Sound and Healthy Future for Our Children

Japan Resources 192

Please click here for our latest English newsletter (pdf): JR 192


From the Editors: The Future of Food in 2024

The First CRISPR Tomatoes Now on the Shelves in Japan

Clinical test of eggs produced by genome-edited chickens selected as AMED research project

Shizuoka Prefectural Assembly Passes Resolution Calling for Genome-edited Food Labeling

Report from UPOV Workshop

Statement: Calling for an Immediate Halt to Armed Action in Israel and Palestine

From the Editors:

The Future of Food in 2024

Consumers Union of Japan and other organizations started the campaign against genetically modified food in 1996, and fought hard for labelling rules as well as local production without GMOs here in Japan.

However, the first wave of genome-edited foods have now reached supermarket shelves in 2024. We are concerned about the safety but also the effects on biological diversity. At the same time, rules for “plant variety protection” under UPOV seem to bring massive benefits for a few corporations, with no concern for farmers or consumers. How about the future?

Stay tuned to our campaigns and join us as we keep up the good work…

– Editors

Testbiotech: “The first CRISPR tomatoes are now on the shelves in Japan”

According to Testbiotech, the Munich, Germany based NGO:

“…there is no doubt the composition of the tomatoes is changed significantly, in particular, the content in gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) is said to be four to six, in some fruits even twenty times higher, compared to conventionally bred varieties. The French authority ANSES as well as experts at the Austrian Environment Agency, point out that only a few genetic changes were necessary to bring about this drastic change in the NGT tomatoes. Nevertheless, they assume it is very unlikely that these tomatoes could be obtained by conventional breeding methods.”

CRISPR tomatoes now on the shelves

Fruits supposedly improves quality of sleep

5 February 2024 / The first CRISPR tomatoes are now on the shelves in Japan. The ‘GABA tomato’ was developed with new genetic engineering techniques (NGTs). This is shown by photo just recently taken in a supermarket in the Tokyo region. According to the information on the packages, the tomatoes will lower blood pressure, relieve mental stress and improve sleep quality. Experts are doubting that the consumption of the fruits goes along with such effects. At the same time, according to the Japanese functional food register, the consumption of the tomatoes is not recommended for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and small children. Tomatoes like this could soon be available in supermarkets in Europe as well, without detailed risk assessment and labelling.

Link: https://www.testbiotech.org/en/news/crispr-tomatoes-now-shelves

GABA tomatoes sold in Tokyo Supermarket, January 2024

Statement: Calling for an Immediate Halt to Armed Action in Israel and Palestine

Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ) has been carrying out grassroots movements under the slogan of “For a healthy life into the future”. The deprivation of precious lives is currently happening in many parts of the world. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, military clashes between Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip have already resulted in thousands of casualties and extensive damage. Israel has also stated that it will invade the Gaza Strip militarily, which is set to cause even more misery.

We urge both sides to immediately reach a ceasefire in order to stop the horrific situation without further loss of life. It is impossible to tolerate any violence that takes human life, whether civilian or military. We also call for the blockade of the Gaza Strip to be lifted, and for the supply of electricity and water, and the delivery of food, medicine and other supplies to be guaranteed, so that people can regain a secure life.

The Constitution of Japan clearly renounces war and military action. It also pledges that “all peoples of the world shall be free from fear and want and shall have the right to live in peace” (Preamble to the Constitution of Japan).

In compliance with the spirit of the Constitution, the Government of Japan should use all diplomatic means at its disposal to urgently launch an appeal for a ceasefire, not only to Israel and Palestine, but to all the countries concerned and the UN. In particular, we strongly urge the Kishida Government, which calls for strengthening the US-Japan alliance, not to follow the US lead and not to go down the path of military expansion.

All people on this planet have the right to “live peacefully and securely”. We see the threats to this as our own, and will continue to speak out and act accordingly.

(Published 25 October 2023, Japanese original here)

CUJ has participated in several peace demonstrations this year, including the large event on 5 November in front of the Japanese Parliament in Tokyo.

CUJ participated in the march to Ginza, Tokyo with our green flag. Some of the banners read: ‘Peace in Gaza!’ and “Stop Genocide” and ‘Free Gaza’
‘Peace for Palestine – 11/5 Emergency Action’ held in Tokyo on 5 November.
Despite it being a Sunday evening, around 1,600 people attended.

Japan Resources 191

Please click here for our latest English newsletter (pdf): JR 191


From the Editors: Victory for Consumers

Appeal Against Food Irradiation

Cases of Food Hygiene Law Violations in Japan due to Food Irradiation (1996-2023)

Commentary: Lack of Public Acceptance for Food Irradiation

In the News: Thousands join climate protest in Tokyo calling for ‘100% renewable energy’

From the Editors:

Victory for Consumers

Consumers Union of Japan and other organizations have for over 50 years fought against food irradiation. This practice went on at one facility in Hokkaido that has finally been closed down.

Organic farmers and many others never allowed their produce to be irradiated with the radioactive isotope Cobalt 60. Many violations have been recorded over the years as imported foods, most recently from China, Taiwan and Vietnam, were found to be irradiated (Please see our updated list below).

We call this a victory for Japanese consumers, and appeal to others around the world to raise their voices as well. Stay tuned to our campaigns and join us as we keep up the good work…

– Editors

Appeal Against Food Irradiation

31 October 2023

Tokyo, Japan

Liaison Committee Against Irradiated Foods

National Meeting for Total Abolition of Irradiated Foods

Appeal Against Food Irradiation:

Global Solidarity in the Campaign to Stop Irradiated Food

In Japan, irradiated potatoes were sold since 1974 to prevent germination. Despite being an A-bombed country, Japan was the first in the world to sell irradiated potatoes. This was promoted by those who support nuclear power as “irradiated food has been approved even by Japan.” However, many consumers had concerns about irradiated potatoes and opposed their sale.

Apart from preventing germination, the Japanese Atomic Energy Commission conducted experiments to permit irradiated foods for other uses, including insecticidal (rice and wheat) and sterilising (sausages and citrus fruits) purposes. However, the experimental data showed risks and the World Health Organization (WHO) requested a follow-up study.

In 1980, the WHO suddenly declared that irradiation up to 10 kGy was acceptable, based on political rather than scientific judgement.

In Japan, we were shocked by a case of illegal irradiation of baby food vegetables, which was revealed in 1978. In the trial that followed, company witnesses argued that the WHO had accepted food irradiation and that it was practically harmless. They argued that the company was innocent. However, the court ruling did not accept the WHO’s 10 kGy safety limit and found those involved guilty.

The court noted that “the WHO report lists items that require scientific consideration for irradiation up to 10 kGy, but the required items have not been considered and scientists have pointed out that there are problems” (First trial, 1984; second trial, 1985). This ruling made Japanese consumers aware that the WHO was driven by the political considerations of food irradiation proponents.

The Japanese Government was the only country in the world to conduct toxicity tests on seven irradiated foodstuffs from 1967. The following is a list of the dangers found in the tests on potatoes and onions.

Data from animal experiments showing the dangers of irradiated foods:

  • Animals were fed irradiated potatoes, ovary weight loss (600 Gy), weight loss (300 Gy), increased mortality and abnormalities in the thyroid gland and pituitary gland were observed. The reproductive organs and other vital organs were also found to be affected.
  • Animals were fed irradiated onions (300 Gy), and a follow-up study was conducted after bone abnormalities called rib cartilage fusion and weight loss of the ovaries and testicles were confirmed in the third generation. The irradiation dose was halved (150 Gy) and the amount mixed in the feed was also halved to 2%, but the second generation showed twice as many abnormalities in the cervical ribs, which are ribs attached to the neck bones (cervical vertebrae).

Despite opposition from consumers in Japan, the Shihoro Agricultural Co-operative in Hokkaido continued its unprofitable business of irradiated potatoes, saying that the market must be enlarged so that the enormous government funds spent on research and development were not wasted. The irradiated potatoes of the Shihoro Agricultural Co-operative were also summarised as follows (1989): ”There was a big difference between the laboratory data and the irradiation of potatoes harvested in the actual field.”

1. Irradiation of damaged potatoes at harvest accelerated rotting

2. Irradiation of immature potatoes caused internal blackening

3. Immediately after irradiation, the rate of reducing sugars increased rapidly and crisps turned brown. It took about three months to reduce this rate of reducing sugar.

4. Long-term storage required temperature, humidity and ventilation control even after irradiation.

5. Storage at room temperature caused browning, so storage below 5°C was necessary.


As this shows, actual irradiation was not as effective as expected, and in reality nearly half of the irradiated products had no commercial value and were disposed of.

Fifty years passed without the Shihoro Agricultural Co-operative being able to resolve these major discrepancies. Finally, the Shihoro Agricultural Co-operative decided to stop producing irradiated potatoes, and in 2023 the irradiation facilities were dismantled. Consequently, irradiated potatoes will no longer be produced and sold in Japan from 2023.

We want to inform consumers around the world about this fact and share with them the problems with spices and beef that are now irradiated at similar facilities around the world. We also call on those countries that still irradiate their foodstuffs to stop doing so.

Please continue to campaign against food irradiation.