In my quest to find flaxseed (amani aka 亜麻仁) in Japan, I discovered that no stores actually carry it, except Amazon.
From what I’ve read here and here, ten years ago, Canada sent shipments of Flaxseed with traces of Cyanide which were higher than the allowed amount of naturally occuring cyanogenic glycoside. They also accidentally shipped some GMO seeds, which isn’t allowed as per Japanese regulations, so the world’s largest producer of Flaxseed has practically been banned from shipping here.
Despite that, I have managed to find “flaxseed meal” and “roasted flaxseed”, essentially it’s flax which has already been heat-treated, therefore it should technically be safe despite having lost most of its nutrients.
The funny thing about this story is that the Japanese govn’t ban on imported GMO products, and their “acceptable level of cyanide” are a bit strange.
For starters, their 10 ppm (parts per million) limit is ridiculously high, nobody would consume that much flaxseed to be affected by any traces of cyanide. Secondly, GMO isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Scientists make amazing progress in making modifications to seeds in order for them to be safe from pesticides, and it works, but there aren’t enough studies to prove that these GMOs aren’t dangerous for humans. Japan’s stance is to “wait until it’s proven safe” before allowing it. The EU is similar. Canada and US prefer to “wait until it’s proven dangerous before banning it”.
Those differences are cultural, and personally I’m still not sure where I stand on that. I think the future could benefit greatly from GMOs, particularly if it reduces the chances of eating foods with bacteria (ex: salmonella, e.coli), and having larger and better crop yields for less money.. but I wouldn’t want to consume something covered with human-killing pesticides.. soo… show us some data!
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