Category Archives: North-South

Letter From Consumers In Japan To Protest Against GMOs In Bangladesh

Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Hon’ble Sheikh Hasina

Embassy of Bangladesh
4-15-15 Meguro, Meguro-Ku, Tokyo-153-0063
Fax No: +81-03-5704-1696

Tokyo, Japan May 28, 2014

Japanese Citizens’ Network for Sustainable Food & Agriculture
Amagasa Keisuke, Kawata Masaharu

We are a network of concerned Japanese consumers, farmers and experts with a strong desire to protect biological diversity and promote sustainable food and farming. Our network includes Consumers Union of Japan, No! GMO Campaign as well as co-ops and farmers organizations in different regions of Japan.

We recently discovered that your country has decided to promote genetically modified organisms (GMO) and introduced GM eggplant (BT brinjal) to selected farmers in different areas in Bangladesh in January, 2014. Consumers in Japan are strongly opposed to this act by your government.

If cultivation of GM eggplant (BT brinjal) is carried out on a large scale in Bangladesh, a country-of-origin for this important crop, it will not only have an influence on the food safety and food security, but may pollute other farms in your country. This could seriously influence your trading partners and countries such as Japan that import food. We would be forced to call on consumers in Japan to consider a boycott of farm products cultivated in Bangladesh.

Instead, we strongly urge you to cancel the approval of GM eggplant (BT brinjal) and prohibit the sale of all GM crops.

1) Cultivation of GM eggplant (BT brinjal) is not allowed in other countries. India and the Philippines are among the countries that prohibits GM eggplant (BT brinjal).

2) Many scientists have pointed out risks associated with the cultivation of GM crops, including adverse effects to the ecosystem and health problems for farmers. For consumers, the risks include allergic reactions and problems associated with unintended effects, such as the impact on the immune system. See for example the detailed guideline adopted by FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius in 2003 for the conduct of food safety assessment of GMO foods (CAC/GL 46-2003).

3) One approach to dealing with such varied and extensive risks involve using the precautionary principle, adopted in 1992 by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).

4) We note that the introduction of GM crops have the potential to cause great damage on the biodiversity of your country, especially related to important agricultural crops used as food. We also regard this to go against the “Aichi Targets” which was adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity, and which Bangladesh is a member of.

5) We are certain that most farmers in your country perform sustainable agriculture and save their own seed. This will no longer be possible if you allow the introduction of genetically modified DNA that is patented and owned by large foreign corporations. Instead, farmers face an uncertain future of poverty, as they will be forced to make new purchases of GM seed each season, with a large amount of cash expenditure each year.

Thank you.

Japanese Citizens’ Network for Sustainable Food & Agriculture
Consumers Union of Japan
1-9-19-207 Nishi-Waseda
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan
www.nishoren.org/en/

International Biodiversity Day Symposium In Tokyo, Japan

International Biodiversity Day Symposium
Is Our Food and Biodiversity OK?
Saturday 24 May, 2014

YMCA Asia Youth Center
Suidobashi, Tokyo, Japan

13:00 Meeting hall open
13:30 Greetings
13:40 Message from South Korea
13:45 Status of GMOs in the Philippines (50 min)
14:35 Bt Brinjal: Bangladesh case (50 min)
15:25 Situation in Japan (20 min)
15:45 Break (15 min)
16:00 Panel discussion (50 min)
16:50 Final comments
17:00 End

18:00 Party at Tokyo Achikoko!!

なんと東京アチコーコーを偶然に見つけて選んでくださったのですがお話をすると、遺伝子組み換え食品に反対し、食品の安全を考える方々のお集まり。小さいけど、無農薬で畑で野菜を作る私としてはとってもウレシイ出逢いでした。

I am very happy that you found our place and know you all. Let’s keep trying to save food safety. I definitely support your activities!

お集まりいただいた方々の活動の一部は下記でチェックできます。
http://fa-net-japan.org/
http://gmo-iranai.lolipop.jp/index.php/

Japanese Citizens’ Network for Sustainable Food & Agriculture
Consumers Union of Japan
1-9-19-207 Nishi-Waseda
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan
www.nishoren.org/en/

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Biosafety Expert Meeting In Quezon City, Philippines

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!

20131130_TWN_GMO_Workshop

PRESS RELEASE

26 November 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact person:
Nina Somera
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.

International Film Festival on Organic Farming


The 7th organic film festival will be held in Tokyo on November 23-24, 2013. This will be a great opportunity to catch up with recent trends and watch documentaries from Japan and abroad. The theme this year is “Holding on to the Soil” to refelct the hardships many farmers are experiencing, with special focus on Okinawa and Fukushima.

Location: Hosei University, Sotobori Campus (between Iidabashi and Ichigaya stations on the Sobu line)

Tickets: 1800 Yen (pre order) 2500 Yen ( at the entrance)

For more information please check the official website (J).

BSE In Brazil

Open letter: Our demands regarding mad cow disease in Brazil

To: Agriculture Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi
From: Food Safety Citizens’ Watch
January 9, 2013

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) announced on December 8, 2012 on its homepage that beef from Brazil was infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and that import of beef products from Brazil were banned from that same day. The following are problems regarding the slow response which we would like MAFF’s Risk Management Agency to reply to before January 21, 2013.

1) Why was the news about the Brazilian cow that died from BSE in December 2010 (at age 13 years) not announced until December 8, 2012?

2) Between 2010 and 2012, Brazilian beef products were imported for two years. 935 tons of heat-processed products were imported in 2010, and 1435 tons in 2011, an increase from 17% to 21% of the total imports. Please clarify how the beef products were distributed and consumed around Japan.

3) Please respond to the public regarding your ideas about taking responsibility for the risks associated with BSE and vCJD.

4) The import ban for beef products from Brazil will be kept in place until March, 2013 but until the results are presented and the consultation of the Food Safety Commission has reduced the risk, the import ban should be maintained. We also note that OIE still puts Brazil in the category of “negligible risk countries” and wonder why OIE is reluctant to change Brazil’s status. In addition, we strongly urge Japan to require all imported beef products to be fully investigated as soon as possible.

By: Kamiyama Michiko, FSCW