Attitudes to Genetic Engineering

Japanese and International Comparisons

Darryl R. J. Macer, Ph.D. Eubios Ethics Institute 1992

Copyright1992, Darryl R. J. Macer. All commercial rights reserved. This publication may be reproduced for limited educational or academic use, however please enquire with the author.


page vii-viii in Attitudes to Genetic Engineering: Japanese and International Comparisons D.R.J. Macer (Eubios Ethics Institute, 1992).

This book aims to contribute to the ongoing discussion of bioethics. Bioethics should be viewed as the study of ethical issues arising from human involvement with life. Genetic technology is applicable to all organisms therefore agricultural, industrial and medical applications are discussed in this book. It appears that people can separate eugenic extremes of past applications of genetics from the use of genetic engineering in plant breeding. However, protection of the ecosystem and environment is crucial, and we must introduce technology which is sustainable.

This book is addressed to all people interested in these issues. There is a special message for people in Japan, particularly to the policy makers and scientists that they may open their doors to public involvement, to whom I would like to quote from one of the public respondents, who wrote:

This report should also be useful internationally, as a study on the way genetic engineering and biotechnology is perceived, with discussion of some of the key issues that arise. The book has been written with a recent bibliography, but for detailed references readers are referred to a previous work, Shaping Genes and to the ongoing bimonthly Eubios Ethics Institute Newsletter, which provides up-to-date references on the progress in the areas discussed.

I would like to thank many people for supporting this work, particularly all the respondents to the questionnaires (nearly 1700 people), especially those who provided such interesting and varied comments. A few comments are reproduced in this book, many others will continue to be examined. I thank the University of Tsukuba for providing Ministry of Education, Science and Culture funds to cover the principle costs of conducting the opinion surveys.

Many people helped in this project, and I cannot list all. For the translation of questions and comments on the questionnaire design I thank Prof Hiroshi Harada, Dr Yuzuru Oguma, Prof Humitake Seki, Dr Yasuko Shirai and Dr Tadashi Takemori. For preparation and mailing of the questionnaires I thank Ms Ayako Beppu, Ms Yoko Takenaka, Ms Ayumi Okada, Mr Yasushi Okayama and Dr Yuzuru Oguma. Additionally, also for delivery of questionnaires I thank Mrs Reiko Kato, Ms Yuri Kikuchi, Ms Chiyoko Okamura, Dr Yoh Sasaki, Mrs Kazuko Sugiyama, Ms Kyoko Toda, Ms Akane Tonegawa, Ms Keiko Torii, Ms Eiko Yama, in addition to the help of others who also interviewed members of the public. For help with the statistical programs I thank Dr Shinichi Ishikawa, and for use of computer facilities I thank Prof. Tamio Hirabayashi.

The comments made in the questionnaires were generally in Japanese, which required the aid of numerous translators, who gave time to aid this research. For the translation of the comments of the questionnaires I especially thank Ms Yukako Asano, Ms Ayako Beppu, Mr Kiyoshi Habiro, and Mrs Fusako Kobayashi. Additionally I thank Ms. Ritsuko Imai, Ms. Rumiko Kaku, Mr Gaku Masuhara, Ms Ayumi Okada, Mr Yasushi Okayama, Ms Yoko Sakaki and Ms Akane Tonegawa. I also thank Ms Yukako Asano, Ms Ayako Beppu, Ms Ayumi Okada and Ms Michiko Komatsu for help in the preparation of the Japanese text.

This book is bilingual, with the hope that many people can read it in Japanese as well as in English. The Japanese translation was done by Ms Kazumi Inagaki, to whom special thanks are due. In order to advance the publication date, the translation was made quickly and concurrently with the writing of the book, which required patience as the draft was revised. One of the best tests of writing is to have it translated, when many ambiguities can be revealed.

We also thank Prof. Hiroshi Harada, Dr Tadashi Takemori and Nobuko Macer for translation of parts of the book, and for critically reading the complete text and improving the translation. Special thanks go to Prof. Hiroshi Harada and Dr. Yuzuru Oguma for numerous comments made throughout the project, including comments and suggestions on the text.

I wish to thank the other people who provided me with important information, without whose help this work would have been diminished. I thank Mr Isamu Yasuhara for his usual efficient and precise typesetting, and for printing arrangements. Above all I thank the patient work and dedication of Nobuko, my wife, for the months spent at every stage from the beginning to end of this project. We always thank the encouragement of our parents.

I am responsible for all the inadequacies of this book, and look forward to receiving criticism of it. I would appreciate any feedback and criticism of this work, as consideration of these issues require continued development and discussion. I hope that the statistics are used by others with a clear conscience, and are not taken out of context. It is especially hoped that parts of this approach can be applied to other people's of the world, to examine their attitudes and to develop universally applicable approaches to bioethics and guidelines for the safe, effective and ethical introduction of biotechnology and genetic engineering.

Darryl Macer
Institute of Biological Sciences
University of Tsukuba
Tsukuba Science City 305
April 1992

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