Category Archives: ISAAA

Hokkaido Bio Summit: Declaration on Agricultural Biotechnology

Published at September 18, 2008 Categry:ISAAA

With the worlds’ dire prediction on world hunger and poverty, global warming, and inaccessibility of food and fuels in the next 25 year, urgent measures should be put in place to reduce if not totally diminish these world problems. Organizers and Co-organizers and supporting organization as listed in the last page strive to enlighten target stakeholders in Japan on these issues by giving clear views on current status and recommendations to alleviate the problem.

Japan ranks as the world’s ninth most populous nation with a population of approximately 128 million people, an average population density of 340 persons per sq km, (the highest in the world) and a total land area of only 377,835 sq km. Japan imports 60% of its food: corn, soybean, other foods and feeds. Domestic food supply has been going downhill since 1960 and is estimated to be 36% of the total food supply in 2008.

Japan is the 4th highest consumer of crude oil for transportation due to the doubling of the global road transport and the vehicle fleet in the last 25 years, in addition to air, rail, tramway/metro and waterway transport. According to Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association’s (JAMA) record of 2006, there are 70 million automobiles in Japan with fuel consumption of 60 million kilo liters. The sharp increases in crude oil prices which started in 1999 to 2004 and currently is more than $100 per barrel would mean a tremendous drain in Japan’s monetary reserves.

The almost doubling of the worldwide energy consumption in the last century has also immensely increased air pollutants. Harmful emissions are released throughout the entire energy development activities; upstream emissions during fossil fuel extraction and production to end-use emissions from fossil fuels burned for transport, heating, cooking and the like. A wide range of gaseous and particulate compounds have adverse impacts and can be considered air pollutants including particulate matter (PM), tropospheric (surface) ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), harmful levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), organic compounds and metals that can penetrate deeper into the human lung and do more health damage.  The increasing worldwide fossil fuel demand and the consequent environmental and health impact would be realized between the mid and late 21st century.   

Production and utilization of biotech products in Japan is one of the possible solutions in meeting these challenges. It can bring a most positive impact in increasing food production in the midst of shrinking agricultural area; in cleaning the environment through phytoremediation; and in reducing CO2 emission through the use of renewable energy sources, utilizing biotech crops as feedstocks.

It is noteworthy that the number of approvals for planting, food and feed, and environment in Japan was listed as the highest in the 2007 Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops. However, biotech crop regulations in Japan range from none to very strict, hampering the implementation of the said approvals.

Japan is considered as Asia’s leader in research and development in molecular biology and biotechnology. Top universities produce high quality experts that can be tapped in many endeavours towards the improvement of Japanese and Asian agriculture. A number of biotech products are already in the pipeline including allergen-free rice and peanut, high iron rice, and others, but commercialization and its utilization by the public is still a problem. Currently, scientific issues and concerns on biotechnology in Japan often are converged with politics, economics, ethics, culture and societal considerations, hampering biotechnology adoption.  This situation is intensified by a growing campaign by some international anti-biotech organizations to sow misinformation in the mass media and create misunderstanding and fear among the public.

In order for Japan to make a positive impact towards the alleviation of the existing global problems, the Bio-Summit declares that:

  1. Biotechnology offers the solution for Japanese agricultural problems. It is thus recommended that there be a rapid development and utilization of biotechnology and genetically-modified organisms in increasing the productivity of agricultural lands, in controlling pest and diseases, in developing new consumable products, and in tapping renewable energy source 
  2. Establish a Biotechnology Regulatory arm that will oversee biotechnology policy and regulations
  3. Improve the Biotechnology Policy in Japan that will give free hand to farmers on their farming preferences. 
  4. Strengthen the biotechnology awareness building strategies that would encourage and improve public participation in the decision-making process on biotechnology-related issues.
  5. Support biotechnology awareness program by established private and public sectors to increase biotechnology perception in the country.

June 30, 2008

NPO Hokkaido Bio-Industry Association (HOBIA)

Japanese Society of Breeding

The Botanical Society of Japan

Japanese Society for Environmental Biotechnology

The Molecular Biology Society of Japan

The Society for Biotechnology Japan

The Japanese Society for Food Science and Technology

The Japan Bio-Industry Association

NPO Kinki Bio-Industry Development Organization

International Service for Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications

Life Bio Plaza21

Bio-Crop Association