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/

English Twitter: https://twitter.com/consumerunionjp/

OK SEED Mark has been Launched!

Our friends and colleagues over at the Japan Organic Agriculture Association have together with other groups and experts created a new label to help farmers and consumers avoid genetically modified foods and gene-edited foods. They write in a recent press release:

The Japanese government has confirmed that seeds and food products can be labeled as “non-gene-edited” if there is solid proof to back-up the claim.  If seeds can be labeled as “non-gene-edited”, then the crops and processed foods that results from the seeds can also be labeled, making it possible to protect the entire food chain. We should, therefore, start with seeds.

After careful consultation with seeds producers, farmers, processors, and consumers who are interested in food safety, a collective decision was made to create the OK SEED Mark, a voluntary labeling of seeds, seedlings and foods as non-gene-edited. The OK SEED Project was initiated to promote this initiative.

The OK SEED Mark can be used free of charge though the registration is required. Looking ahead, we would like to create opportunities for people to learn about the issues around gene-edited food, and expand and protect people’s right to choose by spreading the OK SEED Mark throughout Japan.

We hope that many people involved in seed production, food production, and distribution, as well as all consumers will use and spread the OK SEED Mark. Please join us in the OK SEED Project, and use the OK SEED Mark.

Read more on the OK SEED Project website.

 

Protect Organic Agriculture from Genetic Engineering

Genome-edited tomato seedlings are being distributed, and genome-edited foods, a new genetic engineering technology, are about to appear on our dinner tables without labeling. Currently, there is no obligation to label genetically-edited seeds and seedlings, and the distribution of genome-edited crops has become a major problem, especially for organic farming, which is designed to ensure safety and security and to preserve the ecosystem.

We have gathered the voices of consumers, producers, and businesses, and have been collecting signatures since February 2021, calling for the labeling of genetic engineering on seeds and seedlings, as a first step toward genetic engineering labeling. We will submit the results to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, convey our requests, and exchange opinions. Please join us. You can also participate online.

Application form (in Japanese) here

Date: 30 July 2021 (Friday) 13:30-15:30

Place: Members’ Office Building of the House of Councillors B107

Map: https://www.sangiin.go.jp/japanese/annai/shisan.pdf

Fukushima 10 Years Later: Voices From the Continuing Nuclear Disaster

On the 10th anniversary of one of the worst nuclear accidents at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, and amid the controversial decision of the Japanese government to dump “treated” radioactive water into the ocean, Japanese NGOs Friends of the Earth Japan and Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC) co-produced a documentary film Fukushima 10 Years Later: Voices from the continuing nuclear disaster. The film sheds light on the ongoing suffering of victims of the accident and poses critical questions about the Japanese government’s poor responses to the accident.

While then-Prime Minister Abe vainly declared to the world that “the situation in Fukushima is completely under control”, nuclear decays are continuing inside the molten fuel rods, and the exploded plants are still emitting radioactive particles to this day. In the meanwhile, evacuees are torn apart in limbo, with grim hopes of returning to their homeland, continued fear of radioactive fallout, and a dire socio-economic situation. Fisherfolk, who overcame the initial fear of ocean contamination, are forced to relive the experience each time TEPCO and the Japanese government repeatedly choose to release contaminated water into the ocean.

This happens all under the propaganda that Fukushima is pressing ahead with “Fukkou (Recovery)”. This video aims to highlight the current situation of the victims of the man-made disaster, and challenge the government propaganda of Fukushima’s Recovery.

Fukushima 10 Years Later: Voices from the continuing nuclear disaster
Produced by Friends of the Earth Japan and Pacific Asia Resource Center
Supervised by Hosokawa Komei (Citizens’ Commission on Nuclear Energy)
Directed by Matsumoto Hikaru (Friends of the Earth Japan)
Running time: 43 min.

The English subtitled version of the film is now available on Vimeo on Demand:
https://vimeo.com/ondemand/fukushima10years
Cost: (rental) 600 Yen (purchase) 4,950 Yen
For further information on the film, please contact OKUMURA Yuto, Pacific Asia Resource Center
E-mail: video@parc-jp.org

Consumers Union of Japan Invites You to Our Annual Symposium

Consumers Union of Japan invites you to our annual symposium:

Program
13:30 – 13:40 Greetings

13:40 – 14:00 Toshiyuki Saito:  What we have seen from the Green Food System Strategy

14:00 – 14:20 Keisuke Amagasa: Biotechnology is incompatible with organic agriculture: Dangerous RNA pesticides

14:20 – 14:25 Break

Panel discussion (Yoshihide Kanno , Regine Maeda, Toshiyuki Saito, Keisuke Amagasa)

14:25 – 14:35 Yoshihide Kanno, “Creating a multi-layered, cyclical agriculture and community” (Online participation from Yamagata)

14:35 – 14:45 Mrs. Regine Maeda, “From a village in the south of France” (Online participation from France)

14:45 – 15:30 Panel discussion and summary

Place: Rengo Kaikan, Tokyo

◆参加費のお支払いについて
まだ振り込まれていない方は、できるだけ早急にお願いいたします。
参加費:一般800円、日消連会員・学生500円
振込先口座は以下をご覧ください。
https://nishoren.net/flash/16091