GENET archive


2-Plants: Citizens protest stopped development of GE rice in Iwate(Japan)

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  "Citizens succeed in stopping Iwate prefecture's GM rice!"
SOURCE: NO! GMO Campaign, Japan, Press Release
DATE:   Dec 1, 2003

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Declaration of Victory
"Citizens succeed in stopping Iwate prefecture's GM rice!"

On November 28, more than 450 people from all over Japan gathered in
Morioka city, Iwate, to participate in a gathering "No to GMO National
Assembly in Iwate".

At the Assembly more than 407,000 signatures were collated of people from
all over Japan who had expressed support for a petition demanding a stop
to the GM rice(*) research taking place in Iwate.

All the participants then set off down the street in the cold to take the
petition to the Iwate prefectural government. It was taken into the
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department.

After receiving the 407,212 signatures from 20 representatives from the
Assembly, Mr. Masakatsu Sasaki, the Director of the Agriculture
Department, publicly stated that Iwate has decided to abandon its GM rice
research. Iwate conducted an outdoor GM rice experiment this year, which
had been due to continue for a further year.

The Director also stated that Iwate will not conduct any further outdoor
experiments involving GM rice or any other GM crops.

This is yet another victory for the citizens of Japan and follows on from
last year's success in halting Monsanto's GM rice in Aichi prefecture.

As a result of that successful citizens' campaign to stop the Monsanto-
Aichi GM rice, Japanese private sector corporations completely abandoned
GM rice R&D. However the research facility of the former Ministry of
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) - now an independent
administrative corporation - together with the Iwate Biotechnology
Research Centre, maintained their strong commitment to develop GM rice.
Despite which, people power has now succeeded in halting this GM rice
research programme in Iwate.

MAFF is currently discussing how to tighten the regulation of outdoor
experimental releases of GM crops at research centres, in order to accord
with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which will enter into force in
Japan from 19 February 2004. Iwate's decision is bound to have a strong
influence on MAFF's review.

It is now no longer at all easy to work on GM rice R&D in Japan. The same
applies to other GM foods as well.

"We do not want GM food! We do not eat GM food! We will not let GM food
be produced!". These are the words that are being repeated again and
again by the Citizens of Japan and their efforts look set to bring some
big results very soon.

In terms of a global perspective on GM farming, the US company Monsanto's
attempt to rest control over global food production has not diminished,
and the GM farming area is enlarging. In addition, commercialisation for
GM wheat is being sought in the US and Canada.

NO! GMO Campaign's next step is to increase its cooperation with other
citizens from all over the world in order to bring a halt to GM food.

NO! GMO Campaign
Keisuke Amagasa

For more information please contact:
Keisuke Amagasa (Mr)
Masako Koga (Ms)
NO! GMO Campaign
75-2F, Wasedamachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-0042
TEL: +81-3-5155-4756
FAX: +81-3-5155-4767

(*) The Iwate Biotechnology Research Center was established in April 1992
with 100% funding from Iwate Prefecture. On 3 April 2003, the MAFF
approved outdoor trials for a low-temperature resistant rice variety
"Sub29" developed by the Iwate Biotechnology Research Center. This GM
rice variety (Sasanishiki) contains the glutathione-S-transferase gene,
which imparts multiple functions such as herbicide resistance and cold
resistance. The problem with this rice variety is that it produces
enzymes with multiple functions, and thus contains many uncertain
factors. Simply anything could happen, and it is possible that previously
unknown problems will arise with this variety in the future.
(Source: Citizens' Biotechnology Information Center -CBIC)

Further reading:
NO! GMO Campaign:
Citizens' Biotechnology Information Center:
GM Rice Watch Center Japan:
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Japan acceded on 21 November 2003)

There are 3 more local governments involved GE rice R&D in Japan:
Rice variety with an incorporated maize gene (Hokkaido)
High-level tryptophan storage rice (Ibaraki)
A disease tolerant GM rice (Kagawa)

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  GM natto sales start in Japan amid protests
SOURCE: Mainichi Shimbun, Japan
DATE:   Nov 28, 2003

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GM natto sales start in Japan amid protests

SAPPORO -- A venture firm on Friday began selling Japan's first natto, or
fermented soybeans, bearing the "genetically modified" label, amid
protests from citizen's groups. The natto, sold by Sapporo-based firm A-
HITBio, uses genetically modified U.S. soybeans that have undergone a
Japanese government examination. "We wanted to give people in Japan, as
well, the chance to eat food that uses genetically modified crops," a
representative of the firm said. Residents and critics, however have
objected to the sales, saying there is no need to sell the genetically
modified product. The natto is sold 40-gram packs as "Dr. Tomi-chan no
'Natto no Susume'" and uses genetically modified U.S. soybeans that can
survive spraying with weed killer produced by U.S. firm Monsanto, unlike
ordinary soybeans. Fusao Tomita, a Hokkaido University emeritus professor
and an adviser to A-HITBio, and others combined a natto bacteria produced
by the university with the soybeans to create the product. Sales of the
natto, which is advertised as using 95 percent genetically modified
soybeans, are made through the Internet or by fax order, with a minimum
order of 15 packs, costing 800 yen excluding postage and other costs. A-
HitBio plans to reach 10 million yen in sales in the first year. But
there remain opponents to the product. Junichi Kowaka, managing executive
of the Japan Offspring Fund predicted that the natto would not be popular
among Japanese consumers. "This is absolutely no reason to introduce this
product into society," he said. "A large number of consumers will
probably not buy it, and I suspect it will soon disappear from the
market. Isn't it strange for people to say it is "gentle on the
environment" when weed killers are used to the raw materials of
genetically modified soybeans?"


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig

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