|Spilled GM canola growing in Japan - Citizens' survey results 2007
Written by Keisuke Amagasa (NO! GMO Campaign)
On July 7, 2007, NO! GMO Campaign published the findings of a survey of
spilled GM canola found growing in Japan. The survey was carried out from
March 2007 onwards by citizens in 43 out of the total of 47 prefectures in
Japan. In total, 1617 samples were tested and of these 37 showed up as GMO
positive. A similar survey was also conducted in South Korea*.
The samples were collected not only around ports where canola (oilseed rape)
is imported, and around factories where canola oil is extracted, as well as
along canola transportation routes, but also in some urban areas and on
Oilseed rape is not cultivated much in Japan, so Japan mostly imports it
from Canada and Australia. 80% of the canola imports come from Canada, and
are presumably GM. Non-GM canola is imported from Australia.
GM canola produced in Canada is all herbicide tolerant - half to Monsanto's
'Roundup' and half to Bayer CropScience's 'Basta'.
Imported canola seeds are stored in port warehouses, then driven to oil
extraction facilities by trucks. Seeds are easily spilled during transportation to warehouses and factories, and also during loading and unloading.
Surveying spilled GM canola began in 2005, so this is the 3rd year of
citizens' surveys. In 2005 and 2006, GM canola was confirmed to be growing
around Chiba port, Kashima port, Nagoya port, Shimizu port, Yokkaichi port,
Kobe port, Uno port, and Hakata port. Moreover, high proportions of the GM
canola were confirmed to be growing around oil extraction facilities and
near to transportation routes. There were some cases where GM canola was
found growing away from transportation routes, including along residential
streets in Nagano prefecture and Oita Prefecture. This confirms that GM
canola pollution is much more widespread than expected.
According to this year's findings, GM canola found near to an oil extraction
factory in Chiba prefecture was tolerant to both Roundup and Basta. As there
is no GM canola variety currently available which has transgenes for both
types of herbicide tolerance, this GM canola must have been crossed at a
seed or cultivation stage, or possibly at the spot where it was spilled.
Another finding, according to surveys conducted by a team lead by Professor
Masaharu Kawata (Yokkaichi University) in Mie prefecture between 2005 and
2007, is that GM canola is becoming perennial. It is not common for canola
to be biennial due to the cold Canadian winters, but in the warmer winters
in Japan, canola can survive for several years and became like a bushy tree,
and pollen from GM canola then continues to spread year after year. Thus,
the environmental impact caused by spilled GM canola seeds is potentially
very serious in Japan.
According to Professor Kawata, "There are leaf mustard and conventional
rapeseed growing around the spilled GM canola plants, so it is only a matter
of time before they are crossed and contaminated by GMOs. Also, some other
cruciferous vegetables like Japanese radish and Chinese cabbage are in
danger of GM contamination."
A common finding in 2007 was that the GM positive canolas were found growing
around ports in Yashiro City in Kumamoto prefecture and Shibushi City in
Kagoshima prefecture where animal feed factories are situated. Rapeseed meal
is produced after the oil is extracted and is then used for animal feed.
From now on, samples will also need to be collected around ports near feed
Japan does not produce any GM crops. However, because Japan imports GM
canola from Canada, GM contamination has already occurred and it is
spreading to a much greater degree than one could imagine. If GM crops are
cultivated, then this kind of pollution will spread even more. Judging by
the ominous precedent of Canada, once GM crops are cultivated, segregation
between GM and non-GM will become almost impossible, and keeping pure non-GM
varieties away from GM contamination will be very hard.
The clear conclusion from the findings is that cultivating or importing GM
crops, leads to GM pollution and once this pollution begins, it can cause
The nationwide survey of spilled GM canola in 2007
Prefecture / samples / Roundup / Basta
Fukuoka / 402 / 14 / 9
Kumamoto / 37 / 0 / 1
Kagoshima / 22 / 0 / 1
Hyogo / 27 / 1 / 1
Osaka / 114 / 0 / 1
Chiba / 170 / 3 / 2
Shizuoka / 43 / 2 / 2
Other 36 prefectures / 802 / 0 / 0
Total / 1617 / 20 / 17
This survey was conducted by citizens all over Japan. 1500 people
*For more information, please contact NO! GMO Campaign:
Tel: +81- 3- 5155- 4756
(English translation released on 2007 Aug 6.)