Japan Resources

Rice growers: strictly implement and enforce the March 2007 moratorium on GM field trials in California

Posted on August 26, 2008. Filed under: Japan Resources |

Consumers Union of Japan and No! GMO Campaign have written to Californian rice growers, asking them to strictly implement and enforce the March 2007 moratorium on GM field trials in California. 

We are still concerned about the undetermined events that led to the contamination of long grain rice in the Southern States and skeptical about the control of genetically modified crops. The events demonstrate that even experimental plots of small sizes could cause a large scale of contamination. The fact that a California mill was contaminated by GM Liberty Link rice is of great concern to us.

We have learned that field trials of genetically modified rice in California have taken place even after the adoption of the rice field trial moratorium resolution. We are aware that genetically modified rice varieties have been experimented with for over a decade in California near rice farms and research facilities. We are very concerned about the ongoing risk of contamination of short and medium grain rice in California that this presents.

On August 22, 2008, we received a reply from the California Rice Commission, stating that they are “very aware of the concerns of Japanese consumers regarding this issue.” They also explain that they “continue to take all available steps to ensure that an event like the one that occurred in the Southern United States does not happen in California.” They claim to be testing all rice for GM Liberty Link contamination, which we appreciate.

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Stop aerial spraying of banana plantations!

Posted on August 26, 2008. Filed under: Japan Resources |


Consumers Union of Japan supports the campaign against aerial spraying (using airplanes) on bananas in the Philippines. CUJ signed the online petition which can be found here.

In the Philippines, only export Cavendish banana plantations use aerial spraying to apply pesticides. Communities within and around these plantations complain of the health effects they suffer, contamination of water sources and destruction of their livelihoods.

After enduring this for years, affected residents and civil society groups waged an intensive campaign to stop the aerial spraying practice of banana plantations.

For more information, please visit the website http://www.dirtybananas.org/

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Hair analysis as a possible way to investigate heavy metal pollution

Posted on August 26, 2008. Filed under: Japan Resources |

FSCW General Meeting Special Lecture: “Hair analysis as a possible way to investigate heavy metal pollution – interim report” by Dr. Hiroshi Yasuda, Director of La Belle Vie Preventive Medicine Laboratory

Summary of Lecture by Hiroshi Yasuda
April 26, 2008
Tokyo, Japan

We have conducted investigations to determine the degree of heavy metal pollution in hair from parents and children in Japan. This kind of study is rarely done, so we think the data is very valuable. Among the heavy metals that are needed by the body, intake of minerals through food is necessary to a certain degree. However, there are substances that do more harm, such as mercury, lead and cadmium. In Japan, these are known for the specific diseases they caused in the past, such as Minamata disease (mercury), lead poisoning, and the Itai-itai disease (cadmium). Also, arsenic in milk and water wells have caused health problems. Aluminum is known to cause dialysis encephalopathy syndrome, while copper has caused the Wilson disease. Even though they are all necessary substances, they can cause severe symptoms and disease if the intake is high.

In this study, we looked at the concentrations of harmful heavy metals in hair samples from 34 women (control group), 78 mothers, 49 children (female) and 31 children (boys). We investigated the levels, and generally we found that they were higher in the children than in their mothers.

We found that for both mercury and arsenic there was a positive correlation between levels found in mother and child. For cadmium, lead, and aluminum, there were significantly higher values in the children than in the mothers. Some among the children had 10 times higher levels compared to their mothers.

More details: Food Safety Citizen’s Watch Issue # 16

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Please continue raising your dairy cattle with non-GMO feed!

Posted on August 19, 2008. Filed under: Japan Resources |

080401-non-gmo-feed-letter (pdf)

The Non! GMO Campaign has sent a letter to Australian food producers regarding GM-free dairy products:

Japan currently imports farm products, beef and other meat products, dairy products, natural cheese, and wheat from the following top four countries: The United States, China, EU and Australia. Due to the outbreak of BSE in North America, Japan has increased its imports of beef from Australia and New Zealand, as we are aware of the fact that safe and delicious beef as well as dairy products are produced by grass feeding. In particular, we understand that since Australia has sufficient pasture land, you are raising cows with grass instead of feeding large amounts of grain.

However, we are very concerned that several states in your country lifted their moratoria against farming GM crops. We agree with the Australian NGO “Mothers against Genetic Engineering”, who say: “We want our children to drink milk from cows that are not fed with GM feed!”

Since Japan imports most of its feed from North America, GM feed is generally used for domestic dairy cows. Under such circumstances, we strongly support all dairy farmers here and abroad who are raising cows with non-GM feed. Japanese consumers actively choose dairy products from such dairy farmers. Japan imports dairy products including natural cheese from Australia, and we also import natural cheese from EU countries. If you allow GM feed for raising cows in Australia, Japanese consumers may choose European dairy products that are produced with milk from cows and goats raised locally with non-GM feed.

Australian food producers and Japan’s consumers should cooperate to secure GM-free dairy products.

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G8 Action Network: Declaration of Participants in the International Solidarity Days

Posted on August 5, 2008. Filed under: Japan Resources |

Make the Hokkaido Summit the Last Summit of the G8!–Declaration of Participants in the International Solidarity Days of the G8

The G8 Summit opened in Hokkaido in July, 2008 with the usual rhetoric of concern about conditions in Africa. These are statements that few people in Africa and the rest of the world take seriously, given how far the G8 governments are from raising the $20 billion they pledged for Africa at the Gleneagles Summit in 2005.

Indeed, if there is anything that distinguishes this particular G8 summit, it is its low credibility. In George Bush, Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Yasuo Fukuda, we have a group of discredited leaders who are very unpopular with their own electorates. Moreover, in addition to their broken promises on Africa, the G8 have also failed miserably to deliver on their other pledges, notably, canceling the debt of the poor countries, raising aid levels to 0.7 per cent of the GDP of the G8 countries, promoting development through trade, and tackling climate change.

As the G8 meet, the world is reeling from four crises that are unfolding simultaneously: the skyrocketing price of oil, the massive rise in the price of food, the financial crisis that is bringing the global economy to its knees, and the acceleration of global warming. To expect the G8 to come up with solutions to these crises is to expect the impossible since these are the inevitable consequences of the G8’s promotion of a project of globalization that has mainly benefited and enriched their corporate elites.

Read the entire declaration on the G8 Action Network website.

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Japan Resources No 144

Posted on July 22, 2008. Filed under: Japan Resources |

jr-144 (pdf) Japan Resources No 144

On a hot day in July we finished compiling the latest issue of Japan Resources. Many articles about our consumer activities, the large peace conference to support Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution, the trip to the Planet Diversity Conference in Germany and the campaign to keep Australia GMO-free. – Editors

CONTENTS:

About Food Mileage
Book Review: Another Japan is Possible
Global Article 9 Declaration to Abolish War
Evaluate the Food Safety Commission before Establishing a Consumer Agency
Yes to Non-GMO Feed
No to GMO Sugar Beet Crops
Report from the Planet Diversity Conference in Bonn, Germany
Tokyo Actions Against the G8 Meeting

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Tokyo Actions against the G8 summit

Posted on June 25, 2008. Filed under: Japan Resources |

The G8 summit will be held in Hokkaido, Japan. On July 7-9, head of states from just eight of the world’s countries will gather together at Lake Toya. There they will make decisions on the future in the world, protected by the police and military. While the Japanese government welcomes the summit, many people who are dissatisfied with the decisions plan various actions against the summit.

Opposing the summit, NGOs are organizing actions against the summit. This event will take place in Tokyo on June 28-29, 2008.

G8 Action Network (English)

We welcome the opportunity to collaborate in actions with people who tackle with issues of poverty, labor, discrimination, war, violence, gender inequality, social exclusion, environmental destruction, abuse of human rights, food safety, agriculture, minority, and public order. Our aim is to spread our dissent to as many as possible people immediately before the G8 summit.

Among the speakers is Yasuaki Yamaura from CUJ, who will discuss the opposition against WTO and Free Trade Agreements, food safety and food security, in light of the current global food crisis.

More information with a video here (in Japanese).

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Report from the Planet Diversity Conference in Bonn, Germany

Posted on June 17, 2008. Filed under: Japan Resources |

Consumers Union of Japan participated together with other Japanese NGOs at the large Planet Diversity conference in Bonn, Germany on May 12-16, 2008. It was a global congress on the future of food and agriculture, with a demonstration to celebrate biodiversity.

At the rally, anti-GMO activists including Percy Schmeiser and Vandana Shiva spoke to the 6,000 people who gathered from all over Germany and other countries for the event. At the workshops, participants discussed plant and livestock diversity, building knowledge around biodiversity, and key issues of the official biosafety negotiations held later in May.

Koketsu Michiyo from CUJ participated in the workshop on health impacts of GMOs organised by the Federation of Ecological Physicists, including Dr. Arpad Pushtai, who has a vast experience with GMO and has visited Japan. “We don’t only need networks between people, but between people and plants, and people and planet earth,” notes Koketsu-san from CUJ, who says she bebame aware of this during the six days in Bonn, Germany.

Read the full report here:

080617-cuj-planet-diversity-report (pdf)

Read more on the Planet Diversity website:
http://www.planet-diversity.org/home.html

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Evaluate the Food Safety Commission!

Posted on June 10, 2008. Filed under: Japan Resources |

Japan does not have any equivalent to the US Food and Drug Administration, and there is no Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs like in the European Union. Yet, recent events have shown that food safety is a huge concern among consumers in Japan.

The independent watchdog, Food Safety Citizens’ Watch meets regularly and discusses important topics. As Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda announced that the Government would establish a consumer agency, the FSCW wants to point out that there has been no proper evaluation of the roles played by Japan’s Food Safety Commission and the Fundamental law for food safety in protecting the citizens’ health and guaranteeing the safety of our food. Before creating a new consumer administrative body, FSCW believes it is necessary to impartiality evaluate the current achievements, pointing out both the positive and negative aspects.

In a special resolution, FSCW therefore requests that the present Food Safety Commission should be thoroughly evaluated before a new Consumer Agency is established.

Special Resolution:
Evaluate the Food Safety Commission before Establishing a Consumer Agency

At a meeting with the government panel on consumer issues on April 23, 2008, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda announced that the Government would establish a consumer agency the next fiscal year. This new body will reportedly have authority over all consumer-related issues including food safety, and will operate as a “control tower” over consumer protection with competence for planning, legal execution and advising. However, the Government decided that the relevant members from existing consumer-related government bodies would be unified within the consumer agency’s structure, wanting to deflect criticism for making the government bigger.

In this context, we want to point out that there has been no proper evaluation of the roles played by the Food Safety Commission and the Fundamental law for food safety in protecting the citizens’ health and guaranteeing the safety of our food. Before creating a new consumer administrative body, we believe it is necessary to impartiality evaluate the current achievements, pointing out both the positive and negative aspects.

We therefore request that the present Food Safety Commission should be thoroughly evaluated before a new Consumer Agency is established.

– Adopted by the participants at the sixth annual general meeting of Food Safety Citizens’ Watch on April 26, 2008

Food Safety Citizens’ Watch was established in April 2003 as a network of experts to monitor developments and make proposals to the government regarding food safety issues from the citizen’s point of view.

English Newsletter Website: Food Safety Citizens’ Watch

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Global Article 9 Declaration to Abolish War

Posted on June 6, 2008. Filed under: Japan Resources |

Ms. Yoko Tomiyama, CUJ’s veteran activist and chairperson, participated in the huge Global Article 9 conference at Makuhari, Chiba on May 4-6, 2008.

A Declaration (pdf) was adopted by participants of the Global Article 9 Conference to Abolish War, endorsed by Nobel Peace Laureates Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, and by the Nobel Women’s Peace Initiative. To read all the outcome documents of the Conference, click here.

Global Article 9 Conference Statement (pdf) towards the Non-Proliferation Treaty PrepCom meeting in Geneva, Switzerland (April 28 – May 9, 2008)

Global Article 9 Conference Statement to the G8 Summit (pdf) taking place in July 2008 in Hokkaido, Japan under Japanese presidency

This three-day event attracted over 33,000 participants nationwide: over 22,000 in Tokyo, 8,000 in Osaka, 2,000 in Hiroshima and 1,000 in Sendai. Close to 200 international guest speakers and participants came from 40 different countries and regions to represent all continents at the conference.

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