GM rice stopped in Japan (1/12/2003)

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

Press Information - NO! GMO Campaign Japan
December 1, 2003

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)
[email protected])
NO! GMO Campaign
75-2F, Wasedamachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-0042 Japan
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: http://www.no-gmo.org/
Citizens' Biotechnology Information Center:
GM Rice Watch Center Japan:
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Japan acceded on 21 November 2003)

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