From Bio Journal - April 2018

National GMO-Free Zone Exchange Conference held in Nagoya

The 13th National GMO-Free Zone Exchange Conference was held in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture on 3rd March 2018. This is the only national gathering of people opposed to GM crops and foods in Japan, but as there were also participants from South Korea and Taiwan this time the meeting has taken on more of an Asian scale. Aichi Prefecture is an advanced region for the organic farming movement and the morning markets, where the organic produce is sold. It is also a region where strong action is being taken to develop crops unique to the area and conduct surveys of wild GM rapeseed volunteers. At the conference, as well as an activity report being presented, rejection of food produced from genome modified crops and animals, represented by genome editing, was confirmed.

On 4th March, it was agreed that citizens' organizations in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan should take joint actions, and a Non-GMO Asia Forum was established. A common declaration will be issued on March Against Monsanto Day, held in many countries on 19 May.

Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol enters into force

The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol entered into force on 5 March 2018. It has now been eight years since the Supplementary Protocol was adopted on 15 October 2010 at the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, held in Nagoya (COP10-MOP5). The Supplementary Protocol defines liability and redress, and requires that companies that develop living modified (by genetic engineering, etc.) organisms take response measures, when biodiversity has been damaged by such organisms.

To ratify the Supplementary Protocol, the Japanese government passed amendments to the domestic Cartagena Laws in April 2017. (See BJ April 2017 and Convention on Biological Diversity) The two main points of the amendments are that 1) In the case that impacts that damage biodiversity arise due to genetically modified living organisms, etc. the Minister for the Environment can order the person, etc. responsible to take necessary steps to rectify the damage and 2) Establishment of punishments in the case of infringements of the order for response measures (up to one year imprisonment or a fine not exceeding one million yen).

In addition to the amendments of the Cartagena Laws, the adjustment of ministerial decrees, etc. has also been pushed forward and signing of the Supplementary Protocol was given cabinet approval on 5 December 2017. The Supplementary Protocol takes force 90 days after it has been signed by 40 countries. As Japan was the 40th country to sign, the Protocol took force on 5 March 2018. The domestic laws and ministerial decrees also took force simultaneously on the same day.

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