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.
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.
The 64 pages booklet is in Japanese. You can order it here:
Every year at this time of the year, I feel depressed. It’s the time of year when aerial pesticide spraying for rice stink bug control takes place. After a few years of living in rural areas, I’ve seen one aspect of the dwindling number of farmers. They have to rely on aerial spraying to save labor. There are many elderly people who don’t want to use herbicides who can’t cope with the vigorous growth of weeds, so they are dependent on them.
Not only in the town where I live, but also in neighboring towns and villages, young people are leaving for the big cities, and those who are engaged in farming are mostly in their 70s or 80s. The number of abandoned fields is increasing year by year due to the lack of manpower, so fields are in disrepair. Satoyama (mountainous farm areas) are no longer maintained, and damage from monkeys, deer and wild boars is increasing.
Most urban residents think that they can get food at convenience stores and supermarkets anytime, but due to the effects of the new corona virus pandemic and climate change, the number of countries exporting food to Japan may decrease dramatically in the future. I really wonder what will happen to Japan then, as our food self-sufficiency rate is only 37%. Large cities with “dense” populations and rural areas that are exhausted by the outflow of population… I can only hope that the unbalanced distribution of human beings in this country will be restored through the pandemic.
Have you ever heard of Neonics (Neo-nicotinoid insecticides)? Even though it is getting banned in EU and throughout the world because of its danger to human health, it is used in Japan. Children’s lives, nature and Japanese agriculture must be protected. This is why Coop Shizenha, choose to be Neonics-free.
You can reduce your exposure by adopting an organic diet – do watch the videos.
Translation by Tasaka Koa, Consumers Union of Japan