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Japanese Scientists Sign Petition Endorsing Agricultural Biotechnology

Contact: Dr.C.S. Prakash at prakash@tuskegee.edu

As world leaders at the G-8 summit in Okinowa consider the issue of biotechnology, leading Japanese scientists have joined the growing global consensus of support for agriculture biotechology. Six Japanese professors have joined more than 2,800 other scientists -- including three Nobel Prize winners -- by signing a petition in support of agricultural biotechnology.

Professors Tatsuhito Fujimura of the University of Tsukuba, Atsushi Komamine and Kazuhiko Nishitani of Tohoku University, Shunnosuke Abe of Ehime University, Yasuo Hotta of Aichi Shukutoku University and Takeshi Uozumi of Meiji University added their names to the list because "it is important to assure consumers, farmers, food producers and retailers that the scientific community stands firmly behind this safe and tested method of improving food and agriculture."

Other notable signers include, among others, Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize winner and father of the Green Revolution; James Watson, Nobel Prize winner and co-discoverer of DNA's construction; and Paul Boyer, winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

The petition, which can be seen via the internet at http://www.agbioworld.org, states that "biotechnology can address environmental degradation, hunger, and poverty in the developing world by providing improved agricultural productivity and greater nutritional security." Dr. C.S. Prakash, founder of AgBioWorld, added that "there is no scientific reason to believe that genetically-engineered foods are any less safe than the foods we've been eating for centuries. Consequently, we in the scientific community have felt a need to debunk many of the myths surrounding the technology."

These sentiments were recently echoed by the Royal Society of London, the US National Academy of Sciences, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy, the Mexican of Sciences and the Third World Academy of Sciences in a report entitled "Transgenic Plants And World Agriculture" (http://books.nap.edu/html/transgenic). The report concluded that genetic engineering "should be used to increase the production of main food staples, improve the efficiency of production, reduce the environmental impact of agriculture, and provide access to food for small-scale farmers."

Dr. Prakash applauded his Japanese colleagues and other Japanese scientists who are "doing important research and are making great contributions to agriculture, the environment and human health." He also expressed hope that G-8 policy-makers "will not sacrifice this safe and promising technology."