Recognizing the potential of biotechnology in meeting the challenges in food security, natural resource management, and agro-industry, SEAMEO Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), in partnership with the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), established the SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center (BIC) on 01 September 2000. It became an off-shoot of the Regional Conference on Agricultural Biotechnology in Bangkok, Thailand in the same year that carried the theme “Needs and Priorities in the Context of Southeast Asia’s Agricultural Objectives” that was organized by SEARCA, and co-sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Asia and Pacific Seed Association (APSA).
SEARCA BIC has been proactive in presenting highly accessible and science-based information on biotechnology to different stakeholders as it contributes to an enabling environment for agricultural biotechnology in the region. It continues to remain at the forefront of promoting agri-biotechnology practices, particularly in the areas of science and educational communication, and capacity enhancement. It enables partnerships with various international and local institutions working together with common goal of facilitating the use of biotechnology to address the global challenges of food and energy security, environmental sustainability, and changing climate.
“To address the needs of the region for a highly credible, sound and factual biotechnology information center in the Southeast Asian region accessible to various stakeholders.”
- To serve as the hub of a regional network for science-based information on agricultural biotechnology;
- To act as information broker among various stakeholders;
- To coordinate with regional and national network nodes on the exchange, processing, packaging, and distribution of agricultural biotechnology information;
- To support national programs on agricultural biotechnology by providing strategic information for decision-making; and
- To synthesize and package science-based information using appropriate formats.
Biotechnology Information and Communication Resources
Information on biotechnology is developed and packaged into appropriate formats such as information sheets, primers, posters, mentors’ kits, brochures, cd-based knowledge resources that aim to meet the information needs of different stakeholders. These knowledge products are disseminated in various information outreach activities and delivery channels to promote awareness on the benefits and applications of biotechnology.
Further, SEARCA BIC continues to provide science-based information on research and development of biotech crops that are in the pipeline for commercialization in the country. It partners with various institutions in developing communication tools for these products that are dovetailed with its R&D activities.
The E-news Service
The SEARCA BIC Electronic News (E-news) Service publishes events and announcements, biotechnology information and communication products, and news updates on biotechnology around the world, with focus on agri-biotechnology developments in the Philippines and the Asia Pacific region. Information in this e-news service are gathered and to its e-group with more than 70,000 members to date. To subscribe, register online here.
The SEARCA BIC website (http://www.bic.searca.org) serves as a knowledge portal that provides general information about biotechnology and showcases a gallery of biotechnology information resources, downloadable information and educational materials, presentation slides, and conference proceedings. Likewise, it releases news updates and features on biotechnology, press backgrounders, and event announcements.
Learning Events and Outreach Activities on Biotechnology
The SEARCA BIC organizes and coordinates learning events such as training courses, study visits, workshops, conferences, fora, consultations, media briefing and other outreach activities that may serve as venues for objective discussions and sharing of knowledge on biotechnology. It conceptualizes training modules and programs in risk communication, social marketing of biotech products, risk management, food and environmental safety, and impact assessment of agricultural biotechnology that may be crucial for stakeholders’ informed decision making, capacity enhancement, and technology adoption.
Monitoring and Analysis of Biotechnology News Coverage
The media coverage of issues and trends on biotechnology published in major national dailies , community newspapres and online resources from the Philippines and across the globe are gathered and analyzed to assess the vital role of media in delivering science-based information on biotechnology to the general public. The media, as with scientists, have been highly regarded as credible source of factual biotechnology information that influence public perception, decision making and policy environment formulation.