Farmers urged to plant flood-tolerant rice

Experts at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) on Monday asked farmers to prepare for the rainy season by using appropriate varieties and technologies in rice farming.

Dr. Norvie Manigbas, head of PhilRice’s Plant Breeding and Biotechnology Division, advised farmers to plant varieties which stand at most 100 centimeters and with strong stems that can withstand 40 to 60 kilometers per hour wind speed.

Examples of these varieties are PSB Rc14, Rc68, NSIC Rc9 and Rc222.

“Rain-fed areas are also prone to flooding. The varieties suited for this condition are PSB Rc18 [Ala], which can withstand five to seven days of complete submergence, NSIC Rc194 [Submarino 1], which can survive, grow and develop even after 10 to 14 days of complete submergence; and PSB Rc68 [Sacobia], a submergence-tolerant and a drought-resistant variety,” Manigbas said.

These varieties have the following maximum yield: 8.1 tonnes per hectares (t/ha) (Rc18); 3.5 t/ha (Rc194); 4.4 t/ha (Rc68); 6.1 t/ha (Rc14); and 10 t/ha (Rc222). They can also recover when submerged during vegetative stage.

“These are the maximum yields that the farmers could get under stressed conditions,” he said.

Additionally, PhilRice also asked farmers to reduce fertilizer application rates. Manigbas said that, while fertilizers are beneficial to plants, in high amounts, they may cause lodging.

“Fertilizers cannot be maximized, as there is a limited amount of sunlight during the rainy season. Depending on soil analysis results and recommended nutrient requirement rates, it is better to reduce fertilizer application rates by 20 percen to 30 percent in wet season,” Manigbas said.

Under rain-fed conditions, Manigbas encouraged farmers to practice synchronous planting in their communities. It reduces incidence of pests and diseases in a specific area, thus, minimizing yield loss.

Dryland preparation is also desired, so farmers can do direct-seeding when the rain comes. With this technique, the seeds will start to germinate within five days.

Under irrigated lowland conditions, Manigbas said land preparation should be done at the onset of heavy rains so that fields are well-soaked in water. Levees and dikes should be repaired to avoid water loss.

Farmers can use the wet bed or dapog method for seed establishment depending on field conditions. PhilRice also suggested proper drainage to avoid flooding, use of machines during land preparation, harvesting, threshing and drying to save time and labor.

“Time is vital during the wet season, especially during harvest. As the rain usually comes in the afternoon, we suggest the use of combine harvester to hasten harvesting operations. If it is unavailable, farmers can use reaper and collect the straws for threshing,” Manigbas said.

He emphasized the importance of finishing field operations in the shortest possible time to prevent yield loss.

PhilRice also recommended the drying of palay in flatbed dryers and on nylon nets or canvas for easier turnover when the rain comes. “The general rule is to harvest and thresh the crop within a short period of time and dry the seeds to a desired moisture content [usually 14 percent],” Manigbas said.

–Written by Mary Grace Padin, BusinessMirror.  See article link here.

Drought reduces Bt maize area, but sector still upbeat

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna, Philippines – Drought reduced the area planted to genetically modified (GM) corn in the country in 2015.

Over the past decade when the country began producing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) maize, the area planted to this pest-resistant and high-yielding crop peaked at 831,000 hectares in 2014.

In 2015, however, drought conditions in the country’s corn-growing regions decreased the area to 702,000 hectares, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

Drought also diminished the number of farmers growing Bt corn, from 415,000 in 2014 to about 350,000 in 2015.

“Maize planting and production in the Philippines were affected by the continuous drought in the country since the first half of 2015,” ISAAA noted in a report titled “20th Anniversary (1996 to 2015) of the Global Commercialization of Biotech Crops and Biotech Crop Highlights in 2015.”

But the corn-growing sector is undeterred by the unfavorable weather-induced temporary setback as it continues to look forward to bright prospects as “homegrown” biotech products are likely to be commercialized in the near future. Their optimism stems from the fact that over the short period of 12 years (2003 when Bt corn growing began in the country to 2014), the Philippines has gained $560 million (about P26.3 billion) from biotech maize.

ISAAA presented the 20-year report at the “2016 Media Conference on the Global Adoption of Biotech Crops” held recently at the Acacia Hotel in Alabang, Muntinlupa City organized by ISAAA and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) based in the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB).

United States-based ISAAA is a non-profit organization sponsored by public and private sector organizations with an international network of centers that contribute to the alleviation of poverty and hunger by sharing knowledge on crop biotechnology applications. One of the network’s units, the ISAAA Southeast Asia Center, is based in Los Baños.

The speakers at the media forum were ISAAA board chair Paul Teng, SEARCA director Gil Saguiguit Jr., Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology program director Vivencio Mamaril, ISAAA global coordinator and SEAsia Center director Randy Hautea, Rhodora Aldemita (also of ISAAA), Eufemio Rasco Jr. of the National Academy of Science and Technology, ASM Mahbubur Rahman Khan and Gour Pada Das, both of Bangladesh.

Since 1996, ISAAA has been publishing an annual report on the global adoption of GM biotech crops with particular emphasis on their impact in developing countries.

SEARCA’s support for this event and many others “is part of our commitment to push for technologies and practices that will address the challenge of feeding a growing population struggling with poverty and hunger amid natural resources threatened by changing extreme climate conditions,” Saguiguit said.

ISAAA also asserted that despite the adverse climate change conditions across the world, farmers – particularly the small, resource-poor ones – have not been deterred from growing biotech crops.

On the whole, it stated, an unprecedented cumulative area of two billion hectares of biotech crops equivalent to twice the land area of the US (937 million hectares) were cultivated globally in up to 28 countries annually, from 1996 to 2015.

“Farmer benefits for 1996 to 2015 were conservatively estimated at over $150 billion,” ISAAA said. Up to more or less 18 million risk-averse, small, and resource-poor farmers (90 percent) in developing countries benefited annually.

The annual global area of biotech crops peaked at 181.5 million hectares in 2014. It increased a hundredfold from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 179.7 million hectares in 2015, “making biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in recent times,” ISAAA stressed.

In the case of the Philippines, it said, the country continues to be in the forefront of biotech research and commercialization in Asia as well as a model for science-based and thorough regulatory policy.

“Biotech maize has been planted since 2003 and the country is gearing up for the possible commercialization of public-private sector collaboration such as Golden Rice, Bt eggplant, virus-resistant papaya, and Bt cotton,” ISAAA said.

In a study, the Filipino farmer-respondents said that they continued to adopt Bt corn because of its high income, pest resistance, good grain quality, available financing, lesser production cost and availability of seeds.

–Written by Rudy Fernandez, The Philippine Star.  See article link here.

GE crops safe for food, environment, scientific review says

MANILA, Philippines – Genetically engineered crops are safe for human consumption and the environment, an independent scientific assessment has concluded.

The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said it has found “no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between currently commercialized genetically engineered (GE) crops and conventionally bred crops.”

No “conclusive cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from the GE crops” has been found, it said.

The findings were released mid-May by the academy, one of the highest independent scientific bodies in the United States, in a report, “Genetically Engineered Crops: Past Experience and Future Prospects” written by its Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Division on Earth and Life Studies.

GE crops are plants whose genetic composition has been altered using biotechnology. Biotechnology includes techniques that precisely cut and insert DNA material in a plant to enhance a trait already carried by the plant or to introduce a gene (or genes) that confer a valuable trait from another plant or organism.

Bt corn is the only GE crop commercialized in the Philippines; about 700,000 hectares are planted to the insect-resistant Bt corn, so called because it contains genes from Bacillus thuringiensis. Bt is a soil bacterium that gives the corn a built-in insecticide that can kill specific insects that ingest them, in this case the corn borer.

In 2015, some 350,000 poor Filipino farmers planted Bt corn, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). The Philippines and Vietnam are the only countries that plant Bt corn in Southeast Asia.

“The US Academy of Sciences report confirms what the mainstream scientific community has been stating,” Paul Teng, ISAAA chairperson, told SciencePhilippines in an email. “There has been a clean record on food and feed safety of these crops when used for food, feed and processing.”

He said the report affirms what ISAAA had reported in April to commemorate the 20 years of commercialization of biotech crops, “that these crops have been safely planted by farmers and have conferred substantial economic benefits to millions of farmers worldwide and additionally benefited the environment by reduced use of insecticides and reduced need to clear new land for agriculture.”

The new report builds on previous academy reports over the last two decades between 1987 and 2010. It is based on more than 900 research and other publications, the opinion of 80 experts at three public meetings and 15 webinars and more than 700 comments from the public.

GE crops and foods derived from them are tested in three ways: animal testing, compositional analysis and allergenicity testing and prediction. Although the design and analysis of many animal-feeding studies were not optimal, the report observed that many available animal experimental studies taken together “provided reasonable evidence that animals were not harmed by eating foods derived from GE crops.”

“Data on the nutrient and chemical composition of a GE plant compared to a similar non-GE variety of the crop sometimes show statistically significant differences in nutrient and chemical composition, but the differences have been considered to fall within the range of naturally occurring variation found in currently available non-GE crops,” the academy said.

It said many people are concerned that GE food consumption may lead to higher incidence of specific health problems including cancer, obesity, gastrointestinal tract illnesses, kidney disease and disorders such as autism spectrum and allergies.

In the absence of long-term, case-controlled studies to examine some hypotheses, the academy examined epidemiological datasets over time from the United States and Canada, where GE food has been consumed since the late 1990s, and similar data sets from the United Kingdom and Western Europe, where GE food is not widely consumed.

“No pattern of differences was found among countries in specific health problems after the introduction of GE foods in the 1990s,” it concluded. – SciencePhilippines

–Published in The Philippine Star.  See article link here.

Fil-Am science group lauds restart of Bt eggplant testing

The Philippine American Academy of Science and Engineering (PAASE) welcomed the prompt continuation of research and development and field-testing of Bt talong (eggplant) in the Philippines, following the government’s enactment of a joint circular on the use of modern biotechnology.

“We commit to working with the Philippine government, universities, and the public, if called for, in providing expert advice and recommendations on the various facets of the development and use of Bt talong in the Philippines,” said Joel Cuello of the University of Arizona.

PAASE is an international organization of scientists and engineers of Philippine descent—based in the Philippines, the United States or elsewhere—who have distinguished themselves in scholarly and research-related activities.

In March, after the Supreme Court issued an injunction in December 2015 against the continued development of Bt talong and temporarily banned new applications for genetically modified organisms, the Department of Agriculture (DA), along with the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); Health (DOH); Science and Technology (DOST); and Interior and Local Government (DILG) crafted a joint department circular that provided guidelines for the propagation and sale of biotechnology seeds in the country.

With the signing of the JDC, PAASE called on Philippine government leaders, farmers, academics, scientists, engineers, the private sector, journalists, students and the general public to acknowledge that the development and field testing of Bt talong is an urgent imperative to provide an effective, safe and sustainable solution to the economically and environmentally ruinous problems currently facing Filipino eggplant farmers.

They also called on the Mobilize the Filipino science and technology community to launch a nationwide educational and extension program to disseminate accurate scientific facts and information on Bt talong, and to combat any misinformation and disinformation on the subject.

PAASE said they are ready to work with Filipino eggplant farmers to build scientific and technical capacity best suited to their circumstances to promote sustainable and cost-effective integrated cultivation management practices.

PAASE Eggplant, the leading vegetable crop in the country in terms of both volume and area of production, is a valuable source of income for Filipino farmers. Eggplant production in the Philippines covers approximately 22,000 hectares, yielding a volume of about 220,000 metric tons annually, valued at about P2.6 billion.

However, the emergence of the fruit and shoot borer (FSB) as a major pest of eggplant in the country has been catastrophic to both farm productivity and farmers’ income, and has imperiled food security in vast areas heavily invested in the crop. Indeed, an estimated 51 to 73 percent of the crop is lost when no form of pest control is provided.

Such potential massive production losses prompt the liberal application of 60 to 80 pesticide sprays during a planting season, costing farmers about P28,000 per hectare for pesticides, representing 29 percent of total production costs.

Consequently, eggplant products become not only laced with pesticides, but their price also jumps from ordinarily about P45 per kilo to P70 per kilo—an unaffordable price to most urban low-income consumers.

Given the lack of effective pest-control approaches against FSB available to Filipino eggplant farmers, the development of an alternative technology in the form of Bt talong—devoid of the established risks to humans, farm animals and other non-target organisms—is seen as a promising long-term solution.

Growing Bt talong is expected to significantly increase agricultural productivity in areas severely affected by FSB, and is projected to raise farmers’ income by about P50,000 per hectare.

Natural insecticide
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a soil-dwelling bacterium that has been used to control insect pests since the 1920s. Its spores and crystalline insecticidal proteins are used in formulations marketed as organic pesticides under trade names such as DiPel, Thuricide, Costar, Bio-Trol and BioProtec to kill mosquito larvae and to control caterpillars of moths and butterflies, which destroy many crops and ornamental plants.

Bt spray has been used for over 50 years and organic farmers consider Bt innocuous. It occurs naturally in the gut of some caterpillars, on leaf surfaces and in aquatic environments and it has been found also in animal feces, insect-rich environments, flourmills and grain-storage facilities.

Numerous safety studies have been conducted on Bt spray formulations and Bt toxins produced in genetically modified organisms (GMOs) showing that Bt toxin is nontoxic to humans and non-target animals.

Animal toxicology studies confirmed these results since test animals fed with high concentrations of Bt formulations from GMOs, or even the GMO crops themselves, exhibited no adverse reactions nor showed abnormalities in their gut when examined under the microscope.

The results from these studies have enabled the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization to conclude that consumption of GMOs that produce Bt toxins is safe and unlikely to pose a health hazard to humans and non-target animals owing to the specificity of the insecticidal activity of Bt toxin to specific arthropods.

Improved guidelines
Earlier, Agriculture Undersecretary Atty. Dennis Guerrero said that the overhauled GMO guidelines had been made stringent and transparent, saying that environment safety assessment procedures will be crosschecked by the five agencies before the local cultivation of GM crops.

The joint administrative order was based on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which is an international agreement which aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health.

It was adopted in January 2000 and entered into force in September 2003.

“As the first country in the Asian region to allow the propagation and commercialization of GM crops in 2002, the GM guidelines will further strengthen biotechnology’s role in the country’s agriculture sector and address food security concerns in the immediate future while at the same time ensuring the environment and the health of people plants and animals are protected,” Guerrero said.

The government held several consultations following the order issued by the High Court which nullified all importations, applications, testing and commercialization of plants and plant products derived from the use of modern biotechnology.

The SC earlier said DA order 08-2002 failed to meet the minimum requirements for safety under EO 514, which requires a more transparent, meaningful and participatory public consultation on the conduct of field trials beyond the posting and publication of notices, consultations with some residents and government officials, and submission of written assessment and no socio-economic consideration.

“The new rules have tightened environmental scrutiny before biosafety permits are issued, addressing one of the loopholes the Supreme Court cited when it voided the old rules, in place since 2002,” he added.

Under the new guidelines, there will be Biosafety Committees tasked to review applications for field-testing and cultivation.

The DOST-Biosafety Committee (DOST-BC) was mandated to evaluate applications for contained use and confined test of regulated articles, while the DA-Biosafety Committee (DA-BC) will evaluate applications for field trial, commercial propagation and transboundary movement of regulated articles in accordance with this Circular.

DA-BC will also evaluate the independent reports as well as socio-economic, ethical and cultural considerations.

Meanwhile, the DENR-Biosafety Committee (DENR-BC) shall lead in evaluating environmental risks and impacts of regulated articles for field trial, commercial propagation, and direct use of living modified organisms in accordance with this Circular.

DOH-Biosafety Committee (DOH-BC), on the other hand, shall lead in the evaluation of health impacts of regulated articles for field trial, commercial propagation, and direct use of living modified organisms in accordance with the circular.

“The DA is now tasked to broaden membership in the Scientific and Technical Review Panel to accommodate expertise in the evaluation of the potential risks of regulated articles to the environment and human health,” Guerrero said.

–Written by by James Konstantin Galvez, Manila Times.  See article link here.

Scientists back calls to revive crop biotechnology

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine American Academy of Science and Engineering (PAASE) has joined the growing calls for the resumption of development and field testing of genetically modified eggplant in the country to boost crop productivity.

Biotechnology is a revolutionary tool that is transforming the agricultural sector. Crops developed by genetic engineering can not only be used to enhance yields and nutritional quality but also to safeguard crops against disease.

Eggplant, the leading vegetable crop in the country in terms of both volume and area of production, is a valuable source of income for Filipino farmers.

Eggplant production in the Philippines covers approximately 22,000 hectares, yielding a volume of about 220,000 metric tons annually, valued at about PhP 2.6 billion.

The emergence of the fruit and shoot borer (FSB) as a major pest of eggplant in the country has been catastrophic to both farm productivity and farmers’ income, and has imperiled food security in vast areas heavily invested in the crop.

An estimated 51 to 73 percent of the crop is lost when no form of pest control is provided.

Such potential massive production losses prompt the liberal application of 60 to 80 pesticide sprays during a planting season, costing farmers about P28,000 per hectare on pesticides, representing 29 percent of total production costs.

Consequently, eggplant products become not only laced with pesticides, but their price also jumps from ordinarily about P45 to P70 per kilo – an unaffordable price to most urban low-income consumers.

Given the lack of effective pest-control approaches against FSB available to Filipino eggplant farmers, the development of an alternative technology in the form of Bt talong – devoid of the established risks to humans, farm animals and other non-target organisms that chemical pesticides typically pose – becomes both a desirable and an urgent imperative.

PAASE, an international organization of scientists and engineers who have distinguished themselves research-related activities and who are of Philippine descent – based in the Philippines, US or elsewhere, said the use of biotechnology would significantly increase agricultural productivity in areas severely affected by FSB, and i raise farmers’ income by about P50,000 per hectare.

The development of Bt talong cultivars directly supports the country’s aspiration for inclusive growth and poverty reduction, said PAASE, which promotes the advance cement of science, engineering and technology.

“Results from numerous biosafety and toxicological studies have allowed the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to conclude that the consumption of genetically modified (GM) farm products which produce Bt toxins is safe and unlikely to pose health hazards to humans and non-target animals owing to the specificity of the insecticidal activity of Bt toxin to specific arthropods,” PAASE noted.

In Asia, Bangladesh has already approved the commercial planting of Bt talong, and its government has been providing seeds to farmers on a royalty-free basis since 2013. In India,

The Philippines, on the other hand, was the first country in Asia to approve the commercial cultivation of GMO corn for food and animal feed in 2002.

Today, around 70 percent of the corn planted in the Philippines is GMO. The Philippines has also been importing GMO crops, particularly soybeans and cotton, for more than a decade.

“Given, however, that extensive research studies have provided scientific evidence for the relative safety of Bt-derived insecticidal proteins in humans and animals – and considering the projected significant positive impact of Bt talong on the Philippines’ food security and farmers’ incomes – the resumption and continuation of the research and development and field-testing of Bt talong in the Philippines with a view to generating the necessary empirical data to evaluate its environmental biosafety specifically in the Philippines is fully justified and should be urgently prioritized,” PAASE said.

“Analysis of the relevant technology-transfer arrangements, the patent and plant-variety protection on Bt talong reveals that Filipino farmers would be able to grow Bt talong cultivars without royalty costs and, thus, would not become economically subservient to any particular entity that would otherwise be able to control the Bt talong market. From an intellectual-property standpoint, Filipino farmers are well-positioned to reap the economic benefits of cultivating the insect-resistant Bt talong cultivar,” it added.

–Published in The Philippine Star.  See article link here.

Pinoy, foreign scientists re-tackle BT eggplant, biotech fears

You’ve heard the term biotechnology before. Defined as “any technique that uses whole or part of a living thing to make new products, improve or develop plants, animals and other organisms for specific use,” biotechnology has many applications. Biotechnology is responsible for life-saving vaccines and fertilizers.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), “Traditional biotechnology includes fermentation to produce common products such as vinegar, soy sauce and wine.”

ISAAA-SEARCA celebration
On April 29, ISAAA, together with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the global commercialization of biotech crops at a media conference in Muntinlupa City. Filipino and Bangladeshi scientists discussed advances made in the field of biotechnology in 2015. In particular, the conference highlighted the progress and acceptance of genetically modified eggplant, or Bt Brinjal, in Bangladesh.

ISAAA is “a not-for-profit international organization that shares the benefits of crop biotechnology to various stakeholders, particularly resource-poor farmers in developing countries, through knowledge sharing initiatives and the transfer and delivery of proprietary biotechnology applications.”

SEARCA is “a non-profit organization established by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) in 1966. As SEAMEO’s center of excellence in agriculture, SEARCA is mandated ‘to provide to the participating countries high quality graduate study in agriculture; promote, undertake, and coordinate research programs related to the needs and problems of the Southeast Asian region; and disseminate the findings of agricultural research and experimentation.’”

Lamenting the eggplant
In the welcome remarks, Dr. Gil Saguiguit, Jr., Director of SEARCA, commented that biotechnology is frequently bombarded by claims that it is detrimental to health. Such claims led to the Supreme Court decision to stop field tests on Bt eggplant in 2015.

In his message, Dr. Eufemio Rasco of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) said that though the Philippines was the first to develop Bt eggplant, Filipinos may never benefit from it. He compared the Philippine case to Bangladesh. “After seven years of field and greenhouse trials in various locations, Bangladesh became the first country in the world to approve the commercial planting of Bt brinjal.” Bt Brinjal was approved for release on October 30, 2013.

Rasco lamented, “The Bangladeshi people trusted their scientists, we did not (trust ours). Let us not allow temporary setbacks to dampen our commitment to help farmers and consumers.” He hoped that the concerns of farmers, and the issue of food security, would not be overlooked in the elections, or by the incoming government officials. The benefits of biotech will be enjoyed by generations to come, he prophesied.

The case of Bangladesh
Two Bangladeshi scientists spoke at the conference to share their experience with Bt Brinjal.

Dr. Gour Pada Das is the Country Coordinator of Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership in Bangladesh. Das shared an analysis of published reports about Bt Brinjal, in the hopes of determining how media perceived the new crop. He explained that the media was a powerful ally in promoting the acceptance of Bt Brinjal, and he shared their efforts in helping media practitioners understand the science.

Dr. ASM Mahbubur Rahman Khan is the Chief Scientific Officer and Head of the On-Farm Research Division at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI). He shared that two important stakeholders were satisfied with Bt Brinjal: farmers and housewives. Farmers were interested to grow the four varieties that were approved for release, and they were rewarded with lower production cost, higher yield, and higher gross margins. Housewives were happy to have healthy fruit.

Public fears
The open forum was moderated by Dr. Vivencio R. Mamaril, Program Director of Biotechnology Program Office at the Department of Agriculture. One question that arose was that of labeling. Detractors insist that biotech crops should be labeled as GMOs, and all products with ingredients that use biotech crops be appropriately labeled as well. But Das and Khan explained that Bangladeshi law makes no such requirement. Bt Brinjal, for example, is simply labeled “insect-free.”

Dr. Randy A. Hautea, Global Coordinator and Director of ISAAA’s Southeast Asia Center, explained that locally, biotech crops are sold in markets as simply “pesticide-free” or “insecticide-free.” He reasoned that labels should describe the product and its traits, providing information that matters to consumers. He further explained that almost all local tofu or “tokwa” is made from imported GM soybean. “What is the value of labeling it GM tokwa?”

Consequences of the Supreme Court ruling
Inevitably, Hautea was asked to comment on the Supreme Court ruling to stop field tests on Bt eggplant. He explained that ultimately, the case has not been decided, and that the court has entertained all motions for reconsideration.

As a representative from the DA, Mamaril quelled fears that other biotech crops would be affected by the Supreme Court ruling. He explained that previous approvals of other biotech crops were in no danger of being repealed, and farmers could continue planting them if they wished.

In closing, Hautea hoped the Philippines would learn from the experience of Bangladesh, identifying parallels in between the two countries’ developments in various fields of science and technology as well. He hoped that “we will share the same political will their government exhibited in the case of Bt Brinjal, so that we also put the weight of government behind a stronger push for science and technology in this country.”

With a new government in place, Filipino scientists can only hope for the best. — TJD, GMA News

–Written by Regina Laug-Rosero, GMA News Online.  See article link here.