Tag Archives: Food

CUJ and the No! GMO Campaign: Please Reply to Our Questions Regarding Glyphosate Use in Hokkaido

Request to cease pre-harvest glyphosate use in soybeans and please reply to our new concerns regarding its use (April 14, 2020)

To:

Hokuren Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives
Mr. Kazuyuki Uchida, Chairman of the Board

From:

No! GMO Campaign
Keisuke Amagasa
Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ)
Keisuke Amagasa, Co-Chairman
Kazuki Ono, Co-Chairman

Request to cease use of pre-harvest glyphosate in soybeans and reply to questions regarding its use

In response to our questionnaire dated March 17 2020, you responded on March 27 by e-mail, but you did not answer our questions 1 to 4.

Domestic agriculture is in a deep crisis due to trade agreements such as the TPP, the EU-Japan EPA, and the US-Japan FTA. We believe that the pursuit of safety in order to compete with cheap imported agricultural products is the best way to increase confidence in domestic agriculture and to survive. Many of the JAs under your organization are actively reducing the use of pesticides and pursuing environmentally friendly agriculture. Not only do we want you to produce safe agricultural products, but we also want to support domestic agriculture, which is responsible for Japan’s food self-sufficiency, and we worry about the health of the producers who are spraying pesticides.

Once again, we would like to ask you the following questions, and we would appreciate your sincere responses. Thank you for your time, but we ask that you respond in writing by April 28. The responses will be published on the website of Consumers Union of Japan.

1. What is your view on the fact that the herbicide glyphosate (product name Roundup, etc.) has been assessed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a specialized organization of the WHO, as “probably carcinogenic to humans” and its use has been regulated overseas and there have been a series of lawsuits.

2. You responded that you are complying with the Japanese legislation, but although glyphosate is applied to annual weeds on soybeans under the Pesticide Control Law, it is not applied as a wilting agent on soybeans. If glyphosate is sprayed on soybean plots just before harvest, not only weeds are affected, but soybeans are also affected, so we would like to raise the question about whether it is actually legal or not.

3. We heard that your Federation promoted the method of spraying glyphosate on soybeans just before harvesting to its affiliated JAs. Please stop spraying glyphosate because of these problems and concerns.

4. As a Federation responsible for Hokkaido’s agriculture, which accounts for more than 10% of Japan’s agricultural production, you have a responsibility not only to Hokkaido’s producers, but also to consumers throughout Japan who demand domestic agricultural products. Consumers expect that Hokkaido’s agricultural products are produced in cooler areas and use less pesticides, which makes them a reliable brand. We, the consumers, expect Hokkaido agriculture to reduce pesticides. The issue is not only if they are currently legal or not, but if they are harmful to the ecosystem, producers and consumers. What are your views on the pursuit of environmentally friendly agriculture?

Glyphosate on Soybeans in Hokkaido?

Consumers Union of Japan got this very brief reply from conventional soybean growers in Hokkaido, represented by Hokuren Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives, founded in 1919 in Sapporo, Japan:

Thank you very much for your valuable comments and suggestions.

All of the agricultural products handled by the Federation are produced in compliance with the Pesticide Control Law and are used in an appropriate manner.

Thank you very much for your understanding.

 

This was in response to our request to cease pre-harvest glyphosate use in soybeans as well as an open questionnaire on its use (March 17, 2020)

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From Consumers Union of Japan                        March 17, 2020.

To:

Hokuren Federation of Agricultural Cooperative
Mr. Kazuyuki Uchida, Chairman of the Board

From:

No! GMO Campaign
Keisuke Amagasa
Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ)
Keisuke Amagasa, Co-Chairman
Kazuki Ono, Co-Chairman

Request to stop using pre-harvest glyphosate in soybeans as well as a questionnaire on its use

We are a consumer organization that is committed to food safety. We have taken a variety of initiatives to oppose genetically modified and genome-edited foods. We call for prudence in the use of pesticides associated with GMOs. In particular, in recent years, the toxicity of glyphosate herbicides has become apparent, and as regulations have progressed worldwide, the monitoring of these herbicides has been intensified.

The No! GMO Campaign sent you a questionnaire on October 7, 2019 regarding the application of the harvest herbicide glyphosate on soybeans, and we received an email response on the 29th of the same month. Subsequently, when our campaign conducted a residue survey of glyphosate in soybeans, glyphosate was detected in your Federation’s Hokkaido-grown soybeans.

There is widespread concern among consumers about glyphosate residues. We would like to request that you, as a Federation, instruct your member farmers to stop the use of glyphosate in soybeans before harvest.

We also ask the following questions. We apologize for the inconvenience, but please send us your response in writing by March 31. The responses will be published on the website of CUJ.

1. In your response on October 29 2019, you stated that you “will continue to raise awareness of the proper use of glyphosate in compliance with the contents of the government’s registration”, and you recommend the spraying of glyphosate before harvesting soybeans.

2, In the wake of the results in 2015 showing a direct causal link between glyphosate and cancer by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there has been a spate of lawsuits by victims in the United States, with agrochemical company Bayer losing one case after another. Are you aware of this fact?

3. Following the lawsuits in the United States, lawsuits were filed by victims in Canada and Australia, and their use has been banned or regulated in many countries and municipalities, including EU countries. Considering such a situation, we do not think that the logic that just because the Japanese government approves of it makes much sense.

4, We, the consumers, have come to believe that domestic non-GMO soybeans are safe because many imported soybeans are genetically modified, and genome-edited soybeans are appearing in the United States. However, with the detection of glyphosate in soybeans grown in Hokkaido, there is a concern that they will no longer be safe because just because they are grown in Japan. Could you provide guidance to stop using glyphosate before harvesting? When, if at all, do you plan to give guidance on termination of the use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest herbicide? If you do not do it, please tell us why.

WHO: IARC Monograph on Glyphosate

 

 

 

Organic and pesticide-free ingredients for school lunches

In order to protect the health of children, there is a growing movement to incorporate organic and pesticide-free ingredients into school lunches. It is the responsibility of each local government to provide school meals. Therefore, the residents themselves can decide what kind of school lunches they want to have.
However, organic agriculture in Japan accounts for only 0.2%* of the total arable land, so it is not easy to promote the use of organic farming in school lunches, including in terms of price. Starting this campaign, we will discuss what is needed to make organic and pesticide-free school lunches a reality.
*Area certified as organic by JAS

 

Japanese text here

Almost Half a Million Signatures Supporting Our Gene-Editing Petition

 

Dear Everyone,                                                                                       Date: 14 February 2020

In 2019 Consumers Union of Japan started a petition campaign and collected signatures demanding regulation of all gene-edited foods. Here are the results of the initial stage of the campaign which we have now ended.

From May 2019 to November we collected no less than 447,725 signatures in support of the petition. We did not reach our target of 1 million signatures, but we feel strongly that almost half a million signatures in such a short time is a great success, especially since almost no one in Japan seems to have heard of gene-editing or genome editing.

We organized an event at the Japanese Parliament Building on 30 January 2020 and had the opportunity to hand over the signatures to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of the Environment and the Consumer Agency. We made sure that everyone’s personal data was protected.

From abroad, we collected signatures from Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Brazil and Taiwan, in addition to 13 organizations and 10 researchers and university professors. We are very grateful for everyone’s cooperation and support.

However, in spite of almost 450,000 signatures being presented to them at the event, the  Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare continued to argue that gene-editing is not genetic modification and thus does not need regulation or safety assessment, ignoring its effects on the natural environment.

In the same way, the Consumer Agency is ignoring the call for mandatory labelling of gene-edited foods, arguing that they are indistinguishable from mutations that may happen in the natural world.

Many consumers, however, are deeply unhappy with this state of affairs. We are saying, “We do not want to eat food which is the result of gene-editing and genetically modified organisms which have been created by the use of such technologies.” And we are demanding both safety assessment and mandatory labelling of such foods.

It is believed that gene-edited food was allowed to enter Japan by October 2019, but so far, they do not seem to go on the market. We cannot be entirely sure about this since there has been no safety assessment and no mandatory labelling.

Our movement is strong and we will continue to demand regulation of gene-edited food and mandatory labelling.

We also appreciate your continued support.

—————————————–

Michiyo Koketsu, Secretary General, CUJ

Martin J Frid, International Committee, CUJ

Consumers Union of Japan

Website: http://www.nishoren.org/en/

Address: Nishi Waseda 1-9-19-207 Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo, Japan

 

GMO Warnings by Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini in Tokyo

Consumers Union of Japan and the No! GMO Campaign invited Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini to speak about his landmark study that showed how Roundup causes cancer in rats. He warned about genetically modified foods, that are engineered to tolerate Roundup, especially GM soy and GM corn. Séralini is professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen, France, and president of the scientific board of CRIIGEN (Committee of Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering). The research conducted by Séralini’s team has serious implications for public health and the environment and should be addressed rationally and on scientific grounds.

Gilles-Eric Séralini has run the research group that has published the most on GMOs and pesticides toxicities in the world. Since he has discovered practices of the big companies to hide this, he was the most cited in the Monsanto Papers and he has won seven court affairs against the biotech lobbies. With his co-author of three recent books, the organic French Chef Jérôme Douzelet, he worked on how to recognize the taste of these pollutants, especially in wines, and methods of detoxication for everybody. The news and views on these topics will be detailed for the general public in a very original manner.

Everyone is welcome to learn more about the risks associated with genetically modified food.

Date: October 31, 2019

Time: 12:30-16:30

Place: Tokyo Women’s Plaza, Shibuya, Tokyo