Japanese Consumers’ Position on Genetically Modified Crops

Message in solidarity with our friends and colleagues in The Philippines

Japanese Consumers’ Position on Genetically Modified Crops

 We say “No!” to genetically modified foods whose safety has not been confirmed and which will lead to food domination by multinational corporations

Since 1996, when the distribution of genetically modified crops began, we, Japanese consumers, have been campaigning against genetically modified crops and foods, saying that we do not want them.

Consumers Union of Japan, which has been at the center of the movement, has three reasons for opposing GMOs and GM foods:

(1) Their safety as food has not been confirmed

(2) They may have a negative impact on the environment

(3) Multinational corporations are using them to gain control of our food supply

As for (1), the results of various animal experiments have pointed out the dangers of genetically modified foods. Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen, France, conducted a long-term feeding experiment on rats using genetically modified crops, and found that rats developed more cancers, had impaired detoxification organs, and lived shorter lives. Consumers Union of Japan welcomed Prof. Seralini to Japan in 2019 and held a symposium on the dangers of GMO foods and pesticides to inform Japanese consumers about these issues.

As for (2), in countries where GM crops are produced, the use of pesticides is rapidly increasing due to the expansion of genetically modified crops and the emergence of herbicide-resistant weeds and insecticide-resistant pests, causing soil contamination. In Japan, genetically modified oilseed canola imported from Canada and other countries has been spilling over and growing wild around ports and along main roads leading to oil mills, causing hybridization with native oilseed plants, related species and weeds. Since 2005, consumer cooperatives and citizens’ groups have conducted annual surveys of genetically modified canola throughout Japan, informing the Japanese government of the reality of GM contamination and calling for strict regulations on GM crops.

As for (3), Monsanto (now Bayer) and other companies that develop genetically modified seeds are trying to control the seeds through patents and thereby control the food supply. The UN World Food System Summit in September 2021 is a good example of this. We have participated in international actions such as the “Anti-Monsanto Day” and continue to take a stand against corporate control of food.

Japanese consumer oppose GM rice

In Japan, Monsanto was once involved in the research and development of genetically modified rice. When it was about to be submitted to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare for approval as a food product, consumers and farmers campaigned against it and had it stopped. We went to the GMO test sites and marched in the streets, saying that we could not accept the idea of genetically modifying our precious staple food, rice. Research and development of genetically modified rice is still underway in Japan, but it has not yet been put to practical use. This is because of the continued opposition from consumers and farmers.

Recently, genome editing technology is being used to develop rice. The research and development is being conducted by the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, the largest research institute in Japan. Consumers Union of Japan is opposed to both genetic modification and genome editing as they are technologies that manipulate genes of living organisms. In February 2021 we started a signature campaign to demand that seeds and seedlings be labeled as genetically modified, and in July, we submitted the first batch of 62,766 signatures to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

In this way, Consumer Union of Japan is opposed to genetically modified crops, and we continue to oppose Golden Rice together with MASIPAG and other Asian NGOs. Rice is a staple food for the people of Asia, and an important food that is deeply connected to our local culture and traditions. Consumers Union of Japan is strongly opposed to the commercialization of Golden Rice and will continue to work in solidarity with our friends in Asia.

4 August 2021

Consumers Union of Japan

English Website: http://www.nishoren.org/en/

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