Research Activities

Dr. Hisano, Shuji
  • Professor, International Political Economy of Food and Agriculture
  • Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University
  • Yoshida-hommachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan
  • Tel: 075-753-3451, Fax: 075-753-3492
Granted Research Projects, Completed
  • 1996-1998: A study on agricultural seed systems in Japan and the recent trend of biotechnology R&D (Funded by the Hokkaido Agricultural Products Association)
Hisano, S. 1998. "A Study of Structures and Functions of Japanese Seed System: The Case of Vegetable Seed." The Review of Agricultural Economics, 54: 21-37.
Hisano, S. 1999. "The Japanese Rice Seed Market under the 1986 Main Crop Seed Law and Agribusiness Strategies." The Review of Agricultural Economics, 55: 73-85.
Hisano, S. 1998. Structures and Development of Japanese Seed System. Hokkaido Agricultural Products Association.
Hisano, S. 2000. "Rice Seed System and Rice Genome Project in Japan." A presentation for the World Citizen Summit on GM Foods, Tokyo: Japan, July 15. --> Handout (figures and tables made in English)
  • 1996-1998: A cross-national study on the agro-food system and the restructuring of agricultural policy under the transition to the WTO regime (Collaborative research funded by the MoE's Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research: Scientific Research (B), Project leader: Prof. I. Nakano, Kyoto University)
Hisano, S. 1999. "Multinationals' strategy on biotechnology and 'farmers' benefit'." 2001 Fora, No.41,42, and 43.
  • 1997-1999: A cross-product study on the suply-demand adjustment policy of agricultural produces under the restructuring of price policy in Japan (Collaborative research funded by the MoE's Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research: Scientific Research (B), Project leader: Prof. T. Mishima, Hokkaido University)
Hisano, S. 1999. "Trends of Japanese Soybean Market and New Movement of Farmers-Consumers Alignment." Journal of Rural Economics, Special Issue 1999: 284-289.
  • 1998-1999: Private Corporations and the Future of East Asian Food and Agricultural Systems (Collaborative research funded by The Toyota Foundation, Project leader: Dr. Raymond A. Jussaume Jr., Washington State University)
Trade in agri-food products has become increasingly competitive in Asia. This process has contributed to an increase in Direct Investments in Asian countries by firms based in Japan and elsewhere. This shift reflects the changing conditions of food production in that part of the world. The proposed research will analyze these shifting patterns of agri-food production in Asia by investigating what these changes mean for the 1) competitiveness of agri-food processing firms that invest in Asian countries, 2) sustainability of Asian foodways, and 3) environmental and socio economic sustainability of affected communities.

Background and Aims of the Research Project:
The recent dynamic economic expansion of the East and Southeast Asian economies has been accompanied by a surge in agri-food trade in the region. Within this context, competition in agri-food production and trade also has grown. New food consumption patterns are evolving, including the expression of niche markets for a variety of exotic and ethnic foods, including those of local and foreign origin. The expansion of these specialty markets has encouraged widespread flexible production of agri-food products, frequently by non-local firms, that have responded to expanding opportunities for direct investment in Asian countries. However, although recent research has begun to document some of the trends in agri-food trade and investment in the region, the effects of these changes on 1) how agricultural commodites are produced in areas that are sites for foreign investments and, 2) local food consumption patterns, have not been investigated. These are key conceptual issues that require extensive empirical study. It concerns whether, and to what extent, internationalization of agri-food systems embodies global standardization, or a more subtle variation in the structure of local agricultures and social diets that incorporates regional and cultural influences along with international ones. The examination of these issues is the central goal of our project. A key aspect of this pattern of change is the role of Japanese and other Asian based firms in promoting new methods of agricultural production, food processing, and patterns of food consumption throughout the Asian region. Until recently, most Japanese agribusiness firms had only a modest interest in overseas investment, and most of the investments that were made were focused primarily on sourcing supplies of agricultural commodities for re-export to Japan. This began to change in the 1980s as Japanese food processing firms, buoyed by an increasingly powerful yen, liberalization of agri-food import restrictions, steady growth in domestic profits, and attracted by lower food and labor costs overseas, began to establish a strong presence in a variety of countries around the Pacific Rim. Clearly, the increased level of activity in Asian countries by Japanese firms will have wide ranging impacts on the lives of families who produce agricultural commodities, on local environments and culture, on local foodways, and on community structures. Our objective is to begin the process of empirically isolating these impacts. In particular, we hope to be able to test the hypothesis that Japanese and other Asian based agribusinesses are more willing to target culturally specific niche markets for food products, and promote the proudction of traditional agricultural commodities, than European or U.S. firms.

Preliminary Investigations into the Local Impacts of East Asian Agri-food Restructuring (Jussaume Jr.,R.A.*, Hisano,S., Kim,C.K., McMichael,P., Otsuka,S., Taniguchi,Y., Zhibin,L.:10th World Congress of Rural Sociology, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1 August 2000) or Toyota.pdf
  • 1999-2000: Political economy of agricultural biotechnology: focusing on the system of R&D and its diffusion, and the negotiating process of conflicting interests (Funded by the JSPS's Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research programme)
Hisano, S. 2000. "Socio-economic Impact Assessment of Genetically Modified Crops: Critical Review of the Legitimacy of Agricultural Biotechnology Development." The Review of Agricultural Economics, 56: 1-26.
Hisano, S. 2000. "Critical Review of the Legitimacy of GMO Development: Can <appropriate biotechnology> help the poor?" Journal of Japanese Scientists, 35(5): 33-37.
Hisano, S. 2001. "Life Science from the Viewpoint of Agriculture and Food," and Fukuda K, Hisano S, and Hino S. "A Round-table Discussion on the Development of Life Science and the Future of Human Society." Keizai, 66: 14-35.
Hisano S. 2001. "Political Economy of GMOs." A paper presented at the Symposium of the Agricultural Economics Society of Japan (co-sponsored by Science Council of Japan), 1 April: Ehime University.
Partly based on this project, I finished my dissertation in July 2001, titled "Political Economy of Agricultural Biotechnology: Focusing on the Process of R&D and Commercialization" (Hokkaido University) and published as a book titled: Agribusiness and GM Crops: Political Economy Approach, Tokyo: Nihonkeizaihyoron-sha, 2002.
  • 2001-2002: A cross-national study on the system of soybean production, distribution, and consumption and the impact of GMOs (Funded by the JSPS's Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research programme)
Altoe, S.M. and Hisano, S. 2001. "Soybean Production and GMO Issues in Brazil" The Review of Agricultural Economics, 57: 135-155.
Hisano, S. and Altoe, S.M. 2002. "Brazilian Farmers at a Crossroad: Biotech Industrialization of Agriculture, or New Alternatives for Small Family Farmers?" A paper presented at the 3rd International Congress of European Latinamericanists, 3-6 July: University of Amsterdam
Hisano, S. and Altoe, S.M. 2002. "Beyond the GMO Discourse: Reformation of Institutional Science and Technology in Southern Brazil." A paper presented at the IDS Conference: Science and Citizenship in a Global Context, 12-13 December: Sussex University..........Part 1, Part 2
  • 2002-2004: Interdisciplinary Study of Socio-economic Factors Affecting the Process of R&D and Diffusion of Agricultural Science and Technology (Funded by The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, or JSPS)
1. Participating in the interdisciplinary research project, education,and workshops: focusing on the interaction of society and agrarian technology (esp. agri-biotechnology)
(1) Introduction Agro-ecological Technology Studies (Lecturers: Harro Maat, Paul Richards, Guido Ruivenkamp, Kees Jansen,and Conny Almekinders, provided for MSc students of "Management ofAgro-ecological Knowledge and Social Change"; Department of SocialSciences, September-October 2002, Wageningen University)
(2) Critical Reflection on Science/Technology, Values and Sustainability (Lectuerer: Prof.dr. Michiel Korthals, Applied Philosophy, provided for PhD students of "Mansholt Graduate School of Social Sciences", October 29-December 3, 2002, Wageningen University)
(3) IDS Conference "Science and Citizenship in a Global Context: Challengesfrom New Technologies" (12-13 December 2002, Institute of DevelopmentStudies, Sussex University, Sussex:UK)
(4) "Who twists the helix?: A trans-disciplinary exploration of the powers that could decide our genetic futures" (the 50th anniversary of the DNA double-helix, March 17-19, 2003, CambridgeUniversity)
(5) Technology, Social Choice, and Development (Lecturer: Kees Jansen, provided for MSc students of "InternationalDevelopment Studies" and "Management of Agro-ecological Knowledgeand Social Change", March-April 2003, Wageningen University)
(6) Innovation & Integration in Biotechnology (Biannual Platform Meetingof Netherlands Biotechnological Society (NBV), April 15, 2003, Wageningen)
(7) Challenges and Risks of GMOs: What risk analysis is appropriate? (Amsterdam Maastricht Summer University, supported by the OECD Co-operativeResearch Programme on Biological Resource Management for Sustainable AgriculturalSystems, July 16-18, 2003, Maastricht: European Institute of Public Administration)
  • My comments on the workshop
  • Papers and Discussions are compiled and published from the OECD (Challenges and Risks of Genetically Engineered Organisms, Biological Resource Management in Agriculture, OECD: Paris, 2004)
(8) Technology and Risk: Public Perception and Social Assessment (OsloSummer School in Comparative Social Science Studies, August 4-8, 2003,Oslo: University of Oslo) ---- cancelled
(9) Towards Efficient Risk Analysis: Development so far and remaining challenges(EIPA Seminar on the European Food Safety Authority, October 20-21, Maastricht:European Institute of Public Administration)
(10) Precaution and Progress: Lessons from the UK GM Crops Dialogue (InnogenCentre Annual Conference, November 13, 2003, Edinburgh)

(11) Food Law(Lecturer: Prof. Bernd van der Meulen, Chairgroup of Law and Governance,provided for MSc students of "Food Safety", November-Devember2003, Wageningen University)

(12) Investigating Knowledge (Lecturers: Dr. Guido Ruivenkamp, Chairgroupof Technology and Agrarian Development, Dr. Noelle Aarts, Chairgroup ofCommunication and Innovation Studies, Prof. Bernd van der Meulen and Dr.Dik Roth, Chairgroup of Law and Governance, provided for MSc students of"International Development, Communication, Technology and Policy-track",January-February 2004, Wageningen University)

(13) European Course on Biotechnology Ethics (Organised by Bio-T-Ethics, which is funded and managed by EC Quality of Life Programme, The EuropeanAssociation for Higher Education in Biotechnology, and University of Genova,20-27 March, Genoa, Italy)
* This course is aimed at Ph.D. students/young researchers of Life Sciencesand Ethics. It fulfils the interdisciplinary requirements for the EuropeanDoctorate in biotechnology. It is designed to provide, through a case-basedapproach, an interactive, interdisciplinary forum of discussion, coveringthe themes of ethical theory and practice, European law on biotechnology,risk and risk perception, social factors in technological development andtechnological practice and politics.
* Bio-T-Ethics is EC-funded and consists of 13 institutes and researchcentres from 10 different European countries. This course will be facilitatedby internationally recognized academics including Wybe Bijker, Franco Celada,Louis-Marie Houdebine, Matthias Kaiser, Julian Kinderlerer, Alex Quintanilha,Carlos Romeo-Casabona, Ray Spier, Ruud Ter Meulen and Jurgen Simon.
(14) TAO/SG Seminars on Governing Biotechnology: Global-National Interactions, March - June 2004, Wageningen University
* This seminar series is organised by TAO group, in which I'm working onmy research projects now in Wageningen, in cooperation with Studium Generale.Kees Jansen, a lecturer of TAO, is a leader of the organising group, supportedby Aarti Guputa (TAO), Shuji Hisano (TAO), and Wiebe Aans (SG). An announcementtext is reading as follows:
* The emergence of biotechnology complicates the 'development question'ever more, with new images of hope and fear multiplying all over the globe.Biotechnology has led to renegotiations over the boundaries between scienceand society, between democracy/participation and research agenda setting,between the public and the private, between experts and lay people, andbetween interantional organisations and national goverments. This seminarseries explores the problem of governance of biotechnology from an internationalperspective. It particularly explores the development of global modelsof biotechnology regulation and their transmittal to and translation orreversal in developing countries. Many biotechnologists have already startedto debate issues of ethics. It is time to expand this debate with socialscience prespectives on international governance, politics, and the socialshaping of science. A key issus is whether and how emerging biotechnologygovernance principles and norms can reproduce or contest existing powerrelations and forms of control, both globally and nationally.
(15) One Day Seminar "Science, Risk and New Possibilities for Development"14 May, Wageningen
* This seminar is organised by CERES (Research School for Resource Studiesfor Development, located at Rural Development Sociology Group of WageningenUniversity) in co-operation with Economic Research Council of the UK.
* This seminar is also organised as a IPAR (Integrated Planning AgainstRisk) seminar series, of which the Centre for Development Studies, Universityof Wales Swansea is in charge.
(16) IAC Training Programme on Sustainable Agricultural Development 2004:Tailor-made Biotechnologies for Endogenous Developments (May 24 - June4, Wageningen UR International Agricultural Centre)
* This course is organised by Guido Ruivenkamp, a senior lecturer of TAO,in which I'm working on my research projects now in Wageningen. Guido iscoordinating several projects such as Tailor-made Biotechnologies NetworkProject" and "Tailoring of Genomics". If you are interestedin these projects, please visit the following website:
(17) Parallel sessions 'Genomics for the poor -- Genomics between prescriptive code and social construction: An analysis of the constraints and possibilities for social choices in genomics for developing countries', Parallel sessions of Genomics Momentum (Genomics for our world), 30 August - 1 September, Rotterdam
* The sessions are organised by Dr Guido Ruivenkamp, TAO at WageningenUR
* My contribution paper (not finished yet): "Critical Observationof Mainstreamers' Commitment to 'Biotechnology for the Poor'"
(18) EurSafe 2004: Science Ethics and Society, 5th Congress of the EuropeanSociety for Agricultural and Food Ethics, September 2-4, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

2. STS-based activities and policies on agricultural biotechnology: European Commission, and the Netherlands

3. The role of OECD and its expertise networks on the international harmonization processes of biotechnology regulation
Recent developments in biotechnology have underscored the importance ofinternational expertise networks in shaping biosafety regulation. Theseexpertise networks generate consensual knowledge, change policy agendas,and standardise and harmonise regulatory models, which in turn necessarilyaffect the national or regional regulatory policies. These networks havebeen organised in a variety of international organisations, such as theCodex Alimentarius Commission (FAO/WHO), the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety(CBD/UNEP), etc. We also need to pay attention to the leading role of OECDactivities over two decades, though its functions are different from thoseof the UN organisations. Since 1982, OECD has undertaken work on biotechnologyregulation through organising expert groups. Among several prominent outcomes,the concepts of "substantial equivalence" and "familiarity"are the most important and influential as a de facto standard in the internationalharmonisation processes. Especially since 1999, when a backlash againstGMOs got increased throughout the world, the priority of OECD's activityon biotechnology has turned to promoting dialogues with non-member countriesas well as civil society. Based on the line of this thought, several internationalconferences have been organised.The objective of this paper is to reveal:historical overviews of OECD activities on biotechnology; how pertinentexpertise networks have been organised; and what kinds of discourses havebeen carried out by the expert groups and how disseminated to other partsof international communities. This paper is also given the role of a preliminarystudy, supposed to be followed by some in-depth interviews with key actorsinvolved to grasp the dynamics in these processes.
Shuji Hisano, "OECD Models for Biotechnology Regulation and BusinessInterests"
(TAO/SG BioTalk Seminar Series #2, Wageningen University and Research Centre: NL, April 20, 2004)

  • 2005-2006: Ethics and Political Economy of GMOs: the process of ethicisation and politicisation of biotechnology risk analysis (The Showa-Shell Sekiyu Foundation for Promotion of Environmental Research)

  • 2005-2007: Integrative Research on Institutional Problems of Agriculture Market and Analytical Models (JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research: Scientific Research(B), Project leader: Prof. S. Tama of Iwate University)

  • 2006: Interdisciplinary Risk Analysis and Ethical, Political and Socio-economic Aspects of Agricultural Biotechnologies (Nomura Foundation for Academic Promotion)

  • 2006-2008: Cross-national Research on Interdisciplinary Integration of Relevant Expertise in Biotechnology Governance (JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research: Encouragement of Young Scientists(A))

  • 2010-2012: Political Economy of the U.N. Governance on Agriculture and Food and the Codes of Conduct of Multinational Agribusinesses (JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C))
    As the business-as-usual approach of the international community has failed to address the world food security challenges, it is now increasingly acknowledged that “the right to food” discourse and approach can be an effective legal and normative tool and framework to shed light on the international human rights obligations of states, international economic institutions and multinational corporations in relation to the rights holders’ predicament. In order to ensure and fulfill the applicability of the human-rights approach, however, we further need to understand the political economy of the regulatory regime of multinational agribusinesses that wield massive power on the agri-food system.

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