Dear Everyone, Date: 14 February 2020
In 2019 Consumers Union of Japan started a petition campaign and collected signatures demanding regulation of all gene-edited foods. Here are the results of the initial stage of the campaign which we have now ended.
From May 2019 to November we collected no less than 447,725 signatures in support of the petition. We did not reach our target of 1 million signatures, but we feel strongly that almost half a million signatures in such a short time is a great success, especially since almost no one in Japan seems to have heard of gene-editing or genome editing.
We organized an event at the Japanese Parliament Building on 30 January 2020 and had the opportunity to hand over the signatures to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of the Environment and the Consumer Agency. We made sure that everyone’s personal data was protected.
From abroad, we collected signatures from Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Brazil and Taiwan, in addition to 13 organizations and 10 researchers and university professors. We are very grateful for everyone’s cooperation and support.
However, in spite of almost 450,000 signatures being presented to them at the event, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare continued to argue that gene-editing is not genetic modification and thus does not need regulation or safety assessment, ignoring its effects on the natural environment.
In the same way, the Consumer Agency is ignoring the call for mandatory labelling of gene-edited foods, arguing that they are indistinguishable from mutations that may happen in the natural world.
Many consumers, however, are deeply unhappy with this state of affairs. We are saying, “We do not want to eat food which is the result of gene-editing and genetically modified organisms which have been created by the use of such technologies.” And we are demanding both safety assessment and mandatory labelling of such foods.
It is believed that gene-edited food was allowed to enter Japan by October 2019, but so far, they do not seem to go on the market. We cannot be entirely sure about this since there has been no safety assessment and no mandatory labelling.
Our movement is strong and we will continue to demand regulation of gene-edited food and mandatory labelling.
We also appreciate your continued support.
Michiyo Koketsu, Secretary General, CUJ
Martin J Frid, International Committee, CUJ
Consumers Union of Japan
Address: Nishi Waseda 1-9-19-207 Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo, Japan