Report on Anti-GE Activism in Japan
Date: Mon, 07 Jun 1999 15:32:06 +0000
From: Mae-wan Ho <M.W.Ho@open.ac.uk>

News from Japan: Anti-GE Activism

Resistance to (Genetically Modified Organisms) GMO is growing rapidly in
Japan. A record 1,700,000 Japanese citizens presented a comprehensive list
of demands to their Government on 31 May, 1999, including compulsory
labelling, moratorium on domestic production of GM crops, suspension of
research on GM rice and cloned cattle and promotion of organic farming.

This marked the beginning of a week-long global days of action against GMOs
involving lectures, press conferences and TV interviews in Tokyo, Chiba and
Fukuoka.

The petition was presented simultaneously to the Minister of Agriculture,
Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and Minister of Health and Welfare by a
coalition of citizen organisations headed by the Consumer Association of
Japan after an invited lecture by UK Scientist, Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, who arrived
that morning from Malaysia. The full text is reproduced below, based on the
translation by Mr. Tony Boys.

Demand: 31 May, 1999

To: Minster of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) Shoichi Nakagawa
Demand Concerning Genetically Engineered Foods (GE foods)

Although GE foods have been promoted on the basis that there is no evidence
of danger, there are now several concrete examples of impacts on health and
the environment which give cause for concern. Because of the anxiety of
consumers in Europe, major supermarkets and food giants have switched to
no-GE ingredients.

This has drastically reduced demand for American-grown GE crops, which has
lost international competitiveness. In contrast, the world's largest
importer of food, Japan, still has not introduced labelling, thus denying
the consumer's right to choose. Because of the collapse of the European
market, it is inevitable that GE crops will be increasingly directed towards
Japan. With no labelling on GE products, we are forced into consuming them,
at a time when GE crops are coming under review in Europe. To make matters
worse, MAFF itself is leading the development of commercial GE rice
varieties. We are therefore exposed to a double risk, that of health impacts
and impacts on the environment. As if that were not enough, we now find that
the meat of experimentally cloned cattle is being marketed by MAFF, who is
forcing us to eat it. This has resulted in a strong feeling of distrust
towards MAFF.

Without sufficient investigation into the long-term impacts on health and
the environment, any new technology which is rashly applied may result in
irreversible damage. Is it not the case that only the precautionary
principle can reduce social costs to the minimum?
With the following demands for taking wise measures on your part, we submit
to you this petition containing 1 700 000 signatures.

1. Compulsory labelling of all GE foods immediately (see Opinion 1078, Jan
14, from local government councils to MAFF demanding labelling).
2. A Moratorium on domestic production of GE crops.
3. Suspension of reserach on the application of GE to rice and cloned cattle
such as the "21st Century Green Frontier Research" projects.
4. Recall of cloned cattle beef, and measures to ban its marketing.
5. Promotion of organic farming.

The collapse of safety - GE foods '99, May 31 World Action Day Participants.

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