Monthly Archives: January 2010

Survey: Japan’s Wheat Importers Reject GMO

no gmo campaignThe No! GMO Campaign has conducted a survey, clearly showing that Japanese wheat companies do not want to import or handle genetically modified wheat that consumers do not desire

In June 2009, there were renewed efforts in North America to introduce genetically modified wheat for commercial cultivation. Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, a citizen group based in Ottawa, started a global campaign to reject GM wheat. By January, 2010, some 177 groups from 23 countries have signed the appeal to stop the commercialization of GM wheat. We are pleased to see that groups in Europe, Asia and South America have also joined the campaign.

In 2004, when Monsanto first applied for permission to sell GM wheat to farmers in the United States and Canada, our No! GMO Campaign led the efforts to stop the cultivation. We visited farmers and companies in the US and Canada, explaining that Japan would not buy GM wheat. If this did not stop Monsanto, we found that the strong push from Japan’s flour milling industry had the desired effect. At that time, the wheat importers made a strong and unified appeal to reject Monsanto’s GM wheat.

We decided to once again confirm the status of the Japanese flour milling industry, to make sure that their opinion has not changed. In December, 2009 we sent a questionnaire to 24 companies that are members of the Seifun Kyoukai (Japan’s Flour Millers Association). We also included a strongly worded statement, emphasizing that consumers in this country do not want to eat foods made with genetically modified wheat. Continue reading Survey: Japan’s Wheat Importers Reject GMO

World Social Forum: Another World Is Possible

10 years have passed since the failed World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. Soon after that, activists and experts, along with the many representatives of different non-governmental organizations that had participated in Seattle, both in the demonstrations and inside the conference halls, created the World Social Forum. This was an effort to change the debate from “anti-WTO” or “anti-globalization” to discuss how to create a way forward towards a more fair global order.

On Sunday, January 24, 2009, the forum meets in Tokyo under the theme of Another World is Possible. Yasuaki Yamaura from Consumers Union of Japan will participate as facilitator. Update: Read Yamaura-san’s report! Continue reading World Social Forum: Another World Is Possible

In Memory of Urano Hisako

Mizuhara Hiroko writes:

Ms. Urano Hisako, who supported the international activities over the past 20 years at Consumers Union of Japan, has passed away on 2009 December 14. She was only 60 year old. I first met Urano-san as Consumers Union of Japan planned its 20th anniversary in August 1989: When we started the work to prepare for the large Asian Pacific Consumers’ Conference (APCC) held in Omiya, Japan, she began working as a volunteer at our office.

Urano-san, together with almost 50 other volunteers who were fluent in English, contributed to the success of the APCC, coordinating this large meeting as we welcomed 20 guests from countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Continue reading In Memory of Urano Hisako

GM Rice And Contamination Cases Worry Consumers In Japan

Japanese consumers are strongly opposed to genetically modified foods, according to several large opinion polls. The news that China has approved GM rice was thus a surprise for everyone who cares about health and the environment. China currently does not export much rice, but Japanese food companies are increasingly setting up factories to produce frozen foods like the gyoza dumplings that were in the news in 2008, when packages with contaminated products were found in Japanese supermarkets. Unapproved GM rice that was grown illegally in China was also found in Europe in 2006, and in Heinz baby food products sold in China and Hong Kong.

rice-noodles-from-chinaIn January 2007, the unauthorized GM rice, a strain called Bt 63 was found in a number of products imported to Japan. Then in May 2007, tests on a cargo of harusame (rice noodles) made by Guangdong Dongguan Jinying Rice Stick Factory of China turned out positive for illegal GM rice. Two other violations involved mochi (sticky rice flower products) from two other Chinese manufacturers.

“We don’t believe the Chinese authorities have the capacity to check carefully if the GM rice is safe or not, “ says Amagasa Keisuke at the Tokyo-based No! GMO Campaign. “They also don’t seem to have the capacity to keep illegal GM seeds away from commercial farmers, and we are worried that this will have a huge impact on Japan.” Continue reading GM Rice And Contamination Cases Worry Consumers In Japan