It has been almost 10 months since genome-edited foods became available for distribution in Japan. Although your ministry’s website indicates that no notification has been made yet, the sale of “cricket crackers” made from genome-edited crickets was reported on 13 May 2020, causing concern among consumers. This turned out to be a false alarm, but later on, information was received that genome-edited crickets were being used at a ramen restaurant in Tokyo. The staff at the restaurant had actively admitted to using them, and when we reconfirmed their use, they denied it, but we cannot confirm whether this is true or not. Most importantly, this is due to the lack of notification requirements. It is possible that other genome-edited foods are being developed and distributed under the radar. A total of 447,725 signatures submitted at the House Study Session we held in September 2019 and January this year calling for the regulation and labeling of genome-edited foods were gathered in anticipation of this unsettling situation.
At the House Study Session in January, we heard from your ministry’s officials that they have already received a number of consultations on how to report on the issue, but despite the fact that more than six months have passed since then, the government is still showing a lack of interest in the issue.
We would therefore like to request a meeting with your ministry to discuss this issue. As the new coronavirus continues to spread, we would be happy to meet with you in a small group. If you are unable to meet with us in person, we would be happy to have an online meeting. Here are the main points we’d like to ask you at this time. Please respond to the following questions by 14 August.
What is the status of consultations on the notification of genome-edited foods?
Are you aware of the status of research and development in Japan and abroad?
What is your understanding of genome-edited crickets?
Have you ever heard of Neonics (Neo-nicotinoid insecticides)? Even though it is getting banned in EU and throughout the world because of its danger to human health, it is used in Japan. Children’s lives, nature and Japanese agriculture must be protected. This is why Coop Shizenha, choose to be Neonics-free.
You can reduce your exposure by adopting an organic diet – do watch the videos.
Translation by Tasaka Koa, Consumers Union of Japan
Over the past three years Consumers Union of Japan has campaigned against harmful perfumes and irritating fragrances. Many people have lobbied schools, offices and public spaces to stop using any such artificial substances, that can cause headaches, allergic reactions and a range of other symptoms.
This year, we published a questionnaire and got over 9000 replies regarding this campaign. We found that 79% felt they have experiences problems due to perfumes and fragrances. And 18.6% of those who replied have had such strong reactions that they could not attend school or work. We strongly feel this shows the urgent reality of this matter and will continue to raise awareness. You can help by ordering our 68 page booklet and print out our posters, that you can use to educate those around you (in Japanese).
As part of our ongoing work to get rid of the herbicide glyphosate (active ingredient in Roundup and several other herbicides) the No! GMO Campaign wrote to all major railway companies in Japan early in 2020. Many people are concerned about the spraying of this cancer-causing chemical to kill weeds along train tracks. And several railway companies have revealed in their environmental reports or sustainability reports that they are trying to reduce the use of herbicides. Unfortunately, none of the railway companies replied to our letter and did not answer our questions. As part of our campaign, we also asked the railway companies, including JR, Odakyu Line, Keio Line, Seibu Line and others to completely stop using glyphosate.
When we wrote to them a second time this spring, only a few companies replied:
JR East Japan: We do not reveal the names of individual herbicides that we use
Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PANAP) issued the following criticism of the 10 Billion US Dollar payout to victims of glyphosate poisoning:
Penang, Malaysia—Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PANAP) today said that corporate accountability and justice for victims of glyphosate poisoning is still wanting, after agrochemical giant Bayer’s more than $10 Billion settlement of 95,000 suits filed by glyphosate users in the US.
Considered as among the largest settlements ever in US civil litigation, the payout however contains “no admission of liability and wrongdoing” by Bayer’s Monsanto, manufacturer of RoundUp (glyphosate). Glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is the subject of thousands of lawsuits for its link with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer. It is included in PAN International’s list of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) that are targeted for global elimination or phase-out.
The settlement includes $1.25 billion for potential future claims from Roundup customers who may develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A so-called “independent” panel of scientists will be set up to decide whether Roundup causes cancer—however, Bayer will be involved in selecting such a panel. The settlement also allows for Bayer to continue selling RoundUp without safety warnings. Some 30,000 individuals have refused to become part of the settlement.