Recently, many genetically modified (GM) crops are developed and utilized
rapidly with the progress of biotechnology. Public acceptance of the cultivation
of GM crops depends on its assessment of not only the safety of foods and feeds,
but also various risks to the ecosystem. Moreover, various types of genes, including
the gene resistant to environmental stress, will be transferred into major crops
in future. So there are many research subjects to be evaluated on the risk assessment
of GM crops.
The symposium, "Ecological Risk Assessment of Genetically Modified Crops"
organized by NIAES was held in Tsukuba on November 20, 2000. Following an opening
address given by NIAES Director General, 7 speakers presented topics in terms
of the ecological risk assessment from viewpoints of various research fields.
Approximately 200 individuals including other research institutions, universities
and private sectors participated in the symposium.
Participants exchanged information and discussed mainly the results of the
urgent investigation on the risk of Bacillus thuingiensis (Bt) corn pollen
to non-target butterflies conducted by NIAES, especially 1) the method for the
bioassay to detect toxicity of Bt corn pollen to butterflies, 2) the scale effect
of the corn fields on the pollen dispersal, and 3) the risk assessment of new
GM organisms endowed with the various functions to improve environments. The
proceedings of the symposium will be published as the NIAES Research Series.
FACE is the acronym of "free-air CO2
is an experimental technique to study terrestrial ecosystems under elevated
concentration. In FACE, CO2
into the open air to raise the CO2
concentration around a plant canopy
without any enclosures, such as plastic covers. FACE enables studies of intact
ecosystems under elevated CO2
concentration, whereas studies with
other methods can only be done on ecosystems detached and placed in the enclosures,
such as greenhouses or controlled chambers. Due to this clear advantage of FACE
over the enclosure methods, there are increasing number of FACE experiments
set up in various ecosystems around the world. An overview of the FACE and related
studies are given in Norby et al
, and a list of the FACE projects
is posted at the URL: http://public.ornl.gov/face/index.shtml (URL was moved May, 2011)
To review technological and scientific advances of the FACE projects around
the world, we held the FACE 2000 international conference at the Tsukuba International
Congress Center from June 27 to 30, 2000. The conference was planned to coincide
with the final year of the Rice FACE project, which was conducted from 1996
through 2000 under the CREST (Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology)
scheme of Japan Science and Technology Corporation (JST). Preceding the conference,
the participants visited the FACE site in Shizukuishi, Iwate Prefecture,
and observed the on-going FACE experiment of its final season (
to the conference was given by JST, NIAES and other research organizations.
Major topics of the conference included FACE technologies, responses of various
types of vegetation and ecosystems to increasing atmospheric CO2,
and integration across the vegetation types as well as process-based modeling
of the vegetation responses. The conference had participants from 14 out of
17 FACE projects around the world, and the participants numbered 107 in all,
of which 72 were from Japan, 16 from the USA, 6 from Australia, and 1-2 each
from 11 countries in Europe, Asia and South America. Among the FACE projects
represented in the conference, the FACE in Arizona, USA and Shizukuishi, Japan
studied annual crops (wheat and rice, respectively), those in Switzerland and
New Zealand conduced FACE on pastures, and the US FACEs except that in Arizona
studied trees and natural vegetation. With the annual crops, a FACE experiment
can easily cover a whole life cycle of the crop species, whereas, with perennial
species such as trees, a few years of FACE covers only a fraction of the life
span of the plant species. The FACE results should therefore be interpreted
differently among the experiments with different species and ecosystems. There
are, however, common features, such as stimulated photosynthesis, in the plant
and ecosystems in their responses to elevated CO2 concentration.
To address both differences and similarities between ecosystems, the FACE 2000
Conference had sessions by vegetation types and sessions for synthesizing across
them. In the former sessions, findings in FACE were reported and discussed within
each vegetation type, whereas, in the latter ones, the FACE findings in various
vegetation types were synthesized by each aspect of the ecosystem responses,
such as photosynthesis and water relations.
The FACE 2000 Conference inspired communications among the FACE projects
around the world, and led to the publication of the special issue, "Rising
CO2- future ecosystems", of an international journal, New Phytologist
(Vol. 150, No. 2), whose cover page shows the FACE site in Shizukuishi.
Many papers in the volume were the outcomes of the conference. As another outcome
of the conference, a review of the FACE results on agricultural crops will be
published in Advances in Agronomy (Kimball et al., 2002)2). The conference was
thus very much productive.
1) Norby, Richard J., Kazuhiko Kobayashi, K., Bruce.A. Kimball (2001). Rising
- future ecosystems. New Phytologist
2) Kimball, Bruce A., Kazuhiko Kobayashi, Marco Bindi (2002). Responses of agricultural
crops to free-air CO2
enrichment. Advances in Agronomy (in press)