Will genome-edited food be labelled in Japan? Consumers Union of Japan, No! GMO Campaign and other groups are lobbying hard for our right to choose what we eat. It also applies to farmers, who want to decide what they farm – and what not to farm. It especially applies to organic farmers, who have spearheaded the movement to more regenerative and natural ways to grow our food, while thinking about the future. Our colleagues over at the Citizens Biotechnology Information Center, CBIC, note:
18 September, 2021 Another Citizens’ Food Summit:
The “Green Food System Strategy” proposed by MAFF is not that “Green”
Another Citizens’ Food Summit
“The “Green Food System Strategy” proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is filled with ambitious goals, such as increasing the area of organic farming to 25% of all farmland by 2050 and reducing the use of chemical pesticides by 30%. It is said to have been formulated in preparation for the UN Food System Summit to be held in September this year, but many NGOs have criticized the summit as being dominated by profit-oriented multinational corporations.
We are organizing another Citizens’ Food Summit in response to the UN Food System Summit. We will learn about the current situation of corporate domination of food on a global scale, find out what the true aim of Japan’s “Green Food System Strategy” is, and think about the agriculture and food we want.
Date and Time: Saturday, 18 September, 2021, 13:30 – 16:30
Venue: Bunkyo Silver Center, Silver Hall (Bunkyo Civic Center 4F)
Online participation is also possible.
13:30-13:40 Opening remarks
13：40-13：50 Issue: “Why Green Food System Strategy is not Green” by Mr. Toshiyuki Saito (National Federation of Farmers Movement)
13：50-14：00 Issue: “The UN Food System Summit that gives priority to large corporations”, Ms. Setsuko Yasuda (Food Policy Center Vision 21)
14：00-14：10 Issue: “Slow Food International Movement / Food System Strategy from the Viewpoint of an Organic Farmer” Ms. Megumi Watanabe (Japan Slow Food Association, Organic Farmer)
14:10-14:20 Issue: “Breaking away from chemical pesticides with RNA pesticides?” Keisuke Amagasa
14：20-14：40 Animation “Big Brother is Coming – The Invisible Threat to Our Food” Screening and commentary
14：50-16：15 Panel discussion “We are the main actors! The Future of Food Created by Consumers and Farmers
16：15-16：30 Message Board Campaign and the Future
Toshiyuki Saito was born in Chiba Prefecture in 1949. He became a standing committee member of the National Federation of Farmer’s Movements when it was formed in 1989, and later became its secretary general. He has been practicing organic farming in Chiba Prefecture.
Setsuko Yasuda worked for Consumers Union of Japan, where she was in charge of the anti-nuclear power movement, food safety and food agriculture issues. She established the Food Policy Center Vision 21 in 2000. Her major publications include “Suicide Seeds” (Heibonsha Shinsho), co-authored “TPP and Japan’s Issues” (Noubunkyo Booklet), and “Food is Degrading Japan: Seeds for Life and Safe Food for the Next Generation” (Eats Food News).
Megumi Watanabe is a graduate of the Faculty of Education at Waseda University. In 2015, she moved to Italy and received a master’s degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences, a university founded by the Slow Food Association. After returning to Japan in 2016, she played a central role in the launch of Slow Food Japan and will become the President in April 2019. She is also the wife of an organic farmer and the mother of two children.
Keisuke Amagasa graduated from the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Waseda University. After working as an editor for the magazine “Gijutsu to Ningen” (Technology and Humanity), he became independent in 1993. Currently, he is a representative of the Citizens Biotechnology Information Office, a representative of the No! GMO Campaign, and advisor to Consumers Union of Japan. His recent publications include “Genome Manipulation and Human Rights” (Jiyu Shuppansha), “Postwar History of Agriculture and Food: From Defeat to Post-Corona” (Midorikaze Shuppan, co-author), and “New Corona Vaccine: Its Real Image and Problems” (Midorikaze Shuppan).
Animation: “Big Brother is Coming: The Invisible Threat to Our Food
In addition to the huge agribusinesses, this video shows how huge IT companies are now entering the world of food, and asset management companies are buying up shares in food-related companies. What in the world is happening in the food industry? We will consider the true nature of the digitalization that is unknowingly shaking our food industry from the perspective of the food world. Presented for the first time in Japan.
(Original title: Big Brother is Coming to the Farm: the digital takeover of food)
Organized by: Consumers Union of Japan
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.
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/
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.