Global Environment

National Action Plan for Agenda 21 -Chap. 16

[Agenda 21] National Action Plan for Agenda 21

Chapter 16 ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND MANAGEMENT OF BIOTECHNOLOGY

A) Increasing the Availability of Food, Feed and Renewable Raw Material

In order to increase the availability of food, feed and renewable raw material, Japan has been trying to increase availability applying biotechnology, in, for example, the below-mentioned fields. Japan will further continue to conduct these activities in each field, as indicated in the examples given below. In addition, it will continue to involve itself in the spread of the results of these activities in various fields, and to promote international cooperation in regards to the said results.

(1)
As regards crops, Japan will make efforts to increase productivity by developing varieties which are highly productive or resistant to disease and pests, as well as to increase productivity by such means as expanding the land area where crops can be planted, through the development of salinity tolerant cultivates, cold-resistant cultivates and drought-resistant cultivates. Besides productivity, the nutritional composition of crops will also be improved by such means.
(2)
As regards livestock, Japan will make efforts to increase production amounts and to enhance quality through breed improvement and the practical application of breeding technology.
(3)
As regards forest products, Japan will make efforts to increase production, to improve quality, and to improve various kinds of resistance by applying breeding technology to trees and non-wood forest products such as mushrooms.
(4)
As regards aquatic products, Japan will make efforts to increase the production and to improve the quality of cultivated products through enhancement of the productivity of superior seeds and seedlings by means of breeding technology.
(5)
As regards microorganisms, Japan will make efforts to promote the production of vaccines for human beings and livestock, and materials like enzymes that are useful for the production of food.

16-B) Improving Human Health

Biotechnology is used as an effective means of developing medical products, etc. involving the clarification of mechanisms of diseases, investigations and mass production of physiological activating substances. In Japan, various biotechnology-derived drugs have been developed and are in practical use for treatment of patients.

As research and development for medical products are being conducted vigorously in use of biotechnology, it is predicted that more and more biotechnology-derived medical products will be used in future.

Although laboratory animals such as mice and rats cannot be used in developing drugs to treat diseases that affect only primates, incorporation of genes will make it possible to induce human diseases in these animals, which will contribute to the development of drugs.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
In order to link findings from the most recent scholarly studies to the development of medical supplies, Japan will continue to provide assistance for basic research regarding biotechnology.
(2)
Promoting the breeding of disease-resistant and pest-resistant crops

By applying biotechnology to breeding, it has become possible to realize crops that are disease-resistant and pest-resistant, and this has contributed to improvements in the health management of workers involved in these activities resulting from the decrease in the amounts of chemicals used during the growing period of crops.

16-C) Enhancing Protection of the Environment

In the field of environmental conservation, biotechnology is used in technology to reduce environmental pollutants which come from the various sources (pollution abatement technology), technology for the cleaning up and removal of pollutants in the environment (environmental purification technology), technology for measuring and assessing conditions of environmental pollution (environmental measurement technology), technology for products and manufacturing which does not cause pollution or else imposes less environmental load (environmentally sound technology), and reforestation technology, and these uses are expected to be further developed in the future.

In Japan, biotechnology is already being widely used in such areas as wastewater treatment and there are new wastewater treatment systems in operation that make use of bioreactors of enzymes and microorganisms. In addition, research and development is being conducted on the fixation of carbon dioxide and the production of biodegradable plastic as applications of biotechnology.

Ensuring appropriate safety, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
development and use of treatment technology for persistent chemical substances, using microorganisms
(2)
development and use of technology for the more environmentally sound disposal and recycling of waste
(3)
development and use of production processes and products which impose less environmental load.

16-D) Enhancing Safety and Developing International Mechanisms for Cooperation

Biotechnology, which is expected to make a great contribution to the welfare of mankind, is an important technology that should be steadily developed. Japan has taken scientifically appropriate measures and a case-by-case and step-by-step approach to conduct recombinant DNA (rDNA) research, while taking maximum account of potential risks of research at each of the various stages, until sufficient knowledge has been accumulated. This caution is warranted because the application of rDNA technology, among the different kinds of biotechnology, has the possibility to create new gene combinations that have not previously existed in nature. However, as the scientific knowledge thus far accumulated has made clear, the initial imaginary risks of rDNA technology were too exaggerated, and Japan has gradually relaxed these measures

On the basis of several rDNA guidelines established by the governmental ministries and agencies, research and industrial application of rDNA has been conducted, and so far there have been no cases of environmental problems due to the development or use of biotechnology, including rDNA technology.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
In order to promote international harmonization as regards these guidelines, Japan will participate in discussion among experts at international agencies and exchange information there.

16-E) Establishing Enabling Mechanisms for the Development and the Environmentally Sound Application of Biotechnology

At national, regional and international levels, Japan will promote the development and application of biotechnology to achieve sustainable development.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
Japan will provide assistance for the research and development of biotechnology, promote the enhancement of the understanding and awareness of the general public as regards biotechnology, and provide assistance for creating an environment to promote the investment, related industrial improvement, distribution and sales of biotechnology.
(2)
In addition to promoting contribution to such international activities as the holding of international symposiums, because efforts to improve capabilities to deal with biotechnology are necessary for the development and application of biotechnology particularly in developing countries, Japan will promote financial cooperation and technology transfer, through official development assistance, etc. for the purpose of improving the training abilities, expertise, research and development facilities, and financial resources in developing countries.
(3)
In view of the necessity for the development of human resources, in addition to promoting human resource development programs on various levels, including those for training engineers and promoting incentive among scholars, Japan will also intensify information exchange and make information easily accessible, by means of workshops, symposiums and similar activities.

Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan

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