PH Legislators and Judicial Members Engage in Agri-biotech Discussions

PH Legislators and Judicial Members Engage in Agri-biotech Discussions

Twenty legislators and more than 100 of their staff from the Philippine House of Representatives joined the Forum on the Global Status of Biotechnology held on September 9, 2019.

Dr. Carl Ramage, CEO & Managing Director of Rautaki Solutions and Dr. Saturnina Halos, President of the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines (BCP) presented and discussed the global and local biotech trends focusing on genome editing and biotech regulations. Biotech advocate Richard Torno, a biotech corn farmer from the province of Pampanga, shared his experiences in planting biotech corn and its potential to uplift the lives of Filipino farmers.

Rep. Manuel Zubiri from the third district of Bukidnon and Vice-chair of the House Committee on Trade and Industry expresses his support for agri-biotech
Rep. Manuel Zubiri from the third district of Bukidnon and Vice-chair of the House Committee on Trade and Industry expresses his support for agri-biotech

The legislators raised their concerns. They were particularly keen on knowing the potentials of genetic engineering or genetic modification in solving current problems in agriculture such as Panama disease, production of stem-borer resistant rice, and swine fever-resistant hogs, among others. Dr. Halos responded that initial research is being conducted in the country. Dr. Ramage, on the other hand, emphasized that while biotech is not the only tool to solve agriculture problems, it has documented benefits and should complement other technologies in solving the mentioned concerns.

Expressing his support, Manuel Zubiri from the third district of Bukidnon and Vice-chair of the House Committee on Trade and Industry said, “I am not against it. This (biotechnology) is the only way to go. Before I was close-minded about GMOs, but now, a lot of people are starving. There is also malnutrition and climate change. We have to make sure that food security is our priority.”

A similar forum was held for selected members of the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) and Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS) on September 12, 2019. PHILJA’s Chief of Office for Research, Publications, and Linkages Office, Dean Sedfrey Candelaria of the Ateneo Manila College Law, shared that they are currently revisiting the curriculum of law schools to include not just traditional subjects but also current trends, particularly science-based issues such as biotechnology. He noted that the Bt Eggplant case, which was prominently discussed in court, has already reached the classrooms and is being studied by law students today.

The forums were part of week-long series of biotech outreach activities organized by the SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA BIC) in partnership with the US Embassy Manila, House of Representatives, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), and the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines (BCP).

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

First-ever Genetically-modified Silkworm Awaits Nod from GEAC

A joint effort by sericulture research institute and Hyderabad-based lab

World’s first-ever genetically modified silkworm developed at Andhra Pradesh State Sericulture Research and Development Institute (APSSRDI) now awaits approval from Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee at national level to go for the second phase trials of the baculovirus resistant transgenic silkworm with a view to overcoming the loss in silk cocoon production.

Read more

Lab-grown Meat Finds Its Way Into Chinese Moon Cakes

Chinese customers who are fed up with traditional flavors of moon cakes such as mixed nuts and bean paste now have a new choice: synthetic meat. It is a Chinese tradition to eat moon cakes over Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Friday this year. A week before the festival, moon cakes stuffed with mock meat made from plant protein went on sale on e-commerce platform Taobao. In less than three days, over half of the limited 3,000 boxes had been sold.

Read more

Attracting More Young Blood Into Agriculture

(First of two parts)

I must state that we should never waste time in attracting more of the youth to the agriculture sector, as the average age of our farmers is from 57 to 60 and most of them may retire in the next few years.

And I believe that a big portion of our fisherfolk may also be in that age range.

Read more

Agriculture Panel Mulls Use of Genetically Modified Oilseeds in Maharashtra

The high-powered committee on transformation in agriculture – constituted by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi and comprising nine states – is in favour of using genetically-modified (GM) crops for oilseeds to reduce the country’s dependence on imports.

Read more

‘Spread the Gospel of Biotech’ – PH Agriculture Official

‘Spread the gospel of biotech’ — these were the words of Engr. Alson Quimba, Provincial Agriculturist of the Province of Bukidnon, Philippines to more than 150 farmers, local government officers, and members of the academe and consumer groups during the Biotech 101 and Joint Department Circular Public (JDC) Public Briefing held in the province on August 16, 2019. A training on Storytelling Agri-Innovations thru Social Media was held the following day, attended by around 30 information officers from the province.

Read more

Scientists’ Work on Microbes may Boost Farming Research

National University of Singapore (NUS) scientists have developed a faster and cheaper way to create genetic material used in the research of disruptive agriculture. The technology accelerates the tedious process labs go through to genetically modify their own micro-organisms for research.

Read more

Accelerating Growth: IAEA Launches Plant Mutation Breeding Network for Asia and the Pacific

With populations growing rapidly, particularly in Asia and the Pacific, farmers and scientists are all the more drawing on the benefits of using irradiation to develop new crop varieties and meet farmers’ needs: higher, stable yields and high-quality plants that can resist disease and climate change.

Read more

Scientists Crack the Code to Improve Stress Tolerance in Plants

Scientists Crack the Code to Improve Stress Tolerance in Plants

In any eukaryotic organism, the DNA in a cell exists not as a loose strand, but as a highly condensed complex that consists of DNA and other proteins known as histones. Overall, this condensed structure is referred to as chromatin, and this packaging is important for maintaining the integrity of DNA structure and sequence. However, as chromatin restricts the topology of DNA, modification of chromatin (via modification of histones) is an important form of regulation of genes and is referred to as epigenetic regulation.

Read more

With its CRISPR Revolution, China Becomes a World Leader in Genome Editing

With its CRISPR Revolution, China Becomes a World Leader in Genome Editing

Editing of plant, animal, and human genomes has never been easier, as this country’s scientists are rapidly demonstrating.

For many people, CRISPR plus China equals the biophysicist He Jiankui, who infamously used the genome editor last year to alter the DNA of two human embryos that would become twin girls. Before his announcement, He was little-known within the country’s CRISPR community, which has grown rapidly and is now challenging—and by some measures surpassing—the United States in its use of the powerful tool.

Read more

We Dislike GM Foods Because We’re Ignorant About Them

Protesters of the recent application of a confined  genetically modified (GM)  rice field trial at the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi) Arau station in Tambun Tulang, Perlis, claimed that GM rice threatens Malaysia as a centre of genetic diversity for rice.

Read more