Tag Archives: Biotechnology

Wild-growing GM Canola Still a Problem

Activists have for many years participated in actions around harbours all around Japan. They collect and test wild-growing canola along roads and near food oil factories. The import of Genetically Modified canola, which started in the late 1990s, led to GM plants growing wild, an unintentional effect that poses a risk to the biodiversity of similar plants. Canola is a member of the Brassica genus and many other edible plants are grown in Japan, thus increasing the risk that cross-contamination will occur of related foods like cabbage or broccoli.

In 2006, the government started taking an interest in this issue, after intense lobbying by CUJ and the No! GMO Campaign, who are helping to organise the testing. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF) has again this year announced that they have found GM canola growing wild around seven harbours (Tomakomai, Kashima, Chiba, Nagoya, Yokkaichi, Kobe and Hakata). They also found wild-growing GM soy at one harbour (Hakata).

It is believed that the imported seeds easily fall off conveyor belts and lorries as they are transported from the ships that enter the harbours. According to Bio Journal, when 165 individual seeds of Brassica napus were tested, 20 were discovered to have resistance to both glyphosate and glufosinate.

Read more: MAFF reports results of GM rapeseed, GM soy wild volunteer survey

Read CUJ’s 2010 report about wild-growing canola

Questionnaire Regarding Vaccination Against COVID-19

CUJ has submitted the following questionnaire to the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, Mr. Katsunobu Kato.

On 31 July 2020, your ministry announced that it had reached a basic agreement with Pfizer Inc. of the United States to supply 60 million people with a new coronavirus vaccine by June of next year, if the vaccine is successful. Your ministry also announced on 7 August that it had reached an agreement in principle with AstraZeneca of the United Kingdom to receive 120 million doses of the vaccine, if successful, by early next year. Developed countries are working to secure the vaccine, and your ministry is actively working to secure it. This is a major agreement at a time when vaccines are not yet available and their effectiveness and safety are not even known.

Vaccines are causing health problems, especially among children, due to adverse reactions. Vaccines, unlike drugs, are administered to healthy people. We must be cautious as well as careful. In order to hasten the development of this new biotech vaccine, they are being developed in a different way than the traditional method of development, and the way the vaccine works is completely different. Moreover, large-scale vaccination is being considered. We can’t help but be very concerned about the damage caused by adverse reactions. For this reason, we would like to ask the following questions:

Continue reading Questionnaire Regarding Vaccination Against COVID-19

Request to Stop Using Pre-harvest Glyphosate on Soybeans

To:

JA Toyama Prefecture

From:

No! GMO Campaign

Consumers Union of Japan                                                                                25 August 2020

 

Request to stop using pre-harvest glyphosate on soybeans

We are a consumer organization working for food safety. We are engaging in a number of initiatives to oppose genetically modified foods and genome-edited foods and demand prudent use of the herbicides and pesticides associated with them. In recent years, we have strengthened our monitoring of glyphosate herbicides, especially in light of the recent revelations of their harmfulness and the progress of global regulations.

In the midst of this situation, we were informed that the glyphosate was detected in soybeans and processed foods shipped from your prefecture’s JA plant. Glyphosate is a suspected carcinogenic with other toxic effects. We are concerned to learn that it is being sprayed as a wilt agent before the wheat harvest in North America and that pre-harvest spraying is being carried out on soybeans here in Japan as well. We are concerned that the spraying of harmful pesticides has a high risk of harming the health of farmers, and that spraying just before harvest can lead to significant residues in the harvest. While the Pesticide Control Act allows for the application of herbicides and pesticides in the field of soybeans prior to harvest, the purpose of using glyphosate is solely for weed control. We believe it is illegal to use glyphosate for soybean wilt or to use them in such a way that they affect the soybeans.

We, as consumers, used to think that domestic soybeans were safe because many imported soybeans are now genetically modified and new genome-edited soybeans have appeared in the United States. However, we are concerned that the detection of glyphosate in domestically produced soybeans may make it impossible to say that such soybeans are safe because they are domestically produced.

We would like to ask you to instruct your prefecture’s JA to stop using glyphosate in soybeans prior to harvest, and ask the following questions. We would like to ask you to respond in writing by 8 September. We plan to publish your answers on our website.

Questions:

  1. Have your prefecture’s headquarters ever advised JAs in your prefecture to recommend or allow spraying with glyphosate before the harvest of soybeans?
  1. Do you know whether or not your prefecture’s JAs apply glyphosate before the harvest of soybeans?
  1. Are you aware that in 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer evaluated glyphosate as a possible carcinogen for humans, and that in the United States, a large number of plaintiffs have won lawsuits against glyphosate manufacturers?
  1. Could you instruct JA in the prefecture to stop using glyphosate before harvest? When, if at all, will you instruct them to stop? If not, please tell us why you will not do so.

CUJ Supports ‘“Defend Our Rice, Fight for Our Rights’ Campaign, a Resounding Success!” -SGRN

To commemorate the historic event when more than 400 farmers, urban poor, youths, and consumers uprooted Golden Rice in Pili, Camarines Sur back in 2013, the Stop Golden Rice Network (SGRN) successfully held a week-long campaign with the theme “Defend Our Rice, Fight for Our Rights.”

Joined by various organizations and alliances across Asia, the  “Defend Our Rice, Fight for Our Rights” campaign included various sets of activities starting from its launching on August 2 and concluding on August 8, the International Day of Action Against Golden Rice.

“State-sanctioned lockdowns due to the pandemic truly posed a challenge in launching campaigns, but it did not deter our farmers from joining,” said Cris Panerio, MASIPAG National Coordinator. “We need to be even more united than before however difficult it is in the time of COVID-19 health pandemic. And it showed through Black Lives Matter that it is possible to get organized in new means by making use of technologies at our disposal,” said Julie Smit, Luxembourg-based executive member of People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), in a webinar as part of the week-long campaign.

Protest from farms

Farmers from MASIPAG Luzon took it to their farms to hang placards against Golden Rice

Different farmer organizations across Asia joined the International Day of Action Against Golden Rice on August 8 culminating in a protest action by hanging GM Free banners on their farms. It was then uploaded through social media platforms to encourage more farmers to do the same.

“It’s a show of force to display our solidarity with our genuine cause to stop golden rice and the further coporatization of our food systems.” said Panerio.

Women farmers from BAYAN Camarines Sur reveal their calls from their farm

Members and partners of the SGRN vow to continue the campaign through continued vigilance against the commercialization of Golden Rice and the corporate agenda to food and agriculture. Active applications for the commercialization of Golden Rice are underway in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Several biosafety regulations are also being relaxed in several countries to accommodate GM crops, and even new plant breeding techniques through gene-editing.

“Consumers Union of Japan strongly supports the annual campaign event to stop Golden Rice. Here in Japan, we are very worried about attempts to use new gene-editing techniques on rice, with research already ongoing. Of course in the future, such genome-altering GM Rice would be unacceptable to farmers and consumers all over the world, if they were used to attempt to produce the same effects as the current GM Golden Rice. We will continue the struggle to educate everyone about these events” said Martin J. Frid of Consumers Union Japan.

Request for Opinion Exchange on Genome-Editing Foods

To:

The Ministry of Health, Labour & Welfare

From:

No! GMO Campaign

Consumers Union of Japan

3 August 2020

 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.

  1. What is the status of consultations on the notification of genome-edited foods?
  2. Are you aware of the status of research and development in Japan and abroad?
  3. What is your understanding of genome-edited crickets?
  4. Do you monitor undelivered distribution in Tokyo?