Message 
The present day is said to be the gAge of Emerging Viruses.h The World Health Organization (WHO) confirms that more than 30 new viruses have emerged in the past 20 years. A lot of biological agents have been taken up by mass media as emerging pathogens, including HIV virus, MRSA bacteria, pathogenic E. coli O157 and prions. And they have caused immense harm to humans. There is an influential theory asserting that recombinant DNA technology can be regarded as having something to do with the recent emergence of pathogens, and so some people are concerned about the danger of unknown biohazards caused by biotechnology. 
Of course, it is necessary to research these infectious pathogens and methods for preventing and curing diseases caused by them, but there is a new dilemma: research institutes conducting experiments with these pathogens are likely to become a source of biohazards. Accordingly, WHO published the international standards for safety measures to be taken by biomedical laboratories and went so far as to recommend that these laboratories be sited away from residential areas and public facilities. Also in Western countries, legal regulation against biomedical institutes and experiments has been strengthened. 
In Japan, however, there are no laws or regulations providing requirements on the proper location of biomedical laboratories in terms of environmental protection and safety measures inside these laboratories. Consequently, a large laboratory was set up in a densely populated area such as Wesada district, Shinjiku Ward in Tokyo, and biomedical research is being done there on the largest scale in Japan. This laboratory is the Japanese National Institute of Health (JNIH), which was renamed National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) in 1997 after having transferred to its present site from Meguro Ward in Tokyo. Furthermore, the plan has emerged to set up a BSL4 hospital ward for patients infected with such dangerous diseases as Ebola, Marburg fever and Lassa fever within a stonefs throw of this laboratory. If this situation is left as it is, we cannot deny the danger that the release of pathogens from these facilities may cause unknown infectious diseases to residents and some other people in the country and that these diseases may spread all over the country and the world. 
Under these circumstances, we must consider comprehensively how to protect not only our own lives and rights but those of future generations, and cope properly with the possible harm to our lives and the infringement upon our rights. In the face of a new wave of biotechnology surging toward us, I sincerely hope that a lot of people will agree with our aim and take a solidary action.   
Shigeo Honjo
President & Founder, Citizenfs Center for Biohazard Prevention
D. V. M., Ph.D
Honorary Member, National Institute of Infectious Diseases

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