L) Fax: (60-3) 8888-5069 E-mail: mustafa_k@doa.gov.my Website: http://www.doa.gov.my Datuk Dr. Abd. Aziz bin Jamaluddin Director General Department of Veterinary Services Ministry of Agriculture & Agro-Based Industries Wisma Tani Level 2, Lot 4G1, Podium 1A, Presint 4 Federal Government Administrative Centre 62624 Putrajaya Tel: (60-3) 8870-2001/8170 Fax: (60-3) 8888-8685/6051 E-mail: azizj@dvs.gov.my / kp@dvs.gov.my Website: http://www.dvs.gov.my Dato’ Ahamad Sabki Bin Mahmood Director General Department of Fishery (Jabatan Perikanan Malaysia) Ministry of Agriculture & Agro-Based Industries Wisma Tani Level 6, Lot 4G2, Presint 4 Federal Government Administrative Centre 62628 Putrajaya Tel: (60-3) 8889-5855/ 8870-4008/4009 Fax: (60-3) 8889-2460/8870-4000 E-mail: ahamadsabki@dof.gov.my / kpp01@dof.gov.my Website: http://www.dof.gov.my GAIN REPORT MY2008 Page 7 Datin Paduka Nurmala Abdul Rahim Secretary General Ministry of Plantation & Commodities 6-13th Floor, Lot 2G4, Presint 2 Federal Government Administrative Centre 62654 Putrajaya Tel: (60-3) 8880-3334/3333 Fax: (60-3) 8880-3345/3441 E-mail: nurmala@mpic.gov.my Website: http://www.kppk.gov.my Datuk Kamarul Zaman Bin Md. Isa Secretary General Ministry of Health Level 12, Block E7, Parcel E Federal Government Administrative Centre 62590 Putrajaya Tel: (60-3) 8883-2539 Fax: (60-3) 8889-5245 E-mail: kamarul_zaman@moh.gov.my Website: http://www.moh.gov.my GAIN REPORT MY2008 Page 8
Posted: 30 September 2012

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