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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 April 5 - 11  > Abe gov’t moves to put Japan’s seed production into hands of multinational agribusinesses
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2017 April 5 - 11 [ECONOMY]

Abe gov’t moves to put Japan’s seed production into hands of multinational agribusinesses

April 11, 2017
Lawmakers are now discussing a bill which will lead to the selling of Japan’s seed market to multinational corporations such as Monsanto.

In late March, a bill to abolish the Main Crop Seeds Act was forced through the Lower House and sent to the Upper House. In order to ensure a stable supply of food, the act requires prefectural governments to take responsibility for the seed production of rice, wheat, and soybeans. The Abe government aims to repeal the law, insisting that it has dampened private firms’ willingness and incentive to develop new varieties of crops.

With regard to this issue, Amagasa Keisuke, representing the Citizens’ Biotechnology Information Center, noted that the bill is a measure to help multinational seed giants control food production throughout the world. “The Abe administration drew up the bill in accordance with the demand of the U.S. business community. Once seed production is left to competition among private companies, multinational corporations will buy up Japanese seed producers and abandon traditional varieties,” he said.

So far, the top three transnational agribusiness corporations, including Monsanto, claim over a 50% share of the world’s seed market. They are developing genetically modified crops using biotechnology and are selling those products along with their agricultural chemicals.

Amagasa pointed out that glyphosate, a main ingredient of Monsanto’s agrochemicals, is reportedly carcinogenic. “The repeal of the seeds act will jeopardize Japan’s food safety and food sovereignty,” he said.

During the deliberations in the Lower House, Japanese Communist Party parliamentarians argued that the existing law has supported Japan’s food self-sufficiency. They warned that if the act is revoked, the price of seeds could skyrocket supposedly due to research and development costs.

On April 10, the day before the Upper House is slated to begin discussions, civic groups staged a rally outside the Diet building calling for opposition to the bill. Lawmakers from the JCP and the Democratic Party joined the action and gave speeches in solidarity.
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