Category Archives: Food

What Is Behind the Cheap Bananas?

“Bitter Truth of Sweet Bananas,” a DVD on the reality of the banana production in the Philippines, was released by Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC). The 78-minutes documentary film about the bananas produced for the Japanese market features the predicaments of the local banana farmers with agrichemicals aerial spraying and unfair contracts with enterprises, for example, and the futures of the initiatives to support the local farmers. PARC calls the public to see the film and “think about the relationships between Japan and the Philippines and also about the food.”

The theme of documentary is the problems on the production site relating to, for example, agricultural chemicals and contracts with large companies, and also the efforts of the local farmers to become sustainable producers and of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to support such initiatives. It touches upon indigenous local peoples’ thoughts, contains interviews with partner organizations that support the expansion of fair trades, and describes the new prospects for the future. The report carefully covers the reality of the banana production site which is out of the sight of Japanese consumers who eat cheap bananas and raises a question how they should think of the agriculture of the world and the future of the food.

Ryota Murakami, a film director, filmed the documentary that is divided into three sections.

From Japan Agri News

Read more on the Pacific Asia Research Center website (J)

GM Food Labelling Changes

Consumer Affairs Agency holds explanatory meeting for GM food labelling changes

 

The Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA), in step with proposed changes in GM food labelling, has held explanatory meetings starting in Tokyo and moving on to Sendai, Osaka, Fukuoka, Sapporo, Okayama and Nagoya. CAA has also solicited opinions from the general public at the same time. The current proposed changes would lower the detection limit value (to almost zero) at which labels such as “Non-GM” or “GM soybeans not used” can be affixed to food packaging. There is strong opposition to this proposal from not only consumers but also the soybean industry, general trading companies and others.

Fact Sheet: Status of Genome Editing in Japan

Fact sheet from Consumers Union of Japan

In September 2018, CUJ participated in the GMO Free Europe Conference in Berlin, Germany. One of the big topics right now is genome editing, which has called the applicability of the current regulatory framework for Genetically Modified Organisms into question. We published this fact sheet to inform others around the world about the debate in Japan.

Click here to download the pdf file.

In the News: “Gov’t committee’s GMO deregulation proposal too hasty: consumer groups, experts”

Consumers Union of Japan has been active in the debate about regulation of GMOs since the mid 1990 and firmly believe the new technologies, such as gene editing, must be strictly regulated. CUJ’s stance is that any such experiments should be stopped to avoid serious adverse effects on human health and the environment.

August 21, 2018 (Mainichi Japan)

TOKYO — Consumer groups are taking aim at Aug. 20 recommendations by an Environment Ministry expert committee that some genetically modified organisms (GMO) be deregulated.

The expert committee proposed deregulation of organisms edited to remove or deactivate certain genes as opposed to adding new code, but critics are claiming this is “the same as genetic manipulation,” and that it is “strange” to exempt it from government restrictions.

“They (the committee) came to this conclusion after just two meetings. How can they say it’s safe?” said Consumers Union of Japan secretariat chief Michiyo Koketsu. “We need a debate that includes a wide range of experts, not just a small section of the research community.”

Research is already well underway in Japan on creating meatier red sea bream by disabling a gene that suppresses muscle growth. In cases like these — of disabling genes as opposed to replacing or recombining DNA — if the edited fish went to market without any report to the government, how could it be distinguished from organisms created through gene manipulation? Inspectors can identify organisms created through gene replacement by the DNA added to the plant’s or animal’s genome. However, in organisms with a disabled gene, it is impossible to tell if this was the result of deliberate editing or natural environmental factors.

Some critics have also pointed to the risk of harmful genetic edits, such as creating allergens by deleting a gene by mistake.
Continue reading In the News: “Gov’t committee’s GMO deregulation proposal too hasty: consumer groups, experts”

International Symposium: Report from South Korea Meeting About Labelling of GM Food

International Symposium: Report from South Korea Meeting About Labelling of GM Food

The demand for better labelling of genetically modified food is rising in South Korea. With citizens taking the lead, over 200,000 people signed a petition in March, 2018 and was officially submitted to the government, but no response has yet been coming forward.

On July 19, 2018 an international symposium will be held in Seoul with invited specialists from Japan and the United States, to discuss the current status of GM food labelling. The hosts are different South Korean civil society organizations. Consumers Union of Japan and Seikatsu Club will be representing Japan.

We will hold an event in Tokyo on July 24, 2018 to discuss the current efforts to improve the GM food labelling in South Korea, Japan and the US.

Date: July 24, 2018 (Tuesday) 13:30-15:30
Place: Tokyo Women’s Plaza
The nearest station: The subway Omotesando station B2 exit or the JR Shibuya station Miyamasuzaka exit
Entrance fee: The general public: 800 yen (CUJ members 500 yen)
Reservation isn’t necessary.
Speakers
● Ryoko Shimizu (Seikatsu Club)
● Michiyo Koketsu (CUJ Secretary-general)
● Hirouchi Kaori (CUJ)