Setsuko Yasuda (No! GMO Campaign)
November 16, 1999
An open letter to Australian and New Zealand Farmers and Agribusinesses
We,the undersigned consumer groups in Japan, sincerely request that the farmers and agriculture industries of Australia and New Zealand plant and segregate adequate quantities of non-genetically engineered (GMO) cotton and other crops to meet the needs of your export markets.
While some would have you believe that our opposition to GMOs is a trade barrier, this is untrue. Japanese consumers are seriously concerned about the potential health and environmental hazards of GMOs. We believe that there is solid scientific basis for our concern. We are therefore asking you, both of your governments and your agriculture industries not to plant GMOs and to export only non-GMO products. We, Japanese consumers request that our non-GMO imports contain less than a 0.1% GMO content. If you don't plant GMO at all, you can meet our request very easily.
From our discussions with experts, we understand that it is possible for the storage and processing companies who work with farmers to acquire an independent (third-party) non-GMO certification provided by CERT ID. This type of independently verified segregation control (Identity Preservation) program will help Japanese consumers to maintain our trust in imported Australia and New Zealand agriculture and food products.
It is our understanding that one of the reasons North American farmers are facing deflated prices is the export of crops mixed with GMO products that consumers are opposed to. We sincerely hope that by explaining our non-GMO requirements now, you will choose conventional (non-GMO) seeds and not to grow GM crops in both of your countries.
Consumers Union of Japan: Yoko Tomiyama(Chairperson)
Ms Setsuko Yasuda
She is Director of Consumers Union of Japan since 1990. She is in charge of Safety of Foods and Agriculture problem. In present she is a secretary general of 'No! GMO Campaign' which is the citizen group from 1996. The campaign has about 100 groups such as a consumer organization, a consumers cooperative, an agriculture person group, a religious group and individual members. It publishes "No! GMO Campaign News" consisting of internal and external information of GMO and an appeal of action, an opinion monthly. And it does a meeting, learning society, administration negotiations, publication.
Consumers Union of Japan
JCU had established in 1969. JCU is the private individual, and membership system, consumer organization and independent. JCU has a slogan which is "connect healthy life to a generation of a child and a grandchild!" JCU works on safety of Foods, dioxin, pesticide, nuclear power, electromagnetic wave, medical care, cosmetics, rip-off selling, the taxation system, agricultural administration widely as movement. A bulletin "consumer report" gets high social evaluation and reliability as a tool of citizens movement. It is a quarterly with "Japan Resources" in English.
Subject: Codex NGO Forum in Japan
Please circulate the following information.
The Japanese government will host the Codex Ad-hoc Committee on Bio-engennered Food in March. The Committee will be held in Chiba (right next to Tokyo) from March 14th to March 15th. As a chair of the Committee, the Japanese government aims " to set up international rules that can promote fair trade through rational risk assessment based on scientific evidences". They have announced to invite 100 public observers in a special video room.
Taking this occasion very seriously, Japanese NGOs including consumers, farmers and citizens groups are organizing to hold the "Codex NGO Forum in Chiba" during the meeting. We have just started to organize the NGO Forum. However, the Codex NGO Forum in Japan shall include a couple of public forums, demonstration, panel discussions, press briefings and celebration of food diversity, beside a few gatherings sponsored by specific organizations including a International symposium by NO! GMO Campaign and a Consumers' gathering by Seikatsu Club Consumers Cooperatives.
The venue of the most gathering will be the Overseas Vocational Training Association Hall, less than 10 minutes walk from the Committee's Conference Center in Chiba. The accommodation for NGO participants and press rooms are also booked in the OVTA's Center. The room charges are between US$40 and 60 for a person.
For more information on the Committee from the Japanese government, visit their homepage: http://www.mhw.go.jp/topics/idenshi/index.htmel To apply for the public observer status (interpretation available in English, French and Spanish), e-mail the office of the Ministry of Health and Welfare: email@example.com
For more information on NGO activities and logistic help including accommodation booking, contact Mika Iba or Yoko Takase: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will launch the Japan NGO Committee next week and finalize schedule of the Codex NGO Forum in Chiba next week.
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Last Updated on 3/3/00
By Karen Lutz