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
October, 2000, No.138


Major Soy Sauce Makers Start Genetically Modified (GM) Labelling

Insect Repellent, Piperonyl Butoxide -possible carcinogen- Found in Baby Food Products

Articles Major Soy Sauce Makers Start Genetically Modified (GM) Labelling [contents]

Two major soy sauce makers, Kikkoman and Yamasa, have begun labelling non-GM products. Since Japanese GM-labelling regulations will not be applied to soy sauce products, this action could create momentum for expanding the labelling of products exempt from GM-labelling requirements.

"Non-GM" labelling of products containing whole and organic soybeans began in July. Kikkoman imports these soybeans from Canada, and Yamasa uses soybeans from the U.S. Under government regulations (Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry), soy sauce products will be exempt from GM labelling requirement, because regulations were made before testing methods for GM traits in soy sauce ingredients were established.

In March, however, the Nikkei newspaper reported that a testing method had been found that could detect GM ingredients in mixture rates at levels as low as 0.1% for about 30 food products, including fermented soy beans and soy bean paste. The report explained that GM traits in soy sauce and oil products could also be measured, though testing methods still lacked certainty. Noting this technical change, the two major soy sauce makers began GM labelling. In the near future, opportunities for consumers to avoid GM foods will significantly increase if labelling is required on all soy sauce and oil products as well. Voluntary labelling by these makers could be the first step.

Articles Insect Repellent, Piperonyl Butoxide -possible carcinogen-Found in Baby Food Products [contents]

Test has found the insect repellent, piperonyl butoxide, in prune baby foods made by Gerber at levels as high as 100 ppb. It is clearly unacceptable to spray this chemical on prunes; particularly those used in baby foods.

The chemical was also found at levels of 80 ppb in both "Prune Extract" by POKKA and dried fruit product "Prune" by Crown. The least amount was detected from "Prune Extract" by MIKI, at 20 ppb. But even at this level is unacceptable, especially, considering that MIKI's prune products are expensive and are advertised as "good for health".

It is not the amount but the fact that illegal insect repellent were found should be taken seriously.

Table: Quantity of Piperonyl Butoxide Detected in Prune/Prune products
Product Name Manufacturer/Seller Detected Amount (ppb)
MIKI Prune Miki Shouji 20
Sun Sweet Prune Extract POKKA Co. 80
Prune-Gerber Baby Food Meiji-ya 100
California Prune Crown Foods 80

This insect repellent, piperonyl butoxide, is categorized as a food additive in Japan, and therefore can only be used on crops. In the U.S., however, the government allows it to be used as a post harvest chemical. This means it can be sprayed over harvested prunes. Mixed with other insecticides, this insect repellent has been used to kill insects inside of prunes in the U.S. Its toxicity is categorized as the strongest among food additives. According to the "Dictionary of Agricultural Pesticide Toxicity," male rats developed lymph cancer in animal testing using this chemical. Although the direct risk from quantities of the chemical found in prune remains unclear, humans may be at risk.


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