Food Safety Citizens’ Watch is calling for the immediate withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations
26 December, 2013
The Japanese government held a cabinet minister meeting about TPP as the last round of negotiations ended in Singapore in December, and it was revealed that no agreement would be finalized in 2013. It was explained that countries will continue negotiating during 2014.
The TPP negotiations are carried out behind closed doors, and the content is not explained to the citizens in the countries involved. In addition, it is clear that the maintenance of tariffs on so-called sanctuary products (farm and marine products including rice) that the Japanese government has insisted on turns out to be difficult.
The United States continues to strongly insist on the profit for its own industries by including intellectual property rights protection in TPP. This involves copyright protection for pharmaceutical products and Hollywood movies. In addition, regarding food safety regulations that we are specifically concerned about, the United States appears to be demanding relaxation of such rules in other countries.
We see no positive result from Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiations. We urge the government to listen to the resolution of the Liberal Democratic Party members in the Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, that demanded Japan withdraw from the TPP negotiations promptly.
Food Safety Citizens’ Watch was established in April 2003 as a network of experts to monitor developments and make proposals to the government regarding food safety issues from the citizen’s point of view.
WikiLeaks has done it again – made available important documents that governments and corporate interests have tried to keep secret from the general public. Until this new release, we had almost no idea what was going on within the secret Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations involving an extraordinarily diverse group of 12 large and small as well as rich and poor nations of East and Southeast Asia, Australasia, and North and South America. The twelve are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam, with the US driving the agenda. South Korea and Taiwan have also indicated that they may want to join. (…)
This time, we get a glimpse of the status of the Environment Chapter with important implications for the people and nature of the region.
Please read more at Japan Focus: WikiLeaks and the Release of the Environment Report
More details at the WikiLeaks website
“The Environment Chapter has long been sought by journalists and environmental groups. The released text dates from the Chief Negotiators’ summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013.
The Environment Chapter covers what the Parties propose to be their positions on: environmental issues, including climate change, biodiversity and fishing stocks; and trade and investment in ‘environmental’ goods and services. It also outlines how to resolve enviromental disputes arising out of the treaty’s subsequent implementation. The draft Consolidated Text was prepared by the Chairs of the Environment Working Group, at the request of TPP Ministers at the Brunei round of the negotiations.
When compared against other TPP chapters, the Environment Chapter is noteworthy for its absence of mandated clauses or meaningful enforcement measures. The dispute settlement mechanisms it creates are cooperative instead of binding; there are no required penalties and no proposed criminal sanctions. With the exception of fisheries, trade in ‘environmental’ goods and the disputed inclusion of other multilateral agreements, the Chapter appears to function as a public relations exercise.”
Consumers Union of Japan and concerned citizens and experts formed a committee in September 2013 to put forward proposals for a reform of Japan’s energy system. This network took the opportunity to make a detailed submission to the government in January 2014. This is a brief summary of the Japanese text, which is available in full on the website of Consumers Union of Japan.
We must learn from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant, and formulate a master plan which advances energy conversion. The government should listen to the opinion of citizens and reflect the public view when going forward with its plans.
A stable energy supply must be based on a new energy law which gives citizen the right to choose energy that is harmonious, sustainable and safe. Moreover, citizens should be given opportunity to participate in the policy making process. The new law should enable the promotion of affordable renewable energy, and phase out nuclear power and fossil fuels.
It is our opinion that the government should formulate a master plan that is independent of nuclear power. We have the following proposals for how the country can withdraw from nuclear power generation and the nuclear fuel cycle policy. It is particularly important to immediately stop the current nuclear fuel cycle policy.
Dependence on fossil fuel should be reduced and renewable energy should be promoted through numerical targets and a policy for increased efficiency. Energy saving measures should also be promoted further.
We want more discussion about the energy policy for example through public hearings so that the opinions of citizens can be heard. Moreover, we are of the opinion that not only the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the electricity companies should be in charge of electric power system reform, but also other agencies that better reflect the citizens, such as the Consumer Affairs Agency. A special committee representing the energy demand side should be set up that includes consumer representatives, experts on seismology and other related disciplines. It is also necessary to ensure the disclosure of each committee member’s financial relationship to the electricity producers.
As a result of the Fukushima disaster, on the national level, the new energy policy needs to be a top priority. We need to build a new electric power system that allows for the decommissioning of all nuclear power plants.
70% of the population is now demanding a nuclear power-free society. People do not believe it is safe. We are concerned that the government is not taking the Fukushima disaster seriously, blaming it on the tsunami only, and taking no note of expert reports that have pointed out structural flaws, the threat of terrorism as well as seismological issues relevant to all nuclear plants in Japan.
Stop all new construction of nuclear power plants, including reprocessing plants and fast breeder reactors. Start decommissioning all nuclear power plants around the country. We do not accept any restarts of the nuclear power plants and note that it is unacceptable that there is still no proposal for the final disposal of nuclear waste.
The government’s proposals for a reform of Japan’s energy system is vague on renewable energy, only mentioning that the introduction of renewable energy will be accelerated as much as possible within three years from now. But there are no mid- or long-term numerical targets and no details about how this will happen. This is completely insufficient as a plan for encouraging the related industry. Photovoltaic generation and storage batteries for home owners are examples of areas where numerical targets are necessary. Increased energy efficiency and power saving measures also need to be carefully considered and encouraged.
Citizens Committee for Power System Reform
Busy days as the year ends, isn’t it going faster than last year…? So much to do and so many campaigns and meetings! Here are Japan Resources No. 158 and 159, please feel free to print out and keep in your library and share with friends and collegues.
We appreciate everyone’s support. Do check out our Japanese website for how you can become a member, purchase books and other literature from CUJ!
Japan Resources 158 & 159 (pdf):
Posted December 18th, 2013 in Japan Resources
Consumers Union of Japan and the No! GMO Campaign participated in a four-day meeting in the Philippines in November, to discuss the risks associated with genetically modified organisms (GMO). Of particular interest was the ambush by the biotech industry in countries like Bangladesh, where they want to introduce BT eggplants (after failing in India). Also on the agenda was Vitamin A rice (see details below) that is currently tested in field trials by IRRI and others in Asia. Experts and activists from 12 countries participated!
26 November 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Third World Network
Biosafety experts arrive in Manila, question Golden Rice
Respected scientists in the fields of agriculture and biosafety, Dr. Angelika Hilbeck and Prof. Jack Heinemann, are coming to Manila to share their assessment of Golden Rice’s development. Golden Rice is a genetically engineered rice that is claimed to contain Betacarotene that can express Vitamin A and in turn, address Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) as well as blindness. Its proponents led by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) project that crop will be publicly released in 2016.
“The adequacy of human health and environment assessments for Golden Rice should address deficiencies in other food risk assessments especially because it is intended for use by an already vulnerable population of people. In addition, Golden rice release may create important liabilities for the Philippines. I caution against a release before these issues are properly addressed through scientific and socio-economic assessment,” Heinemann points out. The Philippines does not have a biosafety law that can comprehensively lay down risk assessment processes, including liability and redress mechanisms, in cases of health impacts and contamination, among others. Yet it allows genetically engineered food and crops in the country, despite Republic Act 10068, otherwise known as the Organic Agriculture Act.
Similarly Hilbeck questions claims around Golden Rice as a remedy for VAD. It remains unclear, for instance, whether Golden Rice includes the pre-stages of Vitamin A such as the production of retinoids, a key component in anti-acne medication but in high dosage can be toxic. “GR does not totally address the causes of Vitamin A deficiency and for a ‘non-curative medicine’ that only treats symptoms, its proponents make far too big claims for it to be indeed a remedy,” she asserts.
Both Heinemann and Hilbeck share that the hype around Golden Rice is a distraction from practical solutions to malnutrition. There are likewise doubts over the so-called, humanitarian approach on Golden Rice. “Golden Rice 2 is a 100% corporate invention and is 100% owned by Syngenta! The company retains full control of their patent rights,” Hilbeck adds.
Heinemann is a professor of genetics and molecular biology in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand and is the Director of the Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety (INBI). Meanwhile, Hilbeck is a senior scientist at the Institute of Integrative Biology at ETH Zurich, with her studies focusing on agroecology and biodiversity, biosafety issues of GMOs and environmental risk assessments. Their expertise has contributed to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Both scientists are authors of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), a five-year research exercise that was mainly supervised by the United Nations (UN) and endorsed by many governments.