Monthly Archives: October 2012

Highlights From The Negotiations In Hyderabad About Biological Diversity

Updates about GMOs from the Convention of Biological Diversity

It is not always easy to follow the details of the discussions and negotiations of international agreements… Media pays scant attention or ignores important concerns. Governments provide a massive amount of information but it is not easy to find or digest. Fortunately, NGOs are usually present both in the conference hall and in the corridors. For the current round of negotiations in Hyderabad, India, groups like CBD Alliance publish a newsletter called ECO with easy-to-understand updates.


Here are some highlights:

For the initial meeting, MOP6, many worried that the so-called Roadmap about genetically modified organisms would not be endorsed. This Roadmap deals with risk assessment, to make sure that countries know what they are getting into if they import certain GMOs that may disturb or pose a threat to their local biological diversity. Without proper risk assessment, countries will not have the tools necessary to take into account recent developments in risk research.

There was anger that the United States (not a Party to the Convention of Biological Diversity) has voiced its opposition to work regarding the consideration of socio-economic consequences of genetically modified organisms. Philip L Bereano, Washington Biotechnology Action Council, notes that the US has sponsored literally thousands of socio-economic assessments as part of government policy to aid decision-making. Why not for GMOs?

During the main meeting of the COP11, there was also great concern that the negotiators would suddenly “rewrite history” by editing out an earlier text that many NGOs and governments feel strongly about, regarding so-called “Terminator” crops. These are genetically modified to not be able to produce new fertile seeds, thus undermining the ancient right of farmers to save their own seed from their harvest. Such GMOs, dubbed “Terminator” back in the late 1990s, would give biotech companies like Monsanto (that holds the patents to the Terminator technology) immense power over global food production. Activists in Hyderabad were indignant that instead of deleting old decisions, countries should implement what they agree on at the CBD meetings! Finally, it was agreed to retain the text, after swift action from six countries.

Regarding genetically modified organisms, ECO published the following list of countries in the Asia Pacific region and how they deal with genetically modified organisms (GMO) by 2012:

Read our proposals to the Japanese government before the Hyderabad conference:
Protect Biodiversity From GMOs: Hyderabad MOP6 Meeting

Stop TPP Action/Occupy Monsanto

On the first Tuesday of every month, demonstrations will be held in front of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Tokyo. Together we can stop the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)!

Consumers Union of Japan has joined together with other organizations to strongly voice our opposition to TPP. Starting in August, 2012, a new campaign strategy was initiated as we met in front of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in central Tokyo under the theme of stopping the TPP. Ordinary citizens who are opposed to TPP joined elected Parliament members, representatives from local municipalities, self-governing bodies, labour unions and farmers’ organizations. Still, Prime Minister Noda and some parts of the government are urging Japan to join the controversial TPP negotiations. Since the decision to join appears to be imminent, we need to step up our protest activities in front of the Official Residence.

We invite everyone to join our next action meetings. The future dates are scheduled to be November 6, December 4, January 8 (first Tuesday of every month) at 18:00-20:00.

TPP is a way for American and Japanese multinational corporations to take control over the livelihoods of ordinary citizens. Consumers Union of Japan has been holding regular lectures since January, 2012 together with other NGOs about the related problems as seen from the perspective of consumers. During the course of these lectures, it became clear to everyone that TPP proposes unacceptable challenges and participation would be a huge mistake for Japan.

Lecture 1: “TPP problems viewed from the perspective of consumers”
Lecture 2: “Food labeling to be taken away from us”
Lecture 3: “Labour issues”
Lecture 4: “Medical treatment issues”

A total of six action meetings were held to “stop the rash act of TPP” from August 21 to September 25, 2012 in front of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Tokyo, on each Tuesday between 18:00 and 20:00. Some 100-400 participants have joined the events. Each time, representatives from different regions and rural areas around the country have joined. Speeches were held to reveal problems related to agriculture, medical treatment, health insurance system, food safety etc.

On September 18, 2012 the action event was tied together with the Occupy Monsanto campaign, with a protest rally outside the offices of the US biotech giant Monsanto’s head office in Tokyo, followed by a parade that went to Ginza and the Prime Minister’s Official Residence. Occupy Monsanto is an international effort to protest against genetically modified organisms and GM food.

Occupy Monsanto (E)

Different protest actions are planned for the coming months. In November, the event is held on Tuesday, November 6 from 18:00 to 20:00. This coincides with the US presidential election. The theme of the event will be to discuss what we can do about the situation as it is said that the brief time period directly after the US presidential election is the most dangerous time in terms of joining in the TPP negotiations. Let us raise our voices even more loudly and together stop TPP!

Campaign updates: (J)

Protect Biodiversity From GMOs: Hyderabad MOP6 Meeting

CUJ has joined other NGOs from around the world for the 6th Meeting of Parties (MOP6) of the Convention of Biological Diversity.

The United Nations conference is held in Hyderabad, India October 1-5, 2012. Just over 2 years ago, everyone met in Nagoya for the MOP5, as negotiators finalized the Nagoya – Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress, the important legal instrument to deal with damage due to genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Official website: COP/MOP6 Biodiversity Policy & Practice

September 30, 2012

Proposals for Japan to Introduce a National Legislation Regarding the
Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol:

A Call for Action on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity
Through Strict Regulations on the Use of Living Modified Organisms

Amend Japan’s Current Domestic Cartagena Protocol Legislation

* * *

Japan Citizens’ Network for Sustainable Food and Agriculture
Amagasa Keisuke
Kawata Masaharu

It is an undeniable fact that Japan imports a large amount of genetically modified organisms/living modified organisms (GMO/LMO). In recent years, we have seen a number of cases of problems where domestic agricultural products are genetically contaminated due to such imported GMOs.

During the course of the nation-wide investigations that we and other civic organizations have undertaken since 2004, wild-growing GM rapeseed (canola) plants have been found all around Japan, ranging from Hokkaido in the north to Chiba Prefecture, Hyogo prefecture, and Fukuoka Prefecture in the south. There have been many cases of hybridization and suspected cases of stacked traits (several GM traits in one type of organism), as well as crossing with other species that are related to rapeseed within the brassica family.

In Mie Prefecture, which for decades have carefully protected local speciality brand crops, it was decided to use seeds from outside the prefecture due to fear of GM contamination within the region.

In 2011, papaya-growers in Okinawa Prefecture were found to be using illegal GM papaya imported from Taiwan. The farmers, who did not even know that their trees were genetically modified to resist virus infections, had to cut down all their trees, incurring losses up to 70 million Yen.

In order to deal with these problems, Japan Citizens’ Network for Sustainable Food and Agriculture strongly urges the Japanese government to sign and ratify the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol, and amend its current national Cartagena Protocol law:

1) Amend Japan’s national legislation so that it reflects all the important issues raised in the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol, and take the international lead in ratifying the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol. Take special note of the following key issues:

1.a) Ensure that the legislation includes a reference to Article 15 in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development regarding the precautionary principle.
1.b) The term “damage” should include any negative influence to the biological diversity related to ecosystem services as a whole, such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and to the health of human beings.
1.c) The term “operator” should include the developer, producer and exporter (i.e. all who are involved in the marketing process) that contribute to commercializing the genetically modified organism.
1.d) In the case of damage, the redress system should give priority not only to financial compensation but to actual restoration to the original state.
1.e) Enact a special civil liability system to cover damages casued by the import of GMOs. Incorporate the following items in the system:

– The system should be based on strict liability.
– Ensure that the operator has retroactive obligations.
– Specify the centralized responsibility.
– Secure the victim’s right to take legal action.
– Ensure that an insurance fund is set up to cover the liability of operators in the case of GMO export and imports, in order to avoid any situation of insufficient compensation due to bankrupcy, etc.

2) Revise Japan’s current domestic Cartagena Protocol legislation and make sure that the related laws fully reflects the Cartagena Protocol. Take special note of the following key issues:

2.a) Ensure that the legislation includes a reference to the precautionary principle.
2.b) The target should include any activity related to ecosystem services as a whole, such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and the health of human beings.


(More photos can be found on Linkages, October 1, 2012)