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Japan Resources – 177

Please click here for our latest English newsletter: CUJ Japan Resources 177

We hope you will continue to stay updated with CUJ’s activities and news on our English website, and support our campaigns!

Contents:

From the Editors: Back to the Future?

New Campaign: Organic and Pesticide-free Ingredients for School Lunches

Urgent Request for Countermeasures Against the New Coronavirus

CUJ: Concerns Regarding Genome Editing of Fish

Almost Half a Million Signatures Supporting Our Gene-Editing Petition

CUJ and the No! GMO Campaign: Please Reply to Our Questions Regarding Glyphosate Use in Hokkaido

Request to cease pre-harvest glyphosate use in soybeans and please reply to our new concerns regarding its use (April 14, 2020)

To:

Hokuren Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives
Mr. Kazuyuki Uchida, Chairman of the Board

From:

No! GMO Campaign
Keisuke Amagasa
Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ)
Keisuke Amagasa, Co-Chairman
Kazuki Ono, Co-Chairman

Request to cease use of pre-harvest glyphosate in soybeans and reply to questions regarding its use

In response to our questionnaire dated March 17 2020, you responded on March 27 by e-mail, but you did not answer our questions 1 to 4.

Domestic agriculture is in a deep crisis due to trade agreements such as the TPP, the EU-Japan EPA, and the US-Japan FTA. We believe that the pursuit of safety in order to compete with cheap imported agricultural products is the best way to increase confidence in domestic agriculture and to survive. Many of the JAs under your organization are actively reducing the use of pesticides and pursuing environmentally friendly agriculture. Not only do we want you to produce safe agricultural products, but we also want to support domestic agriculture, which is responsible for Japan’s food self-sufficiency, and we worry about the health of the producers who are spraying pesticides.

Once again, we would like to ask you the following questions, and we would appreciate your sincere responses. Thank you for your time, but we ask that you respond in writing by April 28. The responses will be published on the website of Consumers Union of Japan.

1. What is your view on the fact that the herbicide glyphosate (product name Roundup, etc.) has been assessed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a specialized organization of the WHO, as “probably carcinogenic to humans” and its use has been regulated overseas and there have been a series of lawsuits.

2. You responded that you are complying with the Japanese legislation, but although glyphosate is applied to annual weeds on soybeans under the Pesticide Control Law, it is not applied as a wilting agent on soybeans. If glyphosate is sprayed on soybean plots just before harvest, not only weeds are affected, but soybeans are also affected, so we would like to raise the question about whether it is actually legal or not.

3. We heard that your Federation promoted the method of spraying glyphosate on soybeans just before harvesting to its affiliated JAs. Please stop spraying glyphosate because of these problems and concerns.

4. As a Federation responsible for Hokkaido’s agriculture, which accounts for more than 10% of Japan’s agricultural production, you have a responsibility not only to Hokkaido’s producers, but also to consumers throughout Japan who demand domestic agricultural products. Consumers expect that Hokkaido’s agricultural products are produced in cooler areas and use less pesticides, which makes them a reliable brand. We, the consumers, expect Hokkaido agriculture to reduce pesticides. The issue is not only if they are currently legal or not, but if they are harmful to the ecosystem, producers and consumers. What are your views on the pursuit of environmentally friendly agriculture?

Glyphosate on Soybeans in Hokkaido?

Consumers Union of Japan got this very brief reply from conventional soybean growers in Hokkaido, represented by Hokuren Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives, founded in 1919 in Sapporo, Japan:

Thank you very much for your valuable comments and suggestions.

All of the agricultural products handled by the Federation are produced in compliance with the Pesticide Control Law and are used in an appropriate manner.

Thank you very much for your understanding.

 

This was in response to our request to cease pre-harvest glyphosate use in soybeans as well as an open questionnaire on its use (March 17, 2020)

///

From Consumers Union of Japan                        March 17, 2020.

To:

Hokuren Federation of Agricultural Cooperative
Mr. Kazuyuki Uchida, Chairman of the Board

From:

No! GMO Campaign
Keisuke Amagasa
Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ)
Keisuke Amagasa, Co-Chairman
Kazuki Ono, Co-Chairman

Request to stop using pre-harvest glyphosate in soybeans as well as a questionnaire on its use

We are a consumer organization that is committed to food safety. We have taken a variety of initiatives to oppose genetically modified and genome-edited foods. We call for prudence in the use of pesticides associated with GMOs. In particular, in recent years, the toxicity of glyphosate herbicides has become apparent, and as regulations have progressed worldwide, the monitoring of these herbicides has been intensified.

The No! GMO Campaign sent you a questionnaire on October 7, 2019 regarding the application of the harvest herbicide glyphosate on soybeans, and we received an email response on the 29th of the same month. Subsequently, when our campaign conducted a residue survey of glyphosate in soybeans, glyphosate was detected in your Federation’s Hokkaido-grown soybeans.

There is widespread concern among consumers about glyphosate residues. We would like to request that you, as a Federation, instruct your member farmers to stop the use of glyphosate in soybeans before harvest.

We also ask the following questions. We apologize for the inconvenience, but please send us your response in writing by March 31. The responses will be published on the website of CUJ.

1. In your response on October 29 2019, you stated that you “will continue to raise awareness of the proper use of glyphosate in compliance with the contents of the government’s registration”, and you recommend the spraying of glyphosate before harvesting soybeans.

2, In the wake of the results in 2015 showing a direct causal link between glyphosate and cancer by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there has been a spate of lawsuits by victims in the United States, with agrochemical company Bayer losing one case after another. Are you aware of this fact?

3. Following the lawsuits in the United States, lawsuits were filed by victims in Canada and Australia, and their use has been banned or regulated in many countries and municipalities, including EU countries. Considering such a situation, we do not think that the logic that just because the Japanese government approves of it makes much sense.

4, We, the consumers, have come to believe that domestic non-GMO soybeans are safe because many imported soybeans are genetically modified, and genome-edited soybeans are appearing in the United States. However, with the detection of glyphosate in soybeans grown in Hokkaido, there is a concern that they will no longer be safe because just because they are grown in Japan. Could you provide guidance to stop using glyphosate before harvesting? When, if at all, do you plan to give guidance on termination of the use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest herbicide? If you do not do it, please tell us why.

WHO: IARC Monograph on Glyphosate

 

 

 

Organic and pesticide-free ingredients for school lunches

In order to protect the health of children, there is a growing movement to incorporate organic and pesticide-free ingredients into school lunches. It is the responsibility of each local government to provide school meals. Therefore, the residents themselves can decide what kind of school lunches they want to have.
However, organic agriculture in Japan accounts for only 0.2%* of the total arable land, so it is not easy to promote the use of organic farming in school lunches, including in terms of price. Starting this campaign, we will discuss what is needed to make organic and pesticide-free school lunches a reality.
*Area certified as organic by JAS

 

Japanese text here

Urgent Request for Countermeasures Against the New Coronavirus

To: Kato Katsunobu, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare

April 14 2020

Urgent Request for Countermeasures Against the New Coronavirus

The government’s measures against the new coronavirus during this period lack the perspective to protect the lives and livelihoods of citizens. From the standpoint of all Japanese citizens, we call for a review of the new coronavirus countermeasures at the government’s expert meeting.

1. Please introduce a simple test kit as soon as possible for early diagnosis

The new coronavirus is so contagious that it can be transmitted even if no symptoms are present. At the very least, patients who complain of fever, cough, or taste disorder should be diagnosed promptly and preventive measures such as isolation should be taken. If a simple test kit that has already been developed overseas is introduced as soon as possible and all suspected cases are tested in the same way as for influenza, PCR testing can be performed based on the kit to more accurately assess the status of infection and prevent the spread of the disease. Early diagnosis with a simple test kit is also recommended for early treatment. Also, please withdraw the suggestion to stay at home for 4 days for healthy people and 2 days for the elderly, and encourage them to receive medical examinations as soon as possible.

2. Please secure and utilize masks that are effective in preventing infection

Although masks are believed to be effective to some extent in preventing the spread of infection, the shortage of masks in many cities is causing a great deal of anxiety among citizens. With the current domestic production capacity, it is unlikely that citizens will be able to afford the masks they need. In addition, gauze masks distributed by the government to each house are considered to have limited effectiveness in preventing infection.

We believe that the public should be made aware that non-woven masks, which have a certain degree of viral shielding ability, are not disposable and can be used repeatedly by washing and disinfecting in the sun. In particular, we request that masks necessary for medical facilities and facilities for the elderly be urgently secured and supplied.

3. Reduce the risk of diagnosis and treatment

Although chest CT scan is often used for diagnosis, the new type of coronavirus can be diagnosed by PCR or a simple test kit. We think that simple chest radiography and an interview are sufficient for the diagnosis of pneumonia itself. There is no need for CT scan imaging that is two orders of magnitude higher in exposure, and medical institutions should be instructed not to expose patients to more radiation than necessary.

Thoroughly evaluate and consider the side effects of the medication. The development of a cure is rushed, but please do everything you can to ensure that there is no side effects. We believe that Avigan should be used with caution in light of its side effects.

New coronaviruses, which are RNA viruses, mutate quickly, so the effectiveness of vaccines is likely to be limited. Either way, it doesn’t help in the immediate future. There are also adverse reactions. We would like to request that you consider countermeasures without over-confidence in vaccines.

4. We demand measures that will save everyone

Although it is likely that homeless people living on the streets and the needy have low immunity due to poor diets, etc., and are at higher risk from infection, nevertheless, even if masks are distributed, for example, they are not distributed to such people.

In addition, there has been widespread layoffs of casual, temporary, and part-time workers under the pretext of the Corona economic recession. Many of these people lose their jobs and the place to live at the same time. Many people have already been forced to spend the night in online cafes and all-night shops. The semi-mandatory self-imposed restraint of business that is being declared a state of emergency will throw these people out into the streets. As people leave town and eateries close, hunger will affect them in addition to the risk of infection.

At the same time, we demand that unemployed people, regardless of whether they are regular or irregular, be immediately covered by employment insurance and that the period of receipt of benefits be specially extended.

The weight of life is the same. We would like to request that you, as the person in charge of health and labor policy, pay sufficient attention to the bottom line of society and take measures to ensure that everyone’s right to life is fulfilled.

Amagasa Keisuke

Ono Kazunori

Consumers Union of Japan