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Introduction to the Project on Bioethics for Informed Choices - page 92 / 115

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622Challenges for Bioethics from Asia

Results of the investigation by students: Candidate students: The total in three third-year classes is 119. The number of presenters: 53 persons. Survey period: The latter part of November, 2003; Survey area: The North Tama area of Tokyo. Areas along the Chuo and Seibu railway lines

Number of shops surveyed:  43; Total number of surveyed items: 500; Canned corn food: 42; Soy sauce: 62; Fermented soybeans: 62; Bean paste: 63. There was no overlapping of surveyed shops, but some of the items.

Results of the survey

1.No goods were labeled as GM-food.

2. Very few goods were unlabeled or labeled as un-classified.

3.Even soy sauce for which there is no requirement to label, almost all the foods were in fact labeled.

4.Unlabeled fermented soybeans are only sold at convenience stores.

5.For corn and soy sauce, a tendency for the price of goods not classified by type or unlabeled to be cheap is seen.

6.There is no significant price spread for bean paste and fermented soybeans between non-GM and other types of food.

The prices of soybeans and Non-GM soybeans at The Tokyo Grain Exchange

Reference data: Survey carried out by the council on consumers in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Questionnaire carried out in year 2000. The number of effective replies: 474 persons When buying tofu, fermented soybeans, etc. are you concerned about its labeling as “non-GM” etc? Reply

“If there is not much price difference I’d purchase labeled goods”: 44.1%

“I’d purchase labeled goods regardless of price”: 43.0%

“I’m not particularly worried about labeling”: 12.7%

Contents of interpretation for students made after questionnaire

1.Explanation of Monsanto’s soybean “round-up-lady” (herbicide resistant).

2.By producing this soybean the amount of weed-killer used, and the time and effort required of the farmer are reduced.

3.Resistance of the soybean is limited to Monsanto’s weed-killer.

4.According to the checks made so far, safety has been confirmed .

5.It is not yet known whether it is harmless in the long run.    

Reaction to Questionnaire of students

1.Do you look at the label to see whether or not food is GM when buying food from day-to-day?

2.If you don’t have to be concerned about price, which would you choose?

3.If you have to be careful about price, which would you choose?

Trends in students’ reactions

1.The number of students who have reservations increases greatly after the explanation.

2.The number of students who look at the label at the time of food purchase decreases greatly after the explanation.

Discussion

Shinagawa: Non GM food was widely sold around Tokyo area.  Do you know any place in Japan where GM food is sold?  For example Hokkaido.

Yamashita: I haven’t looked that up yet, so I would like other teachers to investigate that.

Konishi: Not only should the students research the price of the GM foods, but also the risk and benefit of eating those foods must be linked, otherwise the students won’t understand the meaning.  

Yamashita: I have prepared some more slides.  I explained the round up ready soybeans, its concerns and benefits.  I also took some survey to students.  So, the by growing the round up ready soybeans, less pesticides are needed, but there hasn’t been a long-term research on its effect on human health.  I explained these factors.  This is the survey, and its result.  I surveyed the students before and after the explanation.  

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