Consumers Demand Better Food Labelling System

325,125 people signed a petition demanding better food labelling rules in Japan. The signatures were collected by the No! GMO Campaign over a 6 month period, starting in the fall of 2009. This popular grass root movement strongly supports drastic changes to the current labelling system. An event was held on March 26, 2010 to submit the signatures to legislators at the House of Councilors of the Japanese Parliament in central Tokyo.

The main targets of the push for revised rules are:

1) The ingredients of processed foods should be covered by a traceability system to facilitate mandatory labelling;
2) All genetically modified (GM) foods and animal feed ingredients should be covered by the mandatory GM labelling system; and
3) Any food from cloned animals must be covered by a mandatory labelling system.

The background for these demands is that consumers want to improve the nation’s food self-sufficiency ratio and ensure that our food is safe and healthy. The many signatures confirm that this is a long-held desire of the consumers in Japan.

Many people took the opportunity to add their personal opinions to the petition. One consumer said, “Under the current labelling system, I can not be sure if I am choosing domestic foods or not.” “I want you to make sure that consumers have the right to know and the right to choose,” was another comment. Moreover, participants said, “We want processed foods to be clearly labeled if the ingredients come from GM plants, irregardless of whether there are proteins left in the food or not, just like in the European Union, where a traceability system has made it possible to introduce a comprehensive labelling system.”

This applies especially to food oils and soy sauce, which are currently not covered by Japan’s GM food labelling system, based on the reasoning that genetically modified organisms can not be detected in the final products: “Food manufacturers should not be unaware of what kind of raw material they are using. Not being able to detect DNA is no excuse for not labelling all GM foods.”

The No! GMO Campaign will continue to make every effort to appeal to the government to revise the food labelling system to secure the consumers’ right to choose.

(More on the Consumers Union of Japan website)

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