Please click here for our latest English newsletter: JR 182
Special focus on Food Systems
From the Editors: Much Ado about Food Systems
Comments on Japan’s Green Food System Strategy, from Consumers Union of Japan, and from the No! GMO Campaign – and learn more about why we find the government’s proposals preposterous and outrageous, and out of touch with reality…
Background Notes on Japan’s Green Food System Strategy
Global People’s Summit on Food Systems — Against the UN Food System Summit
In the News: Fragrance Pollution
Campaign to Reduce the Use of Plastics
From the Editors:
Much Ado about Food Systems
Welcome to issue No. 182 of Consumers Union of Japan’s English newsletter. This time, the special theme is to share insights about the current debate about food systems, and our response to the Japanese government. We will hold a seminar on 18 September about the controversial FAO Food System Summit. What is behind the focus on “food systems” rather than food safety or the right to food, and what does it all mean for consumers?
We hope you will stay updated with CUJ’s activities, including campaigns against artificial fragrances and plastic waste, here on our English website and on CUJ’s new English Twitter account.
The following is an article on the current status of the problem of fragrance pollution in Japan written by Ms. Reiko Mizuno, Board Member of the NPO Japan Endoctrine-disruptor Preventive Action.
Quote: As cosmetics and fabric softeners infused with artificial fragrances proliferate, there are increasing complaints of headaches and nausea caused by the chemical substances used to create the scents. What are the risks of this new kind of air pollution?
The Japanese obsession with cleanliness is contributing to a booming market. The outcome of all of this has been a new kind of scent pollution caused by the mixture of toxic substances used to create the popular scents. And the situation is being aggravated by the microcapsules used in fabric softeners and other types of scented cleaners. The “bursts of fragrance,” “long-lasting scents,” and “nano-air-freshening” capabilities touted by manufacturers are made possible by a technology that locks fragrances and deodorants in tiny capsules made of urethane and melamine resins.
Consumers Union of Japan has formed a “Liaison Committee to Eliminate Fragrance Pollution” with six other organizations, including Japan Endoctrine-disruptor Preventive Action, to work towards the eradication of fragrance pollution, or kougai (香害). It is estimated that there are several millions of people who are suffering from health problems caused by products such as scented fabric softeners, scented detergents, perfumes and other artificial fragrances. Some become so ill to the extend that are unable to go to school or work. Some have even been forced to evacuate deep into the mountains or an environment that is free from fragrance pollution. Since 2017, we have been lobbying the central government, local governments, manufacturers and other companies in an effort to eradicate fragrance pollution. Are you concerned about fragrance pollution? Please get in touch with Consumers Union of Japan.
Consumers Union of Japan invites you to our annual symposium:
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
In September of this year (2021), the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will convene the United Nations Food System Summit. In this international event with the goal of building a “healthier, more sustainable and equitable food system,” and in 2021 (in the midst of the United Nations Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028) the participation and input of people engaged in family farming and small-scale agriculture, who account for more than 80% of the world’s food production, should be a priority.
However, when concrete discussions began in 2020, the issues of human rights and land grabbing that small-scale farmer groups have been advocating were not at the center of the agenda, and corporations and related organizations that promote land concentration, monopolization of agricultural supply chains. Also the industrialization of food, including biotechnology, have had a significant influence on decision-making. In response to this, many civil society organizations have begun to take action and sent a joint letter demanding a review of the summit’s preparatory process, transparency in decision-making, and dialogue to achieve this, but no fundamental review has taken place. In March, a group of small-scale farmers from the Global South (Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa) announced their boycott of the summit and launched a counter-summit, the Global People’s Summit on Food Systems (GPS).
The following statement is the press release issued along with the declaration of this counter-summit. What is it that the world’s small-scale farmers, who hold the key to the future of agriculture, and the many civil society organizations that share their beliefs, want to address by boycotting the UN event?
Consumers Union of Japan is a member of the Stop Golden Rice Network (SGRN), one of the organizers of the Global People’s Summit on Food Systems.
In Japanese here
Facebook in English here
Statement from Hungry4Change here
Continue reading Global People’s Summit on Food Systems — Against the UN Food System Summit
Consumers Union of Japan is stepping up the campaign against plastic waste. We are asking major convenience stores and coffee shop chains what they are doing in Japan, as their stores in other countries appear to be moving faster to reduce the use of plastic containers and cups.
Questionnaire on Reusable Container Initiatives
To: Seven & I Holding, FamilyMart, Lawson, Starbucks Japan, Doutor Coffee
27 May 2021
According to media reports, reusable container initiatives are progressing overseas. For example, 7-Eleven in Taiwan has announced a plan to eliminate the use of all disposable plastics by 2050, and has introduced a reusable cup system in four of its stores. In addition, FamilyMart in Taiwan has also started selling lunch boxes in reusable containers. Furthermore, Starbucks in South Korea has announced that it will eliminate disposable cups by 2025. Some McDonald’s stores in London, UK have introduced reusable takeout cups that can be returned to other McDonald’s stores after the drink is finished.
We hope that Japanese companies will also promote reuse in order to reduce the use of single-use plastics. Therefore, we would like to ask you about your company’s efforts to reuse containers.
1) Please let us know the material of each of the beverage and food (lunch box, etc.) containers that you provide for both in-store and take-out.
2) Do you have any plans to change your take-out containers from one-way containers to reusable containers?
3) If the plastic recycling promotion bill currently being discussed in the Japanese Parliament is enacted, cutlery and straws may be legislated (reduced use) next year. Examples of legislation methods include charging a fee, point card promotion schemes, and switching to alternative materials. It has been shown that point card promotion schemes does not reduce the amount of plastic bags used. Also, switching to alternative materials will not reduce the amount of waste. We believe that charging a fee is the most effective way to reduce the amount of waste. Please let us know what your policy is.