Category Archives: Environment

Japan Resources – 189

Please click here for our latest English newsletter (pdf): JR 189


From the Editors: Over 90 Consumer Organisations Have Signed Our Peace Appeal!

Symposium: Let’s Connect Citizens for Peace in Asia! Peace Action by Japan, Korea and Taiwan

90 + Support For Our Consumer Peace Effort

GM Zucchini Found in South Korea: How about Japan?

Action Day to Bring Citizens’ and Farmers’ Voices to the G7 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to Stay GM Free

Open Letter of Inquiry on Artificial Turf

In the News: Corteva’s Genome-Edited Maize Not Commercially Cultivated at Present

From the Editors: Over 90 Consumer Organisations Have Signed Our Peace Appeal!

Consumers Union of Japan and Shufuren Association of Consumer Organizations, took the initiative to protest against Japan’s proposal to increase its military spending. Over 90 groups including many local co-operatives have now joined together. It is a pretty impressive movement!

For our Annual Meeting on 18 June we have invited speakers from Taiwan and South Korea, who share our views on peace in this region of the world. You can join us in Tokyo or follow the Peace Action online.

– Editors

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to stay GM free

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the world’s leading forest product certifier, has decided to back away from a process that critics said would have opened the door to overturning FSC’s long-time core certification policy that prohibits the commercial use of genetically modified (GM) trees. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, which closely monitored the FSC discussions, noted: “The field testing and release of GM trees pose unprecedented threats to forests, wildlife, and communities that live near them.”

In November 2022, Consumers Union of Japan joined over 130 environmental and social justice groups from 34 countries that signed a statement to stop GM trees.

Blog: Dialogue, Share; No to Monopoly

Recently, an acquaintance entrusted me with proofreading a manuscript. It was a large work about Hannibal, the Carthaginian warrior who fought against Rome in the Mediterranean world in ancient times. Although I had to read many war stories, I was reminded that human beings have not changed one iota between the societies of B.C. and those of today.

In search of food, resources, and wealth, humans tend to wage wars of aggression with cease-fires, make and break alliances, and so on. To win wars, human wisdom is invested and technological innovations are advanced. (Archimedes even invented a new stone thrower.)

In wars, casualties are suffered and resources are wasted. Modern society, for example, has become completely stuck, as it were, in a state of exhaustion due to excessive science and technology, which is damaging the natural environment on which all human beings depend and our own health.

In order to achieve our goal here at Consumers Union of Japan, of “connecting healthy lives to the future,” neither war nor the development of new technologies is necessary. We do not need to monopolize the world by force, but to share it through dialogue.

As Kohei Saito, a noted author of “Capitalism in the New Age,” says, “Rebirth of the Common” will be the key. Human wisdom should not be used to win wars, but to bring smiles to everyone’s faces.

(Keiko Fukaya)

Stop Gene Drives

Consumers Union of Japan has signed the global appeal to stop gene drives:

Gene drive technology uses new genetic engineering techniques including CRISPR/Cas9 to forcibly spread genetically engineered traits, including lethal ones, throughout entire populations and species of organisms. Once released into the environment, gene drive organisms cannot be recalled nor controlled thus preempting and overriding the ability of nations, Indigenous Peoples, local communities and future generations to take their own decisions.

Gene drives work against natural rules of inheritance forcing nearly 100% instead of the usual 50% of offspring to inherit their genetically engineered traits. Whereas existing bio­safe­ty systems are designed to limit the spread and persistence of living modified organisms to mitigate against adverse impacts, gene drives are intended to spread genetic modifications to alter species and ecosystems. This would undermine the integrity of the UN Cartagena Protocol and international and national biosafety systems, including the procedures for Advanced Informed Agreement (AIA) of countries and Free, Prior and Informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

Read more here, and learn about this New Genetic Technique, that should be regulated and banned. Media in Europe is already covering the campaign, link here.


Promoting Organic School Lunches in Japan

Report on the Special Forum for the Promotion of Organic School Lunches all over Japan

By Koa Tasaka, CUJ

The forum was held on 26 October in Nakano, Tokyo. Over 1100 persons attended physically, and over 1800 joined on-line. In addition, 62 satellite places were set up all over Japan, with some 700 persons joining such events. Among those who attended in the main hall, there were 33 City Mayers including Mr. Ohta, Isumi City Mayor who has spear-headed the effort to introduce organic school lunches in his city. Nine Members of Parliament also attended. I attended the meeting as one of the organizers, and I found many persons I know in the hall such as Mr. Keisuke Amagasa of Consumers Union of Japan and representatives from the Civil Institute of Organic Rice Cultivation.

The program included reports by experts from France and South Korea, along with videos on the activities of school lunches with organic food from various places in Japan. There was a panel discussion as well as presentations by Prof. Nobuhiro Suzuki, Tokyo University, and by Ms. Seiko Uchida, representative of PARC. Ms. Yae, a singer and organic farmer, sang Amazing Grace at the end of the meeting before the declaration for promoting organic school lunches was announced. In addition, there were short speeches by representatives from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Agriculture, which is significant since these ministries will have to do something positive to promote school lunches with organic ingredients after giving speeches in front of so many people.

As a chemist, I know that the bread provided for everyday school lunches in Japan is made from imported wheat, which is highly contaminated with pesticides such as malathion, sumithion, or reldan. Recently, imported wheat from US has been found to be contaminated with glyphosate (Roundup) as well.

Japan’s Ministry of Education has disclosed a statement that over six percent of Japanese school children have some mental problems, without discussing the cause of these problems. Although it is not possible to prove it, mental problems among children may be related to the chemical contamination of school lunches. That is the reason why I am involved with the movement to replace school lunches using bread made from imported wheat to organically grown rice and vegetables. In that sense, I am very happy to see the development of the school lunch system in Japan with organically produced foods. I really hope that this movement develops further, so that children can grow in good health all over Japan!