Category Archives: Biotechnology

New Booklet: Glyphosate

CUJ and the No! GMO Campaign have published a new booklet about the dangerous herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other brands. Written by Amagasa Keisuke, it outlines the recent events including lawsuits in the US and new data about the toxic effects. Here in Japan, residue of glyphosate has been found in bread made with imported wheat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The booklet also exposes how in 2017, the Japanese government increased the legal residue levels in many foods:

Wheat flour: From 5 => 30 parts per million (ppm)

Rye wheat flour: From 0.2 => 30 ppm

Soba flour: From 0.2 => 30 ppm

Corn: From 1 => 5 ppm

Canola: From 10 => 30 ppm

In Japan, many soybean farmers are using glyphosate-based herbicides including Roundup as a pre-harvest chemical, in order to dry the crops while they are still maturing. CUJ and the No! GMO Campaign have been successfully campaigning to get soybean farmers in Hokkaido to stop this practice. In other countries, especially in North and South America, farmers are growing crops that are genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate. In Japan, there is no commercial farming of such GM crops, but imported feed and food oils often contain GM ingredients such as GM soy, GM corn or GM canola (rapeseed). Look for the label on products including soy, such as tofu, soy sauce and natto if you want to avoid GM ingredients that can contain glyphosate residue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

しょうゆに表示される「遺伝子組換えでない」は任意のもの(写真=柳井隆宏)

The 64 pages booklet is in Japanese. You can order it here:

2020年10月発行
【発行】遺伝子組み換え食品いらない!キャンペーン、日本消費者連盟
【著者】天笠啓祐
【表紙デザイン】いのうえしんぢ
定価:500円(送料別)/A5判・64ページ

<ご注文は下記まで>
日本消費者連盟
電話:03(5155)4765
FAX:03(5155)4767
eメール:office.j@nishoren.org

注文書(PDF)

 

Wild-growing GM Canola Still a Problem

Activists have for many years participated in actions around harbours all around Japan. They collect and test wild-growing canola along roads and near food oil factories. The import of Genetically Modified canola, which started in the late 1990s, led to GM plants growing wild, an unintentional effect that poses a risk to the biodiversity of similar plants. Canola is a member of the Brassica genus and many other edible plants are grown in Japan, thus increasing the risk that cross-contamination will occur of related foods like cabbage or broccoli.

In 2006, the government started taking an interest in this issue, after intense lobbying by CUJ and the No! GMO Campaign, who are helping to organise the testing. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF) has again this year announced that they have found GM canola growing wild around seven harbours (Tomakomai, Kashima, Chiba, Nagoya, Yokkaichi, Kobe and Hakata). They also found wild-growing GM soy at one harbour (Hakata).

It is believed that the imported seeds easily fall off conveyor belts and lorries as they are transported from the ships that enter the harbours. According to Bio Journal, when 165 individual seeds of Brassica napus were tested, 20 were discovered to have resistance to both glyphosate and glufosinate.

Read more: MAFF reports results of GM rapeseed, GM soy wild volunteer survey

Read CUJ’s 2010 report about wild-growing canola

CUJ Supports ‘“Defend Our Rice, Fight for Our Rights’ Campaign, a Resounding Success!” -SGRN

To commemorate the historic event when more than 400 farmers, urban poor, youths, and consumers uprooted Golden Rice in Pili, Camarines Sur back in 2013, the Stop Golden Rice Network (SGRN) successfully held a week-long campaign with the theme “Defend Our Rice, Fight for Our Rights.”

Joined by various organizations and alliances across Asia, the  “Defend Our Rice, Fight for Our Rights” campaign included various sets of activities starting from its launching on August 2 and concluding on August 8, the International Day of Action Against Golden Rice.

“State-sanctioned lockdowns due to the pandemic truly posed a challenge in launching campaigns, but it did not deter our farmers from joining,” said Cris Panerio, MASIPAG National Coordinator. “We need to be even more united than before however difficult it is in the time of COVID-19 health pandemic. And it showed through Black Lives Matter that it is possible to get organized in new means by making use of technologies at our disposal,” said Julie Smit, Luxembourg-based executive member of People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), in a webinar as part of the week-long campaign.

Protest from farms

Farmers from MASIPAG Luzon took it to their farms to hang placards against Golden Rice

Different farmer organizations across Asia joined the International Day of Action Against Golden Rice on August 8 culminating in a protest action by hanging GM Free banners on their farms. It was then uploaded through social media platforms to encourage more farmers to do the same.

“It’s a show of force to display our solidarity with our genuine cause to stop golden rice and the further coporatization of our food systems.” said Panerio.

Women farmers from BAYAN Camarines Sur reveal their calls from their farm

Members and partners of the SGRN vow to continue the campaign through continued vigilance against the commercialization of Golden Rice and the corporate agenda to food and agriculture. Active applications for the commercialization of Golden Rice are underway in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Several biosafety regulations are also being relaxed in several countries to accommodate GM crops, and even new plant breeding techniques through gene-editing.

“Consumers Union of Japan strongly supports the annual campaign event to stop Golden Rice. Here in Japan, we are very worried about attempts to use new gene-editing techniques on rice, with research already ongoing. Of course in the future, such genome-altering GM Rice would be unacceptable to farmers and consumers all over the world, if they were used to attempt to produce the same effects as the current GM Golden Rice. We will continue the struggle to educate everyone about these events” said Martin J. Frid of Consumers Union Japan.

Request for Opinion Exchange on Genome-Editing Foods

To:

The Ministry of Health, Labour & Welfare

From:

No! GMO Campaign

Consumers Union of Japan

3 August 2020

 It has been almost 10 months since genome-edited foods became available for distribution in Japan. Although your ministry’s website indicates that no notification has been made yet, the sale of “cricket crackers” made from genome-edited crickets was reported on 13 May 2020, causing concern among consumers. This turned out to be a false alarm, but later on, information was received that genome-edited crickets were being used at a ramen restaurant in Tokyo. The staff at the restaurant had actively admitted to using them, and when we reconfirmed their use, they denied it, but we cannot confirm whether this is true or not. Most importantly, this is due to the lack of notification requirements. It is possible that other genome-edited foods are being developed and distributed under the radar. A total of 447,725 signatures submitted at the House Study Session we held in September 2019 and January this year calling for the regulation and labeling of genome-edited foods were gathered in anticipation of this unsettling situation.

At the House Study Session in January, we heard from your ministry’s officials that they have already received a number of consultations on how to report on the issue, but despite the fact that more than six months have passed since then, the government is still showing a lack of interest in the issue.

We would therefore like to request a meeting with your ministry to discuss this issue. As the new coronavirus continues to spread, we would be happy to meet with you in a small group. If you are unable to meet with us in person, we would be happy to have an online meeting. Here are the main points we’d like to ask you at this time. Please respond to the following questions by 14 August.

  1. What is the status of consultations on the notification of genome-edited foods?
  2. Are you aware of the status of research and development in Japan and abroad?
  3. What is your understanding of genome-edited crickets?
  4. Do you monitor undelivered distribution in Tokyo?

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?