12 years of campaigning for more domestic soybeans in Japan
Soybean Field Trust Movement: Nationwide Meeting in Shinjo, Japan
Press Release: Conference Declaration
Today, we have returned to Shinjo City in Yamagata Prefecture 12 years after the Soybean Trust Movement was launched here in this wonderful furusato (rural) environment. The Soybean Trust Movement responded to the appearance of genetically modified soybeans that were imported from the United States. The aim has been to raise awareness among both farmers and consumers regarding how we can jointly raise Japan’s low self-sufficiency rate. Over the past 12 years we have made every effort to make safe soybean foods available to all consumers, who could appreciate the homegrown soybeans without any worries or concerns. In addition, we recognize that the bond between farmers and consumers has been strengthened, showing the way to the future of food in this country.
It was the introduction of GM crops that led us to start this movement, and we now feel the winds are changing. In Europe, the rejection of genetic engineering continues, and from the United States the reports are confirming our worst fears. Insects are increasingly developing tolerance to pesticides and herbicide-resistant weeds are on the rise, tormenting the GM crop farmers. For GM soybeans, there are now for the first time a reduction in cultivation in the United States. From Argentina, there are reports of damage to the ecosystem and to farmers as strong agrochemicals are applied on GM crops.
We also note that the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has issued a call for an immediate moratorium on genetically modified foods, concluding that “GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.”
Meanwhile, here in Japan we have discovered more GM canola growing in the wild near harbours and roads to food oil factories, and for the first time noted the hybridization of GM broccoli. Nevertheless, the GM industry is active as usual in its efforts to promote GM crops. Near us here in Shinjo in neighboring Miyagi Prefecture, Tohoku University will start field trials with experiments to develop and compare two types of rice modified to be more sensitive to ultraviolet light.
If that goes ahead as planned, there is a possibility that GM crops will continue to devastate the environment and harm the health of people, in what is called sashi chigai in Japanese, or “to die on each other’s swords.”
Furthermore, we note that Nagoya, Japan is the host of the COP10/MOP5 meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity on October 18-29, 2010. On the national level, we are pushing for a discussion in the Parliament on how to tighten the domestic laws for species protection and the Cartagena Protocol legislation in Japan to include agriculture and human health. Already, there is an increased focus on how GM crops are destroying the environment, and the Parliament has started a debate on how to improve the food labelling rules and food certification mark system.
We pledge to take this opportunity to change the trend so far, which has led to increased control over the global food supply through the introduction of genetic engineering. We will stem the tide towards safe and healthy foods by helping to develop local and regional agriculture. We will continue to expand the Soybean Trust Movement and increase Japan’s food self-sufficiency ratio, and strengthen our resolve to get rid of GM soybeans from our dining tables. With this, farmers and consumers can continue to cooperate for safe and healthy food, supporting Japanese food and agriculture for tomorrow.
Signed by all the participants at the nationwide
Soybean Trust Movement Meeting
Shinjo, Yamagata Prefecture, Japan
February 20, 2010