Make Biotech Sexy Again

Not so long ago, biotechnology was touted as an industry that promised lucrative job opportunities. Many were taken by that promise. They lined up at colleges to enrol for the course. Universities competed to get students. Many eventually graduated, but the promised jobs were not there. This was understandable since the biotechnology industry then was still small. Many biotechnology graduates ended up working for banks selling credit cards!

Biotechnology is different now.

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PH Scientists Create Potential Super Antibiotic

Seventy years after its historic and global contribution, Iloilo is again poised to be the source of the next antibiotic discovery. Dr. Doralyn S. Dalisay of the Center for Chemical Biology and Biotechnology (C2B2) at the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City has found marine microbes with the potential of becoming the basic ingredient for a super antibiotic. Read more

Could India Become the Next Cell-cultured Meat Hub?

India has significant incentives for making these investments in research centers and supporting the development of lab-grown meat. The country seems to have the political will to encourage cellular agriculture. With a population of about 1.34 billion, it will likely need more protein products to keep pace as recent reports have warned that major changes are needed to feed the world’s population by 2050.

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From Lab to Field: Indonesian Scientists Develop New Crops for Farmers Using Nuclear Science

Farmers in Indonesia have over the last few years grown enough rice for more than 20 million people using plants developed through the country’s plant mutation breeding programme. The programme first took root through collaboration with the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1997 and has since grown into a comprehensive partnership network that brings the results of scientific research with nuclear techniques to farmers’ fields.

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Is Philippine Agriculture Ready for Industry 4.0?

Is the country’s agriculture sector ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0 (ID4)? So far there are no clear answers, but let me explain what advantages ID4 can offer to the country’s farming and fisheries industries. ID4 offers a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, thus impacting businesses, economies and industries, including agriculture.

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Salt Tolerant Rice Variety Developed by Indian Scientists

A group of Indian scientists has developed a new salt-tolerant transgenic rice plant by over-expressing a gene from a wild rice called Porteresia coarctata into the commonly used IR 64 indica rice variety. Porteresia coarctata is a native of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar and is grown mainly in saline estuaries.

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SEARCA BIC Holds Region-Wide Public Briefing On Philippine Biosafety Regulations

SEARCA BIC Holds Region-Wide Public Briefing On Philippine Biosafety Regulations

More than a hundred participants composed of farmers, local government officials and representives from the private sector and academe from the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, and La Union attended the Biotechnology 101 and Joint Department Circular (JDC) No. 1, Series of 2016 Public Briefing held at Plaza del Norte, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte on March 28, 2019.

Scientists and experts from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines gave presentations on biotechnology, food and environmental safety of genetically modified (GM) crops, different biotech products in the pipeline, and new breeding innovations. Representatives from the Departments of Health, Agriculture, Science and Technology, and Interior and Local Government were also present to discuss the guidelines of their respective agencies in the implementation of the JDC as well as address questions from the audience.

 Representatives from the province of Ilocos Norte with the experts and resource persons during the event. (Image Credit: SEARCA BIC)
Representatives from the province of Ilocos Norte with the experts and resource persons during the event. (Image Credit: SEARCA BIC)

The participants expressed their anticipation on approval of new GM crops in the country (i.e., Bt eggplant and Golden Rice) and inquired if the approval process can be expedited. The experts explained that the rigid regulatory system is important to guarantee the safety of GM crops in the market. They also affirmed the validity of the biosafety regulations as the Philippines has one of the most stringent regulatory guidelines worldwide. Another concern raised was the price of Bt eggplant seeds. Ms. Anna Pauleen Masanga from the UPLB-Institute of Plant Breeding and a member of the Bt eggplant project team assured the group that the seeds will be made available to farmers at a reasonable price once it is commercialized.

The activity was organized by the SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA BIC) in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Biotechnology Information Office, ISAAA, DA Regional Office I, and Ilocos Norte Provincial Agricultural Office.

 

Written by Danellie Joy O. Medina, SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center

Plants Grow Less in Hotter Temperatures

Plants have developed a robust system that stops their cell cycle in hostile environments such as abnormally hot temperatures. In response, they direct their energy to survival rather than growth. A new study led by scientists at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) reports in eLife that two transcription factors, ANAC044 and ANAC085, are critical for this response in the flowering plant Arabidopsis. The findings give clues on ways to modulate the growth of crops and other agriculture products.

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Agri-Biotech Stakeholders Convene For Pan-Asia Farmer’s Exchange Program

Forty-three delegates from 10 Asian countries composed of farmer-leaders, scientists and the academia, media, as well as representatives from government and private institutions gathered for the week-long 13th Pan-Asia Farmers’ Exchange Program held on April 1-5, 2019 in Manila, Philippines.

Discussions focused on communicating biotech in the Philippines, the country’s biosafety regulations for biotech crops, insect resistance management program, the current status of agri-biotech in each country, and plant breeding innovations. The group also went to a commercial Bt corn farm in the province of Tarlac and paid a visit to the International Rice Research Institute as well as the Corteva Seed Processing Plant to learn about their projects and see the research facilities first-hand.

Participants of the 13th Pan-Asia Farmers' Exchange Program
Participants of the 13th Pan-Asia Farmers’ Exchange Program

The exchange program, which was first conducted in 2007, was organized by CropLife Asia, CropLife Philippines, and the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines. It aims to serve as a platform for knowledge sharing and exchange on agricultural biotechnology where the delegates learn how biotech crops go through a stringent, science-based regulatory process to ensure their safety to humans and animals and to the environment, how they are managed at farm level, and how they benefit the farmers and their communities.

 

Written by Danellie Joy O. Medina, SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center