Initiatives for protection against danger
Initiatives on SDGs
Background to preventing infections
In 2018, the WHO and UNICEF announced that 3.2 billion people worldwide are at risk from infection from malaria, and that 3.9 billion people in 128 countries– about half of the world’s population–is at risk of infection from dengue fever. Every minute, a child aged four or younger dies from malaria.
In 2019, the WHO included dengue fever, which is contracted via mosquitoes, as one of ten health risk issues requiring attention on a global scale. With the globalization of distribution and human movement in recent years, the risk of infections in tropical regions has expanded to encompass the entire world.
The risk of infectious diseases borne by insects is also growing as a result of increases in invasive species and the growth of insect habitats resulting from global warming. Earth Corporation contributes to preventing infections potentially transmitted by insects.
Initiatives in Japan
Name changed from “insecticides” to “Insect care products”
Even as populations continue to decline, the sales of products referred to as “insecticides” are increasing due to the effects of global warming and increases in invasive alien species. Amid these trends, we also found that consumers have a strong image of insecticides as having high levels of chemical toxicity. Because the products themselves are extremely safe, we decided to change the name to “insect care products,” as a first step in resolving misunderstandings resulting from this image, and in promoting appropriate care in preventing infections transmitted by mosquitoes, such as dengue fever and Zika fever.
When we made this change in the product names, we emphasized the correct communication of product safety, names that are easy to say and that create a correct image of the product, and the fact that this is an important product group in terms of preventing infections. In this way, we will send out information that enables consumers concerned about high toxicity to use the products with peace of mind, and at the same time promote educational activities at retail outlets and other locations, for example using videos to introduce the advantages of the products and the background to the change in name.
Concerns about infections transmitted by insects are growing throughout the world. For example, in 2021, a new record was set for the number of persons infected with Dabie bandavirus (SFTS: Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome), which is transmitted by ticks. In this backdrop, Earth Corporation has set up “Mushicare stations” at outdoor events and sports venues as part of insect care education activities. These Mushicare stations are original booths developed by Earth to introduce the risks of infections transmitted by insects, and to propose prevention using insect repellents and effective ways of using these products. At these booths, the staffs show visitors correct applications using actual “Saratect” insect repellents, and sometimes provide insect care education using displays showing harmful insects and examples of harmful cases. Up to now, the company has provided educational and prevention activities for participants at outdoor events in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture; Mifune-machi, Kumamoto Prefecture; and Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture. Each of these cases were a first for Earth, and they turned out to be very meaningful activities that drew considerable interest. Education in countermeasures against insect-borne infections is an important mission for us, and we will continue to expand these educational activities in the future through Mushicare stations, to contribute to reducing harm from these infections as much as possible.
On-site insect care classes at schools
It is extremely important to learn correct knowledge and countermeasures regarding insects that carry various dangers, such as the risk of infection. Earth Corporation conducts classes called “outdoor insect countermeasures” at schools across Japan. In these classes, instructors touch on the fact that even “dangerous” insects play a role in the ecosystem, while also explaining the ecology of various insects and the correct way to apply insect repellents. Participants can also observe a variety of insects raised at the company, and can gain valuable experiences and learnings about insect care (insect countermeasures). Through learnings at these classes, our goal is to protect the health of children, and contribute to safe, secure outdoor activities and daily lives.
Insect care seminars
“Earth Insect Care Seminar 2022” was held as part of educational activities aimed at teaching “Correct insect care based on correct knowledge.” This year’s seminar, the third in a series, focused on the theme of “Infections other than COVID to be cautious of.” Lecturers included Koichi Goka, from the National Institute for Environmental Studies, who has frequently appeared on television, and Satoshi Kutsuna of Osaka University. Goka gave a presentation entitled “Changes in the global environment and the growing risk of new infections,” regarding the relationship between the destruction of biodiversity and the growing risk of infections, and the importance of protecting biodiversity. In a presentation entitled “Are familiar insects a risk? Infections from mosquitoes and ticks, and their treatments,” Kutsuna explained that mosquitoes take more human lives than any other animal in the world; he talked about infections transmitted by mosquitoes, and explained that viral infections transmitted by ticks have been increasing in recent years, emphasizing the importance of insect care to prevent these infections. Many people watched the lectures, both at the venue and online, indicating a high interest and a strong demand surrounding insect care. We will continue to promote insect care education activities incorporating highly reliable information in collaboration with experts.
Business rollout in ASEAN countries
It has been about 40 years since Earth Corporation expanded into Thailand in the ASEAN region. At that time, average salaries and hygiene awareness were still low, and more than 90% of the population was Buddhist so there was a cultural background that frowned upon killing, even insects. Furthermore, in the Thai language, the word for insecticide is the same as “agricultural chemical,” so every time there was a news story about someone dying as a result of mistakenly ingesting agricultural chemicals, it resulted in a negative image of our products.
Through about 40 years of marketing activities deeply rooted in local communities, more than 300 local sales and promotion personnel have provided education in a variety of forms to show consumers that, unlike agricultural chemicals, insecticides are made safe for household use. We have continued to emphasize that these are safe, secure products, and now we are the No. 2 maker in the Thai market, holding an 11.5% share of the insecticide market. In recent years, an increasing number of people have contracted dengue fever, not only in Thailand, but in other Southeast Asian countries as well. Dengue fever infections have been reported in more than 120 countries around the world, including Japan, the U.S., and France, in part from infections originating in Southeast Asia.
Earth Corporation and Earth (Thailand) Co., Ltd. have adopted SDG Goal 3–“Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”–as a common goal. To contribute to meeting SDG Target 3.3–End epidemics such as malaria and neglected tropical diseases by 2030–we will strive to disseminate correct knowledge to prevent mosquito-borne infections through sales and social contribution activities in collaboration with the Thai Public Health Bureau and the Ministry of Education.
Initiatives aimed at controlling dengue fever in Vietnam
The World Mosquito Program (WMP) is a non-profit initiative established by researchers at Monash University in Australia to protect people throughout the world from infectious diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. WMP uses a bacteria called Wolbachia in activities aimed at reducing the number of persons infected by mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever, Zika fiver, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Earth Corporation has supported WMP’s dengue fever prevention programs in Vietnam (in Thu Dau Mot, Binh Duong province), since 2021. Earth and WMP share the same goals, and collaborate in achieving SDGs.