Japan

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We also recommend Citizens' Biotechnology Information Center (CBIC), providing updates in English from Japan.

Updates + Overviews

GMO-free zone national exchange conference held in Sendai

The 11th GMO-free zone exchange conference was held in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan on 5th and 6th March 2016 with around 300 people attending, including Tohoku region farmers and consumers from around the country.

In resistance to the centrally controlled Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction Plan being pushed forward by the government, citizens in Miyagi Prefecture are currently proceeding with recovery and regeneration that are rooted in local areas, and it was confirmed that the ideas of the GMO-free zone movement are in common with those of the recovery movement by local citizens.

There is also great apprehension that TPP (the Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement) will result in large amounts of GM foods being imported into Japan and a conference declaration that stated that the resistance movement against such imports is precisely the same as the GMO-free zone movement was adopted.

In February 2016, the total area of the GMO-free zone in Japan is 87,167 ha and is increasing every year.

(Updated in May 2016 Information provided by Consumers Union of Japan and No! GMO Campaign

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GMO Free Zone Registration Status Report (2012)

The NO! GMO Campaign held its seventh annual nationwide GMO Free Zone conference in Yamaguchi Prefecture on March 3, 2012. About 450 farmers and consumers gathered from all over Japan. The trend in Japan is that the total area of GMO Free Zones is expanding. The total registered area now stands at 78366.81 hectares as of February 17, 2012. This is an increase by 9694.16 hectares compared to the previous year (February 10, 2011). Over the past year, new GMO Free Zones have been registered in 23 prefectures out of Japan’s 43 prefectures, as well as in administrative areas such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Hokkaido. Only two prefectures in the entire country do not have any GMO Free Zones. In total, the combined area is about 1.7% of the cultivated farmland in Japan.

(NO! GMO Campaign, 6 Aug 2012)

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Protect biodiversity from living modified organisms at MOP5 in Nagoya!
A network of japanese organisations was created in order to act on the United Nations’ major meeting to be held in Nagoya, October 2010, for the Protocol on Biosafety (also called Cartagena Protocol) which regulates the international trade of organisms modified by modern biotechnology (living modified organisms). They want the meeting in Nagoya to define rules to protect consumers and the environment. The rules will be a crucial element of the global regulations regarding the integrity and continued sustainable use of living organisms under threat from certain risky applications of modern biotechnology.

The NO! GMO Campaign campaigned to halt Monsanto’s GM rice development, which the company intended to use to promote its GM rice into the Asian market. (in 2001, after a petition signed by over 580,000 citizens)
About 50,050 ha in total (over 1% of the whole farmland) are declared GMO-free in Japan
GM Rapeseed from Canada is growing Wild without control. In March 2004, the NO! GMO Campaign visited Canada and the U.S. to deliver a petition signed by 440 groups representing over 1,300,000 Japanese individuals.
155 organizations representing over 2.9 individuals signed on the petition to ask Australian state governments to extend their GM ban.

How to declare GMO-free zone in Japan? (Japanese)

Organisations and institutions active on GMO

NO! GMO Campaign
We, NO! GMO Campaign was established in 1996 by citizens of Japan in order to stop genetically modified foods (GMOs). The purpose and goals of No! GMO Campaign are: 1. We won't buy, won't eat, won't sell and won't farm GMO. 2. We demand proper labelling of GMO. 3. We work for increased food self sufficiency (food security) and we support local farming. 4. We encourage Japanese farmers to save the seeds, in order to keep Japan's biodiversity and to develop agro-genetic resources. No! GMO Campaign organises seminars and conferences, and publishes information materials. No! GMO Campaign prints and distributes a monthly newsletter for members. No! GMO Campaign has been active in the boycott of products manufactured by pro-GMO companies. We have tested and analyzed a hundred of foods in Japan. No! GMO Campaign has collected 2 million signatures against GMOs in Japan.
World Foodless Day in Tokyo
Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ) opposite pictures show the Planet Diversity Parade organised by the CUJ on the occasion of the United Nations MOP5-COP10 conference in Nagoya. The activists demanded GMO-free zones, no patents on life and protection of biodiversity. View videos here.
Menno Village Naganuma/ Mennonite Mission Network (Japanese)
A Seed Japan (Japanese)
Citizens' Biotechnology Information Center (CBIC): English news service from Japan

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Presentations

GM-Free Campaign in Japan, by Hiroko Akahori, Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative and Hiromi Kawahara, Green Coop Consumers Co-operative, "Food and Democracy", April 2009, Lucern.

Genetic Modified Oilseed rape in Japan, by Ryoko Shimizu, Planet Diversity, May 2008, Bonn.
Read the speech of Ryoko Shimitzu

Japan: How Hokkaido protects its farmers from GMOs, by Shinji Asada, former vice-governor of Hokkaido, Planet Diversity, May 2008, Bonn.
Listen to the speech of Shinji Asada read by Raymond Epp

Building the consumer anti-GMO Movement in JapanNO! GMO Campaign, Ryoko Shimizu No! GMO campaign in Japan, May 2008
Workshop GMOs in Asia at Planet Diversity Conference, May 2008, Bonn

Official and institutional links

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (Japanese and English)
National Institute of Health Sciences (Japanese and English)

Legal documents

Law Concerning the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity through Regulations on the Use of Living Modified Organisms, 遺伝子組換え生物等の使用等の規制による生物の多様性の確保に関する法律(p.4-25 translated in English)
The Food Safety Basic Law, Law No. 48, May 23, 2003/12/15, Last amendment : No. 74. June 11. 2003 (Tentative Translation in English)
The Plant Variety Protection and Seed Act (Act No. 83 of May 29,1998) (English)

Other background information

Christine von Weizsäcker visits Japan: Genetic modification of living organisms is a threat to biodiversity, November 2009
How genetically modified foods are accelerating the food crisis, by Keisuke AMAGASA, Chairperson of NO! GMO Campaign, World Foodless Day, Tokyo, October 16, 2008.
Saying No To Genetically Modified Foods In Japan by greenz.jp, Tokyo, Japan, published on www.treehugger.com on 10. 3.08
Problems of the Japanese Standards for the Risk Assessment of GMOs, a preliminary study by the Codex Study Group, Tokyo, May 2008
The Opposition Movement to GMO in Japan, by Ryoko Shimizu, Seikatsu Club Consumers' Co-operative
Hokkaido government proposes strict GMO rules after petition of citizens, February 2005
US Department of Agriculture: Regional law on GM crop cultivation on Hokkaido
Bio Journal, Citizens' Biotechnology Information Center (current situation around GMOs and biotechnology in Japan)