Category Archives: Chemical pollution

Nationwide Chinese Consumer Study: 46.7% of Respondents Negative View on GM Food

China has reached a decision point as to whether it should accept, reject, or go slow with the use of genetically modified (GM) technology to produce the food and feed needed to sustain its population growth and economic renaissance. Here, we report a consumer survey on GM food that includes input from all provinces in China. Chinese consumers were surveyed for their awareness, knowledge, and opinion on GM food. The survey resulted in 11.9, 41.4, and 46.7% of respondents having a positive, neutral, or negative view on GM food, respectively.

Genetically modified (GM) technology is a highly controversial topic for today’s global food consumer. The commercial development of GM crops began in 1996 with GM corn and has expanded every year with the cultivation of GM crops.

Chinese food safety scandals have been a growing concern for Chinese consumers in recent years. The incidences of illegal “gutter oil” used in cooking, pesticide residue contamination, use of feed additives and polluted water along the food chain are common problems and even with proper regulatory oversight, the risk for criminal activity is ever present. The consumers in China, as well as consumers in other parts of the world, are increasingly risk adverse and seek out “clean, natural food”.

Public perception of genetically-modified (GM) food: A Nationwide Chinese Consumer Study

npj Science of Foodvolume 2, Article number: 10 (2018)

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41538-018-0018-4

Please Stop Selling Wheat Flour with Glyphosate Residue

17 January 2019

 

To:

Nisshin Foods

Nisshin Seifun Group

Showa Sangyo

 

Please stop selling wheat flour with glyphosate residue

Consumers Union of Japan and the No! GMO Campaign work together for safe and healthy food for all consumers.

We tested wheat flour from different companies for the residue of the herbicide glyphosate, and detected such residue in products sold by your company.

In 2015, WHO’s International Cancer Research Institute has concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” In 2016, a joint report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN said that there was some evidence of association between glyphosate exposure and risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in some studies.

Our investigation found levels of residue of glyphosate in your wheat flour that was lower than the standard limit set by the Japanese government. However, studies in other countries have shown negative health effects in test animals even at such low levels.

Consumers do not want to be exposed to glyphosate. We do not want to buy or eat food made with such products. We ask that you use the precautionary principle and please stop using wheat which has been treated with glyphosate.

Consumers Union of Japan                    No! GMO Campaign

Keisuke Amagasa                                        Keisuke Amagasa

Kazuoki Oono

 

 

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)

How to Reduce the Use of Plastics?

A world-wide debate about the dangers of plastic pollution has led to the introduction of stricter laws in many countries. Japan seems to lag behind so far, but consumers can start reducing the use of plastics in many ways. Many people already bring their cloth bags to the supermarket when you go shopping. In some shops, you get a 2 Yen reduction on the price, but if everyone was serious about it, and the amount raised to 10 Yen or even more, the effect would be immediate.

In the Sugiura household, we tried to reduce the amount of plastic wrapping for food. It wasn’t an immediate success as not everyone went along with the plan. However, little steps can have remarkable consequences. Consumers Union of Japan is asking readers and members to contribute with their own creative proposals.

Essay: The Bizarre World of Plastics

When plastic materials were first discovered, they were brittle and fragile. Thus, a number of additives and “plasticizers” were introduced to counter the effects of ultraviolet light and make the materials more flexible and useful. Flame retardants were introduced as well. By the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, plastic pollution intensified. Plastic materials must be disposed of, making the garbage problem severe. In Tokyo, the toxic air pollution from the Yume-no-shima incinerators created health problems as increasing amounts of trash were thrown away by consumers.

No thought went into what would happen to plastic materials that were left in the environment. The degradation takes time. Plastic materials basically just turn into smaller plastic fragments. It becomes an invisible danger as animals ingest the fragments, even entering the human food chain. In spite of this, the makers of plastic materials, including Showa Denko, Mitsubishi Chemical, BASF and Du Pont, claim that their novel products are bio-degradable. This has led to the rather bizarre state of the world we are now facing, where the idea that plastics can simply be thrown away has been increasingly promoted.

By Amagasa Keisuke, CUJ

Press Release: Appeal for World Food Day

Our goal is a world with no genetically modified foods and an end to the multinational corporate control of the global food supply

October 16 is the World Food Day, as designated by the United Nations. The aim is to combat hunger and promote agriculture, while the forces that makes this difficult to achieve are having the opposite results. Regional conflicts and nationalism are increasing poverty. We are especially concerned about the concentration of economic resources into the hands of just a few corporations that control the global economy. At the same time, governments have embarked on EPAs and FTAs that ignores public opinion and lead to more division in society.

In just the past 12 months, the worst case scenario has become reality, with multinational agribusiness takeovers and mergers, much as we predicted over 20 years ago. This is a de facto monopoly over the global seed supply and cannot be accepted. How are we as consumers and farmers supposed to react to Bayer taking over Monsanto, while DuPont merged with Dow, and Syngenta was purchased by a ChemChina, the Chinese chemical company, except to oppose it? Our health and freedom to farm and purchase food that we can trust will now be completely at mercy of these few multinational corporations that control genetically modified crops through DNA patent rules and global agreements on intellectual property rights and other strong-arm tactics.

At the same time, this year we learned that genetically modified salmon has been approved in North America in spite of protests. This is the first GM animal to be sold as food. If this is acceptable, where does it lead us next? New GM technologies such as genome editing and RNA interference are also increasingly being promoted. Examples include canola and potatoes developed with these new GM techniques.

As if this is not enough, in April 2017 the Japanese government suddenly abolished the 1952 Seed Law, after multinational corporations engaged in the seed business complained that the publicly funded seed program hindered their attempts to expand their business. After only a few hours of deliberation at the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Committees of the Parliament, the new Seed Law bill was passed without any concern for the possible impacts on our agriculture and food systems. Instead, we maintain that the trend to undermine Japan’s public seed program for major crops should be stopped. We should ensure that the national and local governments will remain involved in the seed program as an essential part of our food security policy.

We have clear evidence that agriculture as promoted by multinational corporations are destroying the health of citizens, in particular children. It has been admitted that agricultural chemicals are the main cause of allergies, which are becoming increasingly common, and evidence from the United States show that children’s development is impaired by such residue in food. The most serious problem is GM foods as their introduction 20 years ago has led to a drastic increase in the amount of toxic glyphosate used and consumed. However, the Japanese government keeps changing the allowed residue levels leading to higher levels of pesticides and herbicides, even relaxing the standard for glyphosate as recently as July, 2017. We need to radically change the current thinking about agriculture and get rid of dangerous chemicals from our food supply.

We believe in expansion of agriculture that is small-scale and organic, with local production for local consumption, within an international framework that connects citizens around the world. Co-operation is the basis for world peace. Furthermore, we believe that World Food Day should stand for agriculture without harmful chemicals, allowing no genetically modified or genome edited foods. We will continue to fight against multinational corporations and their systems that lead to hunger and malnutrition.

October 16, 2017

Consumers Union of Japan

No! GMO Campaign