More on Japan's Rejection of Monsanto's GE Rice

Press Information - No! GMO Campaign

Japan December 12, 2002

"Citizens' power to end the GM rice in Japan!"

Today, Dec. 12, 2002, No! GMO Campaign visited Monsanto Japan. This is surely an achievement of all our efforts to halt the research and development of a Roundup herbicide tolerant GM rice "Matsuribare", which Aichi-ken Agricultural Research Centre conducted as a project in collaboration with Monsanto. On 5 Dec. 2002, at its December Congress in Aichi Prefecture, it became clear that Aichi and Monsanto's R&D collaboration project will be ended.

In order to make sure about this matter, No! GMO Campaign visited Monsanto Japan today, Dec. 12, to demand Monsanto not to apply for the commercialisation of the GM rice Matsuribare. Since Monsanto Co. and Monsanto Japan sold its agri-chemical business in Japan to Nissan Chemical Co. on May 30, 2002, its operation domestically became much smaller, and the new office was on top of the building with a pachinko parlour (a Japanese game-centre), and felt much less impressive than the old one.

We met Monsanto's new PR division, public affairs' Kenji Kamihaba and Bio Crop Information's Tomomi Sakamoto. Monsanto's Seiichiro Yamane, who we used to meet, did not show up. We suppose he is now only serving as the President of the company. First of all, Keisuke Amagasa from No! GMO Campaign read up the Campaign's appeal paper (1), and started the question and answer session. Monsanto: We have been informed about Aichi's intent on Matsuribare by Aichi Prefecture in advance. Our agreement will be end by the end of March, 2003, so the matter is being discussed in the company. We have to follow the Aichi's decision regarding the commercialisation, because the Matsuribare is owned by Aichi Prefecture, not by Monsanto.

There were some suspicion that the Matsuribare will be soon on the market, however in reality, the genetic engineering is a very difficult technology, and it will take a few more years to develop a product. Another Monsanto's GM rice strain, M202, which is being cultivated in Tsukuba's isolated field as a field trial, is only conducted as a protocol of a R&D project, so Monsanto has not yet decided whether it will continue the research or not. Monsanto has been researching the public acceptance of GM rice, and found out that many Japanese feel unease and insecure about GM rice, and many have expressed that they do not want genetic engineering for rice. Why Japanese are feeling disgusted by GM rice, Monsanto has not yet figured out, according to Monsanto.

Monsanto said clearly to No! GMO Campaign that it will continue the R&D using genetic engineering technology, although it might not succeed to use the technology in rice. Monsanto admitted that it is not yet the time to apply for any patent, so it is not planning to do so, until a product is developed for commercialisation. Monsanto did not hide its lack of confidence regarding GM rice. Considering Bio Crops Meeting (2) organized by Katsutoshi Nagatomo, Monsanto said it has pondered over to provide its RoundUp Ready Soybeans seeds and herbicide RoundUp to Nagamoto's group for their "field testing" purpose. The RR soy has gone through the safety assessment by the Japanese government.

However, Monsanto has had many internal consultations for its decision. Monsanto observed the seeding and made sure to control the seeds with a record keeping. The seeds spill must not happen. Monsanto gets the Bio Crops Meeting's report, and making sure that the group is keeping the convention and rules restricted by Monsanto. Monsanto joined the Bio Crops Meeting's orientation day in August, together with STAFF (3), and met many citizens there. Many participants expressed their impression of the difficulty to farm GM in reality. Soybean is a self-pollinating crop, so the possibility of cross pollination is not a problem, but if there is another soybean field in the surrounding area, Monsanto is strictly advising the group not to cultivate the RR soy, or keep the distance from other cultivation areas.

No! GMO Campaign also held a news conference at the MAFF's press room Today. No! GMO Campaign Keisuke Amagasa Masako Koga (Translated by Akiko Frid) E-mail: Tel: 03-5794-6861 (81)-3-5794-6861 Fax: 03-3715-9378 (81)-3-3715-9378 Address: Asaga Bldg. 2F, 1-10-16 Meguro Hon-cho, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-0002 Japan Notes:

(1) No! GMO Campaign's Appeal to halt the R&D of GM rice to Monsanto Japan

* We demand a total end of R&D on GM rice in Japan

* We demand a total end of R&D on GM rice for Japanese market

* We demand a total restriction of selling GM rice seeds and GM rice seedling in Japan

* We demand a total restriction of exporting GM rice into Japan from USA and other countries

(2) Bio Crops Meeting - A volunteer farmers group called the "Bio Crops Meeting" started its operation to study GM crops five years ago, and in 2001 its members have started the field trial of Roundup Ready soybean (40-3-2) developed by Monsanto that has gone through the process of safety assessment by the MHLW, on their own fields. In 2002, they have cultivated RR soybeans in 6 farming lands (Hokkaido, Fukui, Tottori, Shiga and 2 places in Ibaraki prefectures), totally 0,7 hectare. (3) Institute of the Society for Techno-innovation of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (STAFF)


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