SOS in Japan
For immediate release (please pass on)
JAPANESE ORGANIC STANDARDS AT RISK !!
Japanese Agricultural Standards for Organic Agricultural Products (JASOAP)
announced on January 20th, 2000 allows GMOs in fertilizers and soil
* JASOAP allows genetically modified rapeseed and soybean oil refuse and
their meal as soil inputs.
* JASOAP allows composts derived from livestock and poultry manure that are
fed with GMO feed.
* JAOAP do prohibit the use of GMO seeds and seedlings, pest control
materials, and processing aids, but NOT prohibit other uses of GMOs and
There has been growing interests and market demand for organic foods in
Japan. Lack of regulations and control of organic labeling, however, had
been a major problem for consumers and handlers of organic foods.
International standard harmonization, on the other hand, was another task
for the government. In response to such demand, the Ministry of
Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF), amended Japanese Agricultural
Standards Law in order to introduce mandatory organic standards and
third-party certification, which will be enforced on April 1st, 2000.
Codex Alimentalius international guidelines for organic foods as well as
other organic standards in the world do not allow GMOs and any of their
products since they are not consistent with principles of organic
agriculture. However, JASOAP issued recently leave some rooms for GMOs.
Genetically modified soybean refuse is allowed as a source of soil inputs,
for example. Self-sufficiency rate of soybean is 2-3%, and most of soybeans
consumed in Japan are imported. In most cases, they are mixed with GM
crops, and this rule may be to help Japanese farmers who are highly
dependent on imports especially for livestock feed and its by-products.
However, consumers do not want organic products produced with GMOs and their
products. They do not want organic fields contaminated with GMOs and their
products, either. There was a clear voice from all over the world saying
"NO" to GMOs in organics when USDA proposed organic rules that may allow
GMOs back in 1997.
For foreign exporters of organic products to Japan, fair competition with
Japanese organic products are not guaranteed, because while foreign organic
producers have to meet the requirements to avoid GMOs and their products,
according to their national regulations, Japanese organic producers do not
necessarily have to do so. JASOAP are not consistent with international
guidelines as well as organic principles when exclusion of GMOs are
ACTION NEEDED --- FROM ABROAD TOO
In reaction to these controversial organic standards, SOS in Japan has
started to campaigning to Japanese consumers. Since JASOAP do not clearly
state they would allow GMOs but secretly prohibit only seeds/seedlings and
some materials while allowing other GMOs and their products, few Japanese
knows about this fact.
In addition, however, we would like to raise concerns overseas as well.
Since Japanese market of organic food is growing even for imports, Japanese
regulation inevitably affects foreign organic producers, too.
Currently, MAFF is not officially open to comments specific to this issue,
but please send comments to the address below, and notify your own
government about JASOAP unfair in terms of trade and inconsistent with
MAFF e-mail (for general comments/inquiry) : firstname.lastname@example.org
MAFF phone (main): +81-3-3502-8111
*There was an unofficial English translation of JASOAP (draft) in USDA-FAS
reports found at http://www.fas.usda.gov/htp/organics/attache.htm , but
please note there are some changes when the final version is announced on
Save Organic Safe (SOS) in Japan
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