The Joy Of Non-GMO Soy

I like how Japan and Asia provide many foods based on soy beans, including tofu and miso. But soy is also grown around the world, and in many countries the mass production on huge farms are a threat to the environment.

Massive areas of forests have been clear cut in the Amazon, and much soy is genetically modified to tolerate strong herbicides like Roundup, that kills all weeds - with yet unknown effects on wildlife and all those who consume it.

First time commenter here on Kurashi, "Lesley" (thanks!) asked for an update on the situation in Japan. I have posted here and here about soy (and here!), and I'd like to explain about "kokusan" in more detail.

Kokusan 国産 is the label for food that is grown and produced here in Japan. Since farmers in Japan have completely rejected GMO soy, look for soy-based products like tofu, soy sauce, or miso with this simple label. The kanji characters simply mean "country" and "made" - indicating that the food has been produced in (this) country, Japan.

If you want to avoid GMOs, you can also buy organic 有機 since the rules for organic farming do not allow GMOs anywhere in the world.

Click on the top image for a screen shot of many products that carry the kokusan label!

Kokusan is not a regulated label, but farmers and food companies here in Japan have been very diligent about keeping this concept. Support them. Japan's food self sufficiency rate is quite low (about 40%) but for soy in particular, some 80-90% is being imported and used mostly as animal feed. Some imported soy is also used for "salad oil" (ridiculous name) and all kinds of food additives, like lecithin. So, avoiding GMOs completely can be rather tricky if you eat foods with processed ingredients, like cheap chocolate or cakes. Also, most food additives these days are made in China, so it has been pointed out that the kokusan label really should only apply to food products without chemicals or additives.

If you read Japanese, you can always check the list of ingredients to make sure that the soy is GMO free: 遺伝子組み換えでない. See image (from this blog that has more examples).

For more information, please contact the No! GMO Campaign and order their information material (in Japanese).

But, to sum up, avoiding GMOs is easy for "real" food like tofu and miso.


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