World Rainforest Movement

Japan – WRM information sheet on GE tree research

 WRM information sheets on GE tree research

First posted: 1 August 2008
Last update: July 2014

Tree species being manipulated:

  • Eucalyptus (1) (3) (10)
  • Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) (4)
  • Poplar (3) (10)
  • Acacia mangium and Sengon (Paraserianthes falcataria) planted in Indonesia (see JSPS-LIPI below) (2)

Aim of genetic manipulation

  • salt-tolerant eucalyptus (1) (3) (10)
  • acidic soil tolerant eucalyptus (3) (10)
  • male sterility in Japanese cedar to avoid pollen-related allergies (4)
  • reduced lignin content (3)
  • increased CO2 fixation by trees (carried out by JSPS-LIPI –see below) (2)
  • cold-tolerance (eucalyptus) (5)
  • increased quality and quantity of biomass (10)
  • increased disease resistance (10)

Those carrying out the research:

  • Nippon Paper Industries, jointly with University of Tsukuba (eucalyptus) (1) (3)
  • Oji Paper’s Forestry Research Institute (eucalyptus) (3) in collaboration with Gifu University
  • Forest Experiment Station, Toyama Forestry and Forest Products Research Center (4)and Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute (Japanese cedar and other trees) (9)
  • RIKEN, one of the main private but state-funded research centers of Japan, and its cellulose production research team to produce ´super trees´ with poplar and eucalyptus (10)
  • Utsunomiya University
  • RISH, Kyoto University
  • Nagoya University
  • Tokyo University
  • Shimane University

The above mentioned five universities participate in the JSPS-LIPI Core University Program in the Field of Wood Science carried out by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences (JSPS) and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) (2)

Those who provide support to research:

Field trials:

In Japan, a survey from 2013 registered 9 field trials that have been carried out, 7 with eucalyptus and 2 with poplar (7):

  • at the University of Tsukuba’s Gene Research Center (eucalyptus) (6), the most recent one a trial that is on-going (2013-2017) with cold-tolerant eucayptus (8)
  • Oji Paper’s Forestry Research Institute in Kameyama, Mie Prefecture (eucalyptus)

Outside Japan (but Japanese-led) initiatives undertaken were:

  • Oji Paper estabished a field trial of GM eucalyptus in Vietnam from 1998 to 2001 (3). According to the RIKEN research institute, new field tests will be carried out with Nanjing Forest Institute of China and with the Forest Science Institute of Vietnam, the latter in collaboration again with Oji Paper. (10)
  • The Japanese-led JSPS-LIPI project produced 750 GE Acacia mangium and 400 GE Sengon trees in Indonesia. Some 130 Mangium and 30 Sengon trees are being kept at the Serpong Botanical Garden. The whereabouts of the other seedlings is unknown. (1)

Regulatory framework for research and field trials:

The Japanese authorities provide information on the activities and procedures implemented to manage risk

Organizations opposing GE trees:

Sources:

  1. http://gmopundit.blogspot.com/2005/11/japanese-push-ahead-on-eucalypt.html
  2. http://www.rish.kyoto-u.ac.jp/newsletters/newsletter_no_017.pdf
  3. http://chrislang.org/2004/12/20/genetically-modified-trees-chapter-3/#Nippon
  4. http://www.springerlink.com/content/m8m674t841578314/
  5. http://www.gene.tsukuba.ac.jp/documents/leaflet_en_000.pdf
  6. http://www.bch.biodic.go.jp/english/e_index.html
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3823068/#b55
  8. http://www.bch.biodic.go.jp/english/e_index.html
  9. http://www.ffpri.affrc.go.jp/en/pubs/documents/overview.pdf
  10. http://www.riken.jp/bmep/teams/cellulose_production/index_en.html