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Bioethics Education621

Teaching about GM Food in the Context of the Japanese Economy

- Toru Yamashita .

HigashiMurayama High School, Tokyo, JAPAN

Email: yamadayo.tooru@nifty.com

Results of classes are discussed, the purpose of which was to ascertain the present state of marketing of GM foods in Japan; to obtain data for considering GM foods from the standpoint of economics; and to devise new methods for teaching bioethics education in high schools. The procedure was to set a non-compulsory project for presentation during the high school 3rd year “Modern Society” compulsory course. Then for students to submit  project input as an Excel file (one lesson). The teacher printed the papers during the next lesson and recorded on a worksheet any observations made on reading the printed-out data. Then several of the students wrote their observations recorded in the worksheet on the blackboard. Next the students replied to a questionnaire and answered by raising their hands. The teacher explained simply about GM-food. In the end, the students answered the questionnaire again.

The outline of the paper is below. The purpose of this effort is below.

1.To ascertain the present state of marketing of GM foods in Japan.

2.To obtain data for considering GM foods from the standpoint of economics.

3.To devise new methods for teaching bioethics education in high schools.

Procedure of instruction

1.Set a non-compulsory project for presentation during the high school 3rd year “Modern Society” obligatory course

2.Have the submitted project input as an Excel file (one lesson )

3.The teacher prints the papers during the next lesson.

4.Record on a worksheet any observations made on reading the printed-out data

5.Have several of the students write their observations recorded in the worksheet on the blackboard

6. Have the students reply to a questionnaire and answer by raising their hands.

7. The teacher explains simply about GM-food.

8. Have the students reply to the  questionnaire again.

Legal Regulations in Japan: From April 1,2001  a duty to label transgenic processed food raw material was imposed by the revised Japanese agricultural standards law (the JAS law). The objects of the law are these agricultural-products:  soybean, corn, potato, cotton seed. The Labeling Method is:

1.When production and distribution has been managed with separation of food classified by type, GM food is labeled as transgenic

2.When agricultural products not separated by type are used as raw materials labeled as un-classified for GM

3. When production and distribution has been managed with separation of food classified by type,  non-GM food is labeled as non-transgenic .

Materials with no labeling obligation:

1.Processed food containing less than 5% of the raw material in question.

2.Processed food for which scientific verification cannot be performed, such as soy sauce and oil.

Subject matter of the project

1.The students go to their local supermarkets and observe the labels on the following foods.

Canned corn food; Soy sauce; Fermented soybeans; Bean paste.

2.The state of GM-food use is recorded in a hand-sheet. GM-food use is recorded as  “A”. Food not separated by type is recorded as “B” For products with no GM-food use “C” When there is no display, no entry is made

3. The following are recorded: Manufacturers name; Weight or volume; Price; Store name.

For the subject presenter 15 points are added to end-of- term grades.

. pp. 621-622 in Macer, DRJ., ed., "Challenges for Bioethics from Asia" (Eubios Ethics Institute, 2004).

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