From Frankenfood to Light of Hope:17 Years of Agri-biotech Reporting in the Philippines (2000-2016)

From Frankenfood to Light of Hope:17 Years of Agri-biotech Reporting in the Philippines (2000-2016)

This publication features the 17-year (2000-2016) study conducted by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) and SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center (BIC).  The study was conducted to see the trends in media reporting in print and online on agricultural biotechnology. 

PUBLISHED BY: The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)

CITATION: Tome, Kristine Grace N., Mariechel J. Navarro, Sophia M. Mercado, and Maria Monina Cecilia
A. Villena. Seventeen Years of Media Reportage of Biotechnology in the Philippines. Philippine
Journal of Crop Science xx(xx): xx-xx.

 

Download PDF copy (1MB)The first 10 years (2000–2009) was initially published in 2011 covering the development and commercialization of biotech corn in the country as reported in print by the top three national dailies, Manila Bulletin, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Philippine Star.

The following seven years (2010–2016) was published in 2017, covering the recent happenings in the Philippine biotechnology arena such as the research and development of biotech food crops, Bt eggplant (pest resistant eggplant) and Golden Rice (Vitamin A-enriched rice). Aside from the top three newspapers, articles published by Business Mirror were also included in the study because of its significant increase in the number of articles on agricultural biotechnology. Online articles from the four newspapers were also included in the study to get more holistic understanding of biotechnology discussion in the country. The articles were classified and analyzed according to type, topic, tone, focus, sources, media frames, and use of metaphors.

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INFOGRAPHICS: Philippine biotech/GM crops adoption in 2016

INFOGRAPHICS: Philippine biotech/GM crops adoption in 2016

The Philippines was first country in Southeast Asia to plant biotech corn in 2003 after its approval for commercial planting in 2002.  An estimated of 6.03 million hectares of land in the country was planted with biotech corn since then.

This infographics describes the Philippine adoption of biotech/GM crops in 2016.  Despite a temporary decline in biotech/GM corn area in 2015, the Philippines has quickly rebounded production in 2016, when adoption rates for the crop increased due to the enormous benefits enjoyed by Filipino consumers, farmers and their families.

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ISAAA Brief 52-2016: Press Release

ISAAA Brief 52-2016: Press Release

Biotech/GM Crops Surge to a New Peak of 185.1 Million Hectares in 2016
Global Area Rebounds from 2015 as Farmers Continue to Adopt Biotech Crops

10674e-green-corn-field-hd-imageBeijing (May 4, 2017) – Today, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) released its annual report showcasing the 110-fold increase in adoption rate of biotech crops globally in just 21 years of commercialization – growing from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 185.1 million hectares in 2016. ISAAA’s report, “Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2016,” continues to demonstrate the long-standing benefits of biotech crops for farmers in developing and industrialized countries, as well as consumer benefits of recently approved and commercialized varieties.

“Biotech crops have become a vital agricultural resource for farmers around the world because of the immense benefits for improved productivity and profitability, as well as conservation efforts,” said ISAAA Chair of the Board, Paul S. Teng. “With the commercial approvals and plantings of new varieties of biotech potatoes and apples, consumers will begin to enjoy direct benefits of biotechnology with produce that is not likely to spoil or be damaged, which in turn has the potential to substantially reduce food waste and consumer grocery costs.”

Examining other benefits of biotechnology, ISAAA reports that the adoption of biotech crops has reduced CO2 emissions equal to removing approximately 12 million cars from the road annually in recent years; conserved biodiversity by removing 19.4 million hectares of land from agriculture in 2015; and decreased the environmental impact with a 19% reduction in herbicide and insecticide use.1 Additionally, in developing countries, planting biotech crops has helped alleviate hunger by increasing the incomes for 18 million small farmers and their families, bringing improved financial stability to more than 65 million people.

“Biotechnology is one of the tools necessary in helping farmers grow more food on less land,” explained ISAAA Global Coordinator Randy Hautea. “However, the promises of biotech crops can only be unlocked if farmers are able to buy and plant these crops, following a scientific approach to regulatory reviews and approvals.”

As more varieties of biotech crops are approved and commercialized for use by farmers, ISAAA expects to see adoption rates continue to climb and to benefit farmers in developing countries. For example, among African nations where regulatory processes have traditionally created barriers to biotech crop adoption rates, advances are being realized. In 2016, South Africa and Sudan increased the planting of biotech maize, soybean and cotton to 2.66 million hectares from 2.29 million hectares in 2015. Elsewhere on the continent, a new wave of acceptance is emerging as Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Swaziland and Uganda make advances in regulatory review and commercial approvals for a variety of biotech crops.

“Even with a long history of regulatory barriers, African farmers continue to adopt biotech crops because of the value they are realizing from the stability and productivity of biotech varieties,” said Hautea. “As more countries move forward with regulatory reviews for crops such as bananas, cowpeas and sorghum, we believe biotech crop plantings will continue to grow in Africa and elsewhere.”

Also in 2016, Brazil increased biotech area of maize, soybean, cotton and canola by a remarkable 11% – maintaining its ranking as the second largest producer of biotech crops after the United States. In Brazil, biotech soybeans account for 32.7 million hectares of the 91.4 million hectares grown worldwide.

For 2016, ISAAA also reports that there were improvements in the commercialization and plantings of biotech fruits and vegetables with direct consumer benefits. These included the commercial approvals of the Innate™ Russet Burbank Gen 2 potatoes that were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for sale in the United States and the Simplot Gen 1 White Russet™ brand potatoes that were approved by Health Canada for fresh market sale in Canada. These biotech potato varieties have lower levels of asparagine, which reduces the creation of acrylamide during high-heat cooking. Additionally, the first commercially saleable quantities of Arctic® Apples were harvested in 2016, stored over the winter and are projected to be sold in U.S. grocery stores in 2017.
Additional highlights from ISAAA’s 2016 report include:

  • Global area rebounded in 2016 with 185.1 million hectares of biotech crops versus 179. 7 million hectares 2015, when global area for all crops was down, and 181.5 million hectares in 2014.
  • In 2016, 26 countries in total, including 19 developing and 7 industrial countries, grew biotech crops. Developing countries grew 54% of biotech crops, compared to 46% for industrial nations.
  • Eight countries in Asia and the Pacific, including China and India, grew 18.6 million hectare of biotech crops in 2016.
  • 10 countries in Latin America, including Paraguay and Uruguay, grew a combined 80 million hectares of biotech crops in 2016.
  • In 2016, the leading countries growing biotech crops continued to be represented by the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and India. Combined, these five countries planted 91% of the global biotech crop area.
  • Four countries in Europe — Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic  Slovakia — grew more than 136,000 hectares of biotech maize in 2016, an increase of 17% from 2015, reflecting EU’s need for insect resistant maize.
  • Biotech crops with stacked traits accounted for 41% of global area, second only to herbicide tolerance at 47%.
  • Biotech soybean varieties accounted for 50% of global biotech crop area. Based on global area for individual crops, 78% of soybean, 64% of cotton, 26% of maize and 24% of canola planted in the world were biotech varieties.
  • Countries with over 90% adoption of biotech soybean are U.S.A, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, South Africa, and Uruguay; close to or over 90% adoption of biotech maize are USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, South Africa, and Uruguay; over 90% of biotech cotton are USA, Argentina, India, China, Pakistan, South Africa, Mexico, Australia, and Myanmar; and with 90% or more of biotech canola are USA and Canada.

For more information or the executive summary of the report, visit www.isaaa.org.

1Brookes and Barfoot, 2017, Forthcoming

For more information, visit ISAAA’s page at http://www.isaaa.org.

TOTE-ALLY BIOTECH: A Bag Print Design Contest

TOTE-ALLY BIOTECH: A Bag Print Design Contest

toteally-biotech

ISAAA and SEARCA BIC are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Tote-ally biotech Contest. The contest aimed to encourage the students’ creativity through print designs for white katsa bags. Entries featured designs on the theme of this year’s National Biotechnology Week (NBW) “Biotechnology: Partner in National Development.” The Contest was divided into high school and college levels.

The winners received certificates plus corresponding cash prizes of Php10,000, Php7,500, and Php5,000 for the first, second and third place, high school level; and Php17,600, Php12,500, and Php7,500 for the college level. The awarding took place on 25 November during the Closing Ceremony of the NBW in Quezon City.

College level winners

1st Place, College level.
1st PLACE: Nina Kate C. Jingco (4th year, BS Agricultural Biotechnology, UPLB)

 

2nd PLACE: Myka Kathia Lim Barcena (3rd year, BS Biology, UPLB)

 

3rd Place, College level
3RD PLACE: John Albert M. Caraan (4th Year, BS Agricultural Biotechnology, UPLB)

 

High school level winners

1ST PLACE: Abigail Grace R. Tamayo (Grade 10, Divine Light Academy School Molino, Bacoor, Cavite)
1ST PLACE: Abigail Grace R. Tamayo (Grade 10, Divine Light Academy School Molino, Bacoor, Cavite)

 

2nd Place, High School
2ND PLACE: Leedor John A. Abrenica (Grade 11 – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), San Pablo Colleges)

 

3RD PLACE: Vimarie China U. Bidon (Grade 11-Accountancy, Business and Management, Lyceum of the Philippines-Laguna)
3RD PLACE: Vimarie China U. Bidon (Grade 11-Accountancy, Business and Management, Lyceum of the Philippines-Laguna)

 


 ABOUT THE CONTEST

This bag design contest is part of the celebration of the 12th National Biotechnology Week (NBW) and is being organized by the SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA BIC) and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) to involve Filipino students in the promotion and awareness of the benefits and potentials of biotechnology. The contest aims to encourage the students’ creativity through print designs for white katsa bags. Designs should center on this year’s NBW theme “Youth, Agriculture, and Biotechnology.”

I.  Mechanics

  1. The bag design contest is open to all Filipino students classified according to the following levels:
  • High school level Grades 7-12 students
  • College level College students
  1. All interested applicants must submit a 5×5 square inch (with 300 pixel wide resolution) original bag print design in JPEG format.
  1. The theme for the bag design making contest is “Youth, Agriculture, and Biotechnology.”
  1. Designs must only include 2-3 colors. It may also include texts (i.e. one-liners about the theme).
  1. All entries must be submitted on or before 2 November 2016 together with the designer’s full name, age, contact number, school, year level and course, and a scanned copy of his/her school ID. Entries shall be sent to toteally.biotech2016@gmail.com with the subject “Tote-ally biotech.”
  1. Entries will be judged on 4 November 2016. Winners will be notified after judging of entries, and will be invited to the awarding ceremony on 25 November 2016 during the Closing Ceremony of NBW.
  1. Prizes shall be:

     High school level

  • First runner-up: Php10,000
  • Second runner-up: Php7,500
  • Third runner-up: Php5,000

    College level

  • First runner-up: Php17,500
  • Second runner-up: Php12,500
  • Third runner-up: Php7,500
  1. Copyright of the graphic artwork remains with the artist. However, by entering this contest, all contestants grant ISAAA and SEARCA BIC the exclusive use to reproduce, distribute, display, and create derivative works of the entries for knowledge sharing initiatives and science popularization activities without further compensation to the artists.

II.  Criteria for Judging

Entries will be judged using the following criteria:

Message and Content:             30%
Creativity and Presentation:  30%
Originality:                                30%
Relevance to the theme:         10%
Total: 100%

FAQs: Biotechnology and Its Applications

FAQs: Biotechnology and Its Applications

Updated June 2017

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Here are some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about biotechnology:

What is Biotechnology?

Biotechnology is a modern technology that makes use of organisms (or parts thereof) to: make or modify products; improve and develop microorganisms, plants or animals; or develop organisms for specific purposes in a more
precise manner.

Tools of biotechnology can be used to make products for agricultural, industrial, medical, and environmental applications.

Download PDF copy of the brochure (5.4MB)
Download PDF copy of the brochure

How is biotechnology different from the traditional way of improving crops?

Biotechnology allows scientists to precisely introduce a desired character by being able to insert only specific genes into a plant. Traditional crop improvement entails a long process of hybridization and selection. It involves numerous combinations of traits that require a large population to be able to select a plant with the desired trait.


What is the scientific basis of biotechnology?

All plants, animals, and living organisms have cells, the basic unit of life.  Within cells are hereditary materials generally composed of deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA). These hereditary materials (that determine a trait) are called
genes. Through biotechnology, the gene fragments can be inserted from one organism to another, within related and unrelated species, to improve specific traits.


What are the tools used in biotechnology?

Gene Cloning – identification and isolation of specific DNA fragments that are introduced into a self-replicating genetic element so that the fragment can be reproduced and expressed in the target organism.

Tissue Culture – a technique that involves culturing plant parts and animal cells under laboratory conditions.

Microbial culture – a method of multiplying microbial organisms.

DNA-marker technology – involves the identification of DNA fragments associated with a certain desired trait and its utilization.

Genetic Engineering – the manipulation, introduction, and expression of specific genes or DNA in the target organisms. This is the method used in developing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The technology is often called “modern biotechnology” or “gene technology,” and sometimes, “recombinant DNA technology.”


Why do we need crop biotechnology?

To be able to develop crops with increased yield; improved food, nutrient and other agronomic qualities; multiple disease and insect resistance; and tolerance to abiotic stresses in a short and precise manner.


What is a GM/biotech crop?

2017_faqs1bA GM/biotech or transgenic crop is a plant that has a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.


How are novel genes inserted into plants?

Several methods currently exist for introducing transgenes into plant genomes. The most commonly used involves a device called “biolistic or gene gun.” The DNA to be introduced into the plant cells is coated on to tiny gold or tungsten particles. These particles are then physically shot into plant cells. Some of the DNA comes off and is incorporated into the DNA of the recipient plant.

Another method uses the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens to introduce the gene(s) of interest into the plant DNA through transfection.  The cells are screened to identify which successfully took up the desired gene and are then evaluated for the expression of the new trait. When crops reach the field stage, the seeds are sown in the field and grown the same way as any other crop. These plants just have the new and desired trait.


Why make GM/biotech crops?

GM technology can address problems that cannot be solved through conventional crop improvement methods.

It enables plant breeders to bring together in one plant useful genes from a wide range of sources, not just from within the crop species or closely related plants.

This powerful tool allows plant breeders to attain a desired trait combination faster and address urgent
concerns like the development of crops that are resistant to biotic (diseases and pests) or abiotic stresses (drought
and waterlogging), and with increased yield and improved food and nutrient quality.


How do you select the variety of a crop to be improved?

Popular varieties are selected to be the target of crop improvement through genetic engineering. These varieties are already being widely planted and accepted by the farmers but needs improvement in one or more characters.


Who produces GM crops?

Early generations of GM crops were developed in industrialized countries mainly in North America and Western Europe. Recently, however, many research and development on GM crops are being done in developing
countries, like the Philippines, which have established the capacity for genetic engineering.


What were the first GM/biotech plants?

GM petunia and GM tobacco were produced in 1983 in laboratories in the USA and Belgium.


When was the first GM/biotech crop commercialized?

In 1994, Calgene’s delayed-ripening tomato (Flavr-Savr™) became the first genetically modified food crop to be produced and consumed in an industrialized country. In 1995, GM cotton with resistance to herbicide and GM corn
with insect resistance were subsequently commercialized. GM corn is now planted in developing countries like the Philippines.


What are the GM/biotech crops available in the market?

Most of the GM crops currently on the market have an increased level of crop protection through the introduction of resistance against plant pests and diseases caused by insects, viruses, or other pathogens. Others have an increased tolerance towards herbicides.

Insect resistance is achieved by incorporating the gene for toxin production from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) into the crop. This bacterium has been widely used as conventional microbial insecticide in agriculture since the 1930s.

GM crops that permanently produce this toxin have been shown to require lower quantities of insecticides in specific situations, e.g. where pest pressure is high. Several Bt corn varieties are already propagated and marketed in the Philippines.

Virus resistance is achieved through the introduction of a gene from certain disease-causing viruses. Virus resistance makes plants less susceptible to these viral diseases, minimizing damage to the plant and resulting in higher crop yields. Papaya ringspot virus resistant papayas are already being cultivated and consumed in the USA and China.
Herbicide tolerance is achieved through the introduction of a gene from a bacterium conveying resistance to some herbicides. This allows herbicides to be used to control weeds without harming the crop. Herbicide tolerant soybean is the most planted GM crop in the world – 75% of the global area devoted to soybean is planted to GM soybean.


Where are GM/biotech crops grown?

2017_faqs1cThe area planted to GM crops increased from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to over 185.1 million hectares in 2016, making biotech crops the fasted adopted crop technology in recent times.

In 2016, there were 26 countries planting biotech crops, comprised of 19 developing countries and 7 industrial countries. They were, in order of hectarage, USA, Brazil, Argentina, India, Paraguay, Pakistan, China, South Africa, Uruguay, Bolivia, Australia, Philippines, Myanmar, Spain, Sudan, Mexico, Colombia, Vietnam, Honduras, Chile, Portugal, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Slovakia, Czech Republic (ISAAA, 2016).

In the Philippines, the genetically engineered corn resistant to borer insects was first commercially planted in 2003. In 2016, the area planted to biotech maize in the Philippines increased to 812,000 hectares from 702,000 hectares in 2015 (ISAAA, 2016).


Why are GM/biotech crops not grown in some parts of the world?

Reasons why some countries do not grow GM crops may be as follows: the absence of a biosafety regulatory framework, public non-acceptance of GM products, and trade issues relating to organic farming.


What are the benefits of GM/biotech crops?

Among the documented benefits of GM crops include:

  • Higher crop yields
  • Reduced farm costs
  • Increased farm profit
  • Improved health and cleaner and safer environment
  • Improved soil quality

Are GM/biotech crops appropriate for developing countries?

2017_faqs1dDeveloping countries can benefit from GM crops by being able to increase food production, lower production cost and food prices, improve food quality and preserve the environment. The new generation of nutritionally enhanced GM crops could also play a key role in helping alleviate micronutrient malnutrition and generate affordable and accessible pharmaceuticals and vaccines for many developing countries.


What are the other potential benefits/uses of GM/biotech crops?

Food production – this is an area in which biotechnology plays a significant role in the production of ingredients, vitamins, starter cultures and enzymes for food processing.

Agriculture – fruits and vegetables can be improved in appearance, taste, nutrient content, storage life, resistance to certain pests and even stability under unfavorable climatic conditions.

Environmental management – biotechnology offers new opportunities for the protection of the environment. For example, genetically modified bacteria may one day be used to convert organic wastes to useful products or clean up oil spills.

Medicine – some types of insulin are examples of biotechnology products. Biotechnology also offers new methods for producing critical vaccines at a lower cost.


Will GM/biotech crops wipe out and replace varieties from traditional breeding? Why?

No, GM crops will in no way replace varieties from traditional breeding because genetic modification is only conducted to introduce important major genes to the already established and bred varieties. Genetic modification,
therefore, is conducted to further improve the already existing popular and high-yielding varieties.

Likewise, a transgenic variety can be used in crop improvement and breeding programs.


Why are GM/biotech foods assessed differently from traditional foods?

2017_faqs1eWith GM foods, most national authorities consider that specific assessments are necessary. Similar evaluations are generally not performed for traditional foods. Hence, there is a significant difference in the evaluation process prior to marketing for these two groups of food.

Generally, consumers consider that traditional foods (that have often been eaten for thousands of years) are safe. When new foods are developed by natural methods, some of the existing characteristics of foods can be altered, either in a positive or a negative way.

National food authorities may be called upon to examine traditional foods, but this is not always the case. Indeed, new plants developed through traditional breeding techniques may not be evaluated rigorously using risk assessment techniques.

 

Reference:
ISAAA. 2016. Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2016. ISAAA Brief No. 52. ISAAA: Ithaca, NY.

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