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Protest against Genome Editing in Japan

Consumers Union of Japan, protested against the Genome edited tomato, outside the offices in Tokyo of Sanatech, the company that has spearheaded the introduction of this GM technology.

Genome editing technology has many problems and concerns. Practical application without dispelling these is unacceptable.
✖ There is a risk of unexpected harmful effects due to off-targeting, etc.
✖ Disturbance of the function of complex genes (other genes are affected by genetic engineering).
✖ Genes may be damaged in the gene manipulation process.
✖ Could cause disturbance of the ecosystem due to the spread of genetically engineered organisms.
✖Increase in carcinogenesis in livestock (because genome editing suppresses cancer suppressor genes).
✖ Bioethical issue of abuse of genetic engineering for human convenience.



Update on Labeling and Organic Certification of Genome-edited Food

Will genome-edited food be labelled in Japan? Consumers Union of Japan, No! GMO Campaign and other groups are lobbying hard for our right to choose what we eat. It also applies to farmers, who want to decide what they farm – and what not to farm. It especially applies to organic farmers, who have spearheaded the movement to more regenerative and natural ways to grow our food, while thinking about the future. Our colleagues over at the Citizens Biotechnology Information Center, CBIC, note:

On September 16, representatives of the NO! GM Food Campaign and other civic groups visited the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) for a hearing and negotiations on the current state of discussions within the government on the labeling of genetically modified seeds and seedlings (see BJ April 2021 and June 2021) and whether or not to grant organic certification to genome-edited crops. A MAFF official said the ministry had not considered labelling for genetically modified seeds and seedlings in the past, but had begun the study because of growing interest among citizens. The ministry also said although it has confirmed in principle that genome-edited crops will not be granted organic certification, this is still on hold since there is no verification technology to determine whether or not food has been produced through genome editing. The official said that Canada is currently the only developed country that has decided not to grant organic certification to genome-edited crops and therefore MAFF is now in the process of contacting relevant organizations in the country.

Another Citizen’s Food Systems Summit in Tokyo, Japan

18 September, 2021 Another Citizens’ Food Summit:

The “Green Food System Strategy” proposed by MAFF is not that “Green”

Another Citizens’ Food Summit

“The “Green Food System Strategy” proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is filled with ambitious goals, such as increasing the area of organic farming to 25% of all farmland by 2050 and reducing the use of chemical pesticides by 30%. It is said to have been formulated in preparation for the UN Food System Summit to be held in September this year, but many NGOs have criticized the summit as being dominated by profit-oriented multinational corporations.

We are organizing another Citizens’ Food Summit in response to the UN Food System Summit. We will learn about the current situation of corporate domination of food on a global scale, find out what the true aim of Japan’s “Green Food System Strategy” is, and think about the agriculture and food we want.

Date and Time: Saturday, 18 September, 2021, 13:30 – 16:30

Venue: Bunkyo Silver Center, Silver Hall (Bunkyo Civic Center 4F)
Online participation is also possible.

Program (tentative)
13:30-13:40 Opening remarks
13:40-13:50 Issue: “Why Green Food System Strategy is not Green” by Mr. Toshiyuki Saito (National Federation of Farmers Movement)
13:50-14:00 Issue: “The UN Food System Summit that gives priority to large corporations”, Ms. Setsuko Yasuda (Food Policy Center Vision 21)
14:00-14:10 Issue: “Slow Food International Movement / Food System Strategy from the Viewpoint of an Organic Farmer” Ms. Megumi Watanabe (Japan Slow Food Association, Organic Farmer)
14:10-14:20 Issue: “Breaking away from chemical pesticides with RNA pesticides?” Keisuke Amagasa

14:20-14:40 Animation “Big Brother is Coming – The Invisible Threat to Our Food” Screening and commentary

14:40-14:50 Break
14:50-16:15 Panel discussion “We are the main actors! The Future of Food Created by Consumers and Farmers
16:15-16:30 Message Board Campaign and the Future

Toshiyuki Saito was born in Chiba Prefecture in 1949. He became a standing committee member of the National Federation of Farmer’s Movements when it was formed in 1989, and later became its secretary general. He has been practicing organic farming in Chiba Prefecture.

Setsuko Yasuda worked for Consumers Union of Japan, where she was in charge of the anti-nuclear power movement, food safety and food agriculture issues. She established the Food Policy Center Vision 21 in 2000. Her major publications include “Suicide Seeds” (Heibonsha Shinsho), co-authored “TPP and Japan’s Issues” (Noubunkyo Booklet), and “Food is Degrading Japan: Seeds for Life and Safe Food for the Next Generation” (Eats Food News).

Megumi Watanabe is a graduate of the Faculty of Education at Waseda University. In 2015, she moved to Italy and received a master’s degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences, a university founded by the Slow Food Association. After returning to Japan in 2016, she played a central role in the launch of Slow Food Japan and will become the President in April 2019. She is also the wife of an organic farmer and the mother of two children.

Keisuke Amagasa graduated from the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Waseda University. After working as an editor for the magazine “Gijutsu to Ningen” (Technology and Humanity), he became independent in 1993. Currently, he is a representative of the Citizens Biotechnology Information Office, a representative of the No! GMO Campaign, and advisor to Consumers Union of Japan.  His recent publications include “Genome Manipulation and Human Rights” (Jiyu Shuppansha), “Postwar History of Agriculture and Food: From Defeat to Post-Corona” (Midorikaze Shuppan, co-author), and “New Corona Vaccine: Its Real Image and Problems” (Midorikaze Shuppan).

Animation: “Big Brother is Coming: The Invisible Threat to Our Food

ETC Group

In addition to the huge agribusinesses, this video shows how huge IT companies are now entering the world of food, and asset management companies are buying up shares in food-related companies. What in the world is happening in the food industry? We will consider the true nature of the digitalization that is unknowingly shaking our food industry from the perspective of the food world. Presented for the first time in Japan.

(Original title: Big Brother is Coming to the Farm: the digital takeover of food)

Organized by: Consumers Union of Japan


Japan Resources – 182

Please click here for our latest English newsletter: JR 182

Special focus on Food Systems


From the Editors: Much Ado about Food Systems

Comments on Japan’s Green Food System Strategy, from Consumers Union of Japan, and from the No! GMO Campaign – and learn more about why we find the government’s proposals preposterous and outrageous, and out of touch with reality…

Background Notes on Japan’s Green Food System Strategy

Global People’s Summit on Food Systems — Against the UN Food System Summit

In the News: Fragrance Pollution

Campaign to Reduce the Use of Plastics


From the Editors:

Much Ado about Food Systems

Welcome to issue No. 182 of Consumers Union of Japan’s English newsletter. This time, the special theme is to share insights about the current debate about food systems, and our response to the Japanese government. We will hold a seminar on 18 September about the controversial FAO Food System Summit. What is behind the focus on “food systems” rather than food safety or the right to food, and what does it all mean for consumers?

We hope you will stay updated with CUJ’s activities, including campaigns against artificial fragrances and plastic waste, here on our English website and on CUJ’s new English Twitter account.





Fragrance Pollution in the News

The following is an article on the current status of the problem of fragrance pollution in Japan written by Ms. Reiko Mizuno, Board Member of the NPO Japan Endoctrine-disruptor Preventive Action.



Quote: As cosmetics and fabric softeners infused with artificial fragrances proliferate, there are increasing complaints of headaches and nausea caused by the chemical substances used to create the scents. What are the risks of this new kind of air pollution?

The Japanese obsession with cleanliness is contributing to a booming market. The outcome of all of this has been a new kind of scent pollution caused by the mixture of toxic substances used to create the popular scents. And the situation is being aggravated by the microcapsules used in fabric softeners and other types of scented cleaners. The “bursts of fragrance,” “long-lasting scents,” and “nano-air-freshening” capabilities touted by manufacturers are made possible by a technology that locks fragrances and deodorants in tiny capsules made of urethane and melamine resins.

Consumers Union of Japan has formed a “Liaison Committee to Eliminate Fragrance Pollution” with six other organizations, including Japan Endoctrine-disruptor Preventive Action, to work towards the eradication of fragrance pollution, or kougai (香害). It is estimated that there are several millions of people who are suffering from health problems caused by products such as scented fabric softeners, scented detergents, perfumes and other artificial fragrances. Some become so ill to the extend that are unable to go to school or work. Some  have even been forced to evacuate deep into the mountains or an environment that is free from fragrance pollution. Since 2017, we have been lobbying the central government, local governments, manufacturers and other companies in an effort to eradicate fragrance pollution. Are you concerned about fragrance pollution? Please get in touch with Consumers Union of Japan.