Japan Offspring Fund(JOF) is a consumer group and environmental NGO established in 1984. We have researched issues involving the safety of daily life, including chemical residues, endocrine disruptors, and genetically engineered food.

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Japan Offspring Fund (JOF) Monthly Newsletter
March,2000 , No.131

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) detected in toys made of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Codex task force on Biotechnology in Japan from March 14-17,2000

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) detected in toys made of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

As part of the No! PVC Campaign, the Citizen's Table of Endocrine Disruptors (Citizen's Table) tested toys made of PVC. Bisphenol A was found to leach from these toys, and the use of DEHP and DINP was also confirmed.

EDCs from toys made of PVC The objects made of PVC were dolls that are characters popular among Japanese children, such as Rika-chan and Anpan-man. The tests examined residues of three kinds, including DEHP and DINP. Three chemicals were found within a range of 8-31% in these toys.

The softer toys are, the larger the amount of these chemicals used. Assuming that babies put these toys in their mouths, another test showed that Bisphenol A leaches from these toys at concentrations between 0.001-0.99ug/ml.

Labeling will start

Until now, consumers could not know which toys contain EDCs, because no labeling of materials was required. The Japanese Association of Toys, an organization of toy makers, however, announced on February 9 that from April it would start labeling materials and softeners used in toys with ST marks for children under 3 years old children.

In addition to the fact that Bisphenol A leaches from PVC, PVC itself has been suspected as an EDC. Moreover, Bisphenol A and DEHP have been identified as carcinogenic chemicals. Last December, the EU decided to prohibit selling toys and products made of PVC for babies under 3 year-old, as long as they contain at least one of six DEHPs and DINPs.

No! PVC Campaign has sent a letter to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Environment Agency, the Japan Association of Toys and six toy makers. This letter requests labeling of materials on all toys and a stop to the production and sale of toys made of PVC.

Test results of leaching DEHP, DINP and Bisphenol A in toys made of PVC:

No. Name of Product Producer Targeted age Labeling of materials DEHP DINP BPA
1 Rika chan Takara under 3 year-old X 55 210000 0.001
2 Hello Kitty Ball Ball Angel N/A X 3700 310000 0.65
3 Nakayoshi Friend Sega enterprise under 3 months O 24000 230000 0.45
4 Ultraman Thiga Bandai under 3 year-old X 810 81000 0.99
5 K.O. punch Anopan Agatsuma under 3 year-old 150000 Not detected 0.017
6 Animal mizudeppou Royal under 1.5 year-old O Not detected 270000 Not detected

Codex task force on Biotechnology in Japan from March 14-17,2000

A Codex meeting of the Intergovernmental Task Force on Food Derived from Biotechnology will be held in Japan from March 14 to 17. As a result of this important event, one which will wield considerable influence over the future of genetically modified (GM) foods, consumer groups and Co-ops have started to organize for action. One action being arranged is the "NGO Forum on Codex." JOF as well is preparing to act, and plans are being made to cooperate with British and Korean NGOs.

Articles A British expert will be invited [contents]

The Codex Special Task Force will be held at an international conference hall in Makuhari, Chiba Prefecture, just east of Tokyo. This is the first meeting of the Task Force, which will have a four-year duration. In addition, to the surprise of many, a Japanese chairman has been appointed to head the group.

JOF will mainly focus on the following three points:
1) Speaking out on consumers' opinions at the meeting;
2) Post proceedings of the meeting simultaneously on JOF's Japanese homepage;
3) Convey the proceedings and consumers' opinions at press conferences.

JOF will participate in the meeting to speak as an official representative of IACFO (International Association of Consumer Food Organizations), and will therefore have an influence over the meeting itself. To help ensure the effectiveness of our participation, Ms. Jeanette Longfield from the U.K. will join us as a representative of IACFO.

Ms. Longfield is the secretary of an NGO called "Sustain," whose organizational members number 100 in the U.K. Many of these NGOs are campaigning for a five year moratorium on the permission procedure for GM crops in the UK and, although the UK Government has not yet accepted this demand, there have been some historical victories with many supermarkets and manufactures refusing to sell GM foods. She has attended domestic meetings for Codex for many years, and is used to negotiating with governmental organizations.
She is thus an invaluable representative of IACFO. We will devote all our energy to this first meeting in order to make sure consumers' opinions are reflected properly and successfully to influence the future of GM foods.

Articles Send information by our homepage and press conferences [contents]
Codex meetings are generally carried out in English with simultaneous interpretation in only French and Spanish. In this way, Japanese minutes of the proceeding have not been available. Therefore, to get Japanese information in a timely manner, we have had to attend and translate the discussions into Japanese by ourselves. Our only other recourse would have been to wait for announcements from the Japanese Government.

This time, however, simultaneous translation into Japanese has been arranged. Moreover, the meeting is open to the public with 100 seats in a separate room at the site. Due to Codex procedural rules, speeches in Japanese at meetings are not allowed, but this time reporters and auditors, at least, will be able to listen to discussion in Japanese.

The homepage of the Ministry of Public Health and Welfare (MHW) gives a summary of the meeting and its background. Such a timely release of information is a surprising, but welcome, new step from the Japanese. Nevertheless, official information from the governmental side will be limited to a certain degree. Therefore, JOF will release prompt reports of the proceedings on our homepage, including information that only we will be able to provide, as few NGOs will be able to participate officially in the meeting. We also plan to have a press conference on the morning of May 16, during a break in the meeting.

JOF homepage---http://tabemono.info/
MHW homepage---http://www.mhw.go.jp/english/codex_13/codex-english.html

Articles Cooperation with a Korean NGO [contents]
To stand against the strong influence of the U.S., the Asian countries need to cooperate. For this reason, JOF will invite Ms. Kwang-Mo Chung, president of the Consumer Union of Korea (CUK). CUK is preparing a book in Korean, adding Korean information to our newly published book, "How to avoid GM foods." Since a labeling proposal for GM foods will be announced soon in Korea, we are also working together to contain GM foods by analyzing the new proposal.

Articles "NGO Forum on Codex" [contents]
We would like to inform activities arranged by other NGOs during the Codex meeting. Following an appeal from Ms. Mika Iba from the Network @for Safe &@Secure Food and Environment, the "NGO Forum on Codex" will be held near Makuhari during the Codex meeting. JOF will attend as a supporting organization. The meeting will be held during the Codex meeting, and a press conference, opinion exchanges, a demonstration, and a reception are planned.

The meeting will bring together representatives of governments and NGOs from around the globe. In this sense, it will be a unique chance to share the opinions of Japanese consumers with the rest of the world. The NGO Forum is open to all those interested in the Codex and GM foods, so feel free to call us or fax us (fax: 81-3-3325-5890) for more details.


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