Rice

Japan And Australia and Genetic Modification

By Sophie McAlpine

Where is Rice Grown?

Rice is best suited to regions that experience high temperatures and prolonged sunshine with small amounts of rain. The optimum average temperature during its life cycle is 20ºC to 38ºC. Rice is very demanding of water (with both amount and timing). It is grown throughout South East Asia and many other countries.

Australia

  • The Australian rice industry is predominantly located in the temperate climatic region of the Riverina in southern NSW. A small area of rice is also grown in northern NSW.

  • The major varieties grown are temperate Japonica varieties which are planted in October and harvested from March to May of the following year.

  • The vast majority of Australia’s rice is exported to international destinations, including Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Japan, the Middle East and many nations in the Pacific.

  • Market analysis indicates that there is demand across all market segments, both domestic and international for 950,000 tonnes of paddy production annually.
  • Varieties of Rice grown include; Amaroo, Reizig, Quest, Jarrah, Koshihikari, Opus, Illabong, Langi, Doongara, Kyeema.

Japan


  • Rice production is important to the food supply, with rice being a staple part of the Japanese diet. Japan is the ninth largest producer of rice in the world in rice production.
  • The rice seasons in Northern Japan last from May–June to September–October. In central Japan, it is from April–May to August–October. In southern Japan the rice season is from April -May to August–September.
  • About 85% of the 2.3 million farms in Japan plant rice yearly. Improved varieties of japonica rice are grown in almost all prefectures in the country. The most widely planted variety is Koshihikari.
  • Varieties of Rice grown include; Koshihikari, Hitomebore, Akitakomachi, Musenmai , Genmai and Haigamai
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What is Genetic Modification's Goal?

Modern plant breeders are still trying to improve the ability of rice to defend itself against diseases that impact the quality of the crop. Genetic engineering and modification is being used to achieve the perfect breeding objectives. Genetically modified rice is now on its way to fields in several countries.Genetic engineering is among the various methods being used to create a perfect product; to develop robust, high yielding cultivars that require little or no spraying, custom tailored to specific regional conditions. Genetic engineering offers possibilities for resistance to viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens which cause harm to the plant. Other important goals are to create the perfect product which include tolerance to drought and salinity. China is the main developer when it comes to the genetic modification of rice.

Future of Rice Within Global Communities

With many news report dedicating space on their pages to articles regarding genetic modification, rice is certain to be one of the main features. With scientists thinking ahead, they are planning that a Genetically modified version of rice will soon be another alternative to the world’s staple food. Because so many people depend on rice, maintaining a steady supply of the crop is a necessary task, but it can have its negatives. Everything from flooding and drought to poor crop quality can make it difficult to ensure farmers meet the global demand. As Rice is a staple food all over the world, many people depend on its growth for them to survive. For families who grow rice in Southeast Asia, they are struggling with the increasing cost of production, as well as the quick global consumption which means they have to have a bigger stock.
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Genetic Modification of Rice in Japan

At the moment, Japan is completely opposed to genetically modified crops, with nothing that has been tampered with growing in Japan.

A US government official is visiting Tokyo to seek Japan's "help to promote the safety of genetically modified crops among Japanese consumers," as a way to "ease the global food crisis," and with the U.S being one of the main producers of genetically modified crops they need as much help as they can get.

EVen though Japan as a whole does not produce GM crops, many individual Japanese scientists have been trying to develop a type of rice which people with allergies can eat. Fumio Takaiwa of Japan’s National Institute for Agrobiological Sciences in Tsukuba, has created a rice that could protect people against allergies such as hay fever. The rice has moved a stage closer to clinical trials, following a successful safety assessment in monkeys. The rice is designed to block symptoms of runny noses and sneezing in people allergic to Japanese cedar pollen, who account for 20 per cent of the Japanese population. It is genetically modified to contain the seven proteins within cedar pollen that provoke the most serious allergic reactions in people.

Genetic Modification of Rice in Australia

At the moment, Australia is not selling any genetically modified rice. Many trials and research are ongoing in this field, as scientists investigate what they can do to improve the quality of rice to make it more available and not easily harmed.