Bt talong technology to proceed as SC reverses own ruling

The Supreme Court has reversed its ruling that prevented the field testing of the genetically engineered Bt talong.

In a unanimous decision, the high court granted the motions for reconsideration filed by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications Inc., Environmental Management Bureau, Crop Life Philippines, University of the Philippines Los Baños Foundation and University of the Philippines.

The court agreed that “the case should have been dismissed for mootness” since the Bt talong field trials have been completed and terminated and the biosafety permits issued by the Bureau of Plant Industry have already expired. Thus, these “effectively negated the need for the reliefs sought by respondents [Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines) and Magsasaka at Siyentipiko sa Pagpapaunlad ng Agrikultura] as there was no longer any field test to stop.”

According to the SC, “an action is considered moot when it no longer presents a justiciable controversy because the issues have become academic or when the subject matter has been resolved,” and it is “not empowered to decide moot questions or abstract propositions, or to declare principles or riles of law which cannot affect the result as to the thing in issue in the case before it.”

It added that the completion and termination of the field tests would not automatically lead to the commercial propagation of Bt talong as three stages are still needed before genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may be made available in the market. The Bt talong technology never went beyond the field testing phase.

“Thus, there are no guaranteed after-effects to the already concluded Bt talong field trials that demands an adjudication from which the public may perceivably benefit. Any future threat to the right of herein respondents or the public in general to a healthful and balanced ecology is therefore more imagined than real.”

In December 2015, the high tribunal ordered that field trials of Bt talong be permanently stopped following the nullification of the Department of Agriculture Administrative Order (DAO) No. 08-2002. The DA document, which regulates the use of GMOs, was found insufficient in enforcing biosafety protocols. Along with the suspension of Bt talong trials, the SC also temporarily halted any application for field testing, contained use, propagation and importation of GMOs. The decision was opposed by farmers and scientists.

Bt talong, developed through biotechnology, can increase productivity in areas affected by eggplant pests known as fruit and shoot borers without the use of chemical pesticides.

–Published at Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of the Philippines website.  See article link here.

UP law professors point out need for biotech communicators

UP law professors point out need for biotech communicators



Law professors from the University of the Philippines Law Center-Institute of International Legal Studies (IILS) shared their assessment on Bt talong and GMOsin the Philippines during their special Agriculture and Development Seminar Series (ADSS) seminars for the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) on July 20, 2016, at SEARCA, College, Laguna.

IILS Officer-In-Charge Atty. Edgardo Carlo L. Vistan II shared his interpretation of the December 8, 2015 Supreme Court decision on banning the Bt talong field trials and the nullification of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Administrative Order No. 8 which served as guidelines for the regulation of GM plants in the country. Law Education Specialist Atty. Celeste Ruth Cembrano Mallari presented issues in international trade ofGM crops and cited the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures of the World Trade Organization and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Both law experts, recognizing the benefits and potentials of biotech, expressed the need for effective science communicators particularly in advancing the importance and value of biotech research and products to policymakers and key decision makers.

On July 26, the Supreme Court reversed its December 2015 decision on the Bt talong case, stating the mootness of the case, with the field trials having been already completed in 2012.

For more information about biotech developments in the Philippines, visit the website of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture – Biotechnology Information Center. (Maria Monina Cecilia A. Villena and Sophia M. Mercado)

For more information, please contact:

SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center
College 4031, Laguna, PHILIPPINES
Telephone no.: (+63-49) 536 2290 ext 405/169/135
Fax no.: (+63-49) 536 4105