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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 October 19 - 25  > TPP will increase supply of imported foods containing high levels of residual pesticides: JCP Saito
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2016 October 19 - 25 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

TPP will increase supply of imported foods containing high levels of residual pesticides: JCP Saito

October 19, 2016
Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Saito Kazuko on October 18 at a House Special Committee meeting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement said that the ratification of the agreement is unacceptable as it will widen the circulation of imported foods which violate Japan’s safety standards.

Japan imports about 32 million tons of food from abroad. As measures to ensure that imported foods satisfy safety standards, such as the government-set limit of residual pesticides, a monitoring inspection is conducted on imported foods. However, these food products go to market before the test results come in. More than 90% of imported foods even go on sale without obtaining the risk-free stamp.

In contrast to the growth in food imports, the rate of inspecting these foods is decreasing and marked the lowest rate in 2015. This is because the number of food sanitation inspectors deployed across Japan is only 408 which includes two newcomers in 2016.

JCP Saito pointed to the fact that all of imported okra had been consumed before residual pesticides 26 times higher than the legal limits were detected.

Citing the food inspectors’ comment that at least 3,000 inspectors are necessary for a thorough examination of imported foods, Saito urged the government to drastically increase the number of inspection officers.

In response to Saito, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo took a “so-what” attitude, saying, “Not only in the United States but also in EU nations, a similar situation can be found.” He went on to say, “The amount of pesticide residues discovered on imported foods is lower than the level that may affect people’s health.”

Saito criticized the prime minister for minimizing the seriousness of the situation. “As PM, you should fulfill your responsibility to protect food safety rather than rushing to the TPP ratification,” she added.

Past related article:
> 91% of imported food left uninspected [April 21, 2016]
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