Monthly Archives: August 2008

Rice growers: strictly implement and enforce the March 2007 moratorium on GM field trials in California

Consumers Union of Japan and No! GMO Campaign have written to Californian rice growers, asking them to strictly implement and enforce the March 2007 moratorium on GM field trials in California.

We are still concerned about the undetermined events that led to the contamination of long grain rice in the Southern States and skeptical about the control of genetically modified crops. The events demonstrate that even experimental plots of small sizes could cause a large scale of contamination. The fact that a California mill was contaminated by GM Liberty Link rice is of great concern to us.

We have learned that field trials of genetically modified rice in California have taken place even after the adoption of the rice field trial moratorium resolution. We are aware that genetically modified rice varieties have been experimented with for over a decade in California near rice farms and research facilities. We are very concerned about the ongoing risk of contamination of short and medium grain rice in California that this presents.

On August 22, 2008, we received a reply from the California Rice Commission, stating that they are “very aware of the concerns of Japanese consumers regarding this issue.” They also explain that they “continue to take all available steps to ensure that an event like the one that occurred in the Southern United States does not happen in California.” They claim to be testing all rice for GM Liberty Link contamination, which we appreciate.

Stop aerial spraying of banana plantations!

Consumers Union of Japan supports the campaign against aerial spraying (using airplanes) on bananas in the Philippines. CUJ signed the online petition which can be found here.

In the Philippines, only export Cavendish banana plantations use aerial spraying to apply pesticides. Communities within and around these plantations complain of the health effects they suffer, contamination of water sources and destruction of their livelihoods.

After enduring this for years, affected residents and civil society groups waged an intensive campaign to stop the aerial spraying practice of banana plantations.

For more information, please visit the website

Hair analysis as a possible way to investigate heavy metal pollution

FSCW General Meeting Special Lecture: “Hair analysis as a possible way to investigate heavy metal pollution – interim report” by Dr. Hiroshi Yasuda, Director of La Belle Vie Preventive Medicine Laboratory

Summary of Lecture by Hiroshi Yasuda
April 26, 2008
Tokyo, Japan

We have conducted investigations to determine the degree of heavy metal pollution in hair from parents and children in Japan. This kind of study is rarely done, so we think the data is very valuable. Among the heavy metals that are needed by the body, intake of minerals through food is necessary to a certain degree. However, there are substances that do more harm, such as mercury, lead and cadmium. In Japan, these are known for the specific diseases they caused in the past, such as Minamata disease (mercury), lead poisoning, and the Itai-itai disease (cadmium). Also, arsenic in milk and water wells have caused health problems. Aluminum is known to cause dialysis encephalopathy syndrome, while copper has caused the Wilson disease. Even though they are all necessary substances, they can cause severe symptoms and disease if the intake is high.

In this study, we looked at the concentrations of harmful heavy metals in hair samples from 34 women (control group), 78 mothers, 49 children (female) and 31 children (boys). We investigated the levels, and generally we found that they were higher in the children than in their mothers.

We found that for both mercury and arsenic there was a positive correlation between levels found in mother and child. For cadmium, lead, and aluminum, there were significantly higher values in the children than in the mothers. Some among the children had 10 times higher levels compared to their mothers.

More details: Food Safety Citizen’s Watch Issue # 16

Please continue raising your dairy cattle with non-GMO feed!

080401-non-gmo-feed-letter (pdf)

The Non! GMO Campaign has sent a letter to Australian food producers regarding GM-free dairy products:

Japan currently imports farm products, beef and other meat products, dairy products, natural cheese, and wheat from the following top four countries: The United States, China, EU and Australia. Due to the outbreak of BSE in North America, Japan has increased its imports of beef from Australia and New Zealand, as we are aware of the fact that safe and delicious beef as well as dairy products are produced by grass feeding. In particular, we understand that since Australia has sufficient pasture land, you are raising cows with grass instead of feeding large amounts of grain.

However, we are very concerned that several states in your country lifted their moratoria against farming GM crops. We agree with the Australian NGO “Mothers against Genetic Engineering”, who say: “We want our children to drink milk from cows that are not fed with GM feed!”

Since Japan imports most of its feed from North America, GM feed is generally used for domestic dairy cows. Under such circumstances, we strongly support all dairy farmers here and abroad who are raising cows with non-GM feed. Japanese consumers actively choose dairy products from such dairy farmers. Japan imports dairy products including natural cheese from Australia, and we also import natural cheese from EU countries. If you allow GM feed for raising cows in Australia, Japanese consumers may choose European dairy products that are produced with milk from cows and goats raised locally with non-GM feed.

Australian food producers and Japan’s consumers should cooperate to secure GM-free dairy products.

G8 Action Network: Declaration of Participants in the International Solidarity Days

Make the Hokkaido Summit the Last Summit of the G8!–Declaration of Participants in the International Solidarity Days of the G8

The G8 Summit opened in Hokkaido in July, 2008 with the usual rhetoric of concern about conditions in Africa. These are statements that few people in Africa and the rest of the world take seriously, given how far the G8 governments are from raising the $20 billion they pledged for Africa at the Gleneagles Summit in 2005.

Indeed, if there is anything that distinguishes this particular G8 summit, it is its low credibility. In George Bush, Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Yasuo Fukuda, we have a group of discredited leaders who are very unpopular with their own electorates. Moreover, in addition to their broken promises on Africa, the G8 have also failed miserably to deliver on their other pledges, notably, canceling the debt of the poor countries, raising aid levels to 0.7 per cent of the GDP of the G8 countries, promoting development through trade, and tackling climate change.

As the G8 meet, the world is reeling from four crises that are unfolding simultaneously: the skyrocketing price of oil, the massive rise in the price of food, the financial crisis that is bringing the global economy to its knees, and the acceleration of global warming. To expect the G8 to come up with solutions to these crises is to expect the impossible since these are the inevitable consequences of the G8’s promotion of a project of globalization that has mainly benefited and enriched their corporate elites.

Read the entire declaration on the G8 Action Network website.