TOTE-ALLY BIOTECH: A Bag Print Design Contest

TOTE-ALLY BIOTECH: A Bag Print Design Contest


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)



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 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: Bt Eggplant

FAQs: Bt Eggplant

Eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) is a vegetable with worldwide importance. It can have oval, elongated and round fruits that are striped or plain-colored, ranging from dark purple, light purple, green, yellow to white. The fruits are used in many cuisines. They are boiled, stewed, roasted, pickled, fried, or baked. In the Philippines, eggplant is a popular ingredient in dishes such as pinakbet, torta, sinigang, ensalada, and kare-kare.

Why is eggplant important?

  • Eggplant is a good source of vitamins, fibers, and minerals.
  • Eggplant is the leading vegetable crop in the Philippines in terms of area and volume of production.
  • Small-scale farmers in many provinces grow eggplant and depend on it for their livelihood.

What are the major constraints to eggplant production?
Eggplant production suffers yield losses from pests, diseases and extreme environmental conditions. The most destructive insect pest of eggplant in the Philippines and other Asian countries is the Fruit and Shoot Borer (FSB). Eggplant yield losses from 51 to 73% due to FSB have been reported in the country.



How does FSB damage eggplant production?
FSB can cause significant yield loss and reduce the number of marketable fruits. Female moths deposit eggs mostly on eggplant leaves. Upon hatching, the young larvae, after an hour or two of probing, feed on the leaf tissues and tunnel inside shoots, resulting in wilting or drying up.

When the fruits are available, the caterpillar bores inside the fruit, producing feeding tunnels. This makes the fruits unfit for market.


How do farmers control and manage FSB?
The majority of farmers still rely on heavy use of insecticide sprays, which are mostly effective only against newly-hatched FSB caterpillars that have not yet tunneled into the plant. Farmers can also use different ways to control the pest such as:
• follow regular crop rotation or intercrop the eggplant with other vegetables;
• use nylon net barriers to protect plants from the insects;
• trap male insects using pheromones to prevent insect mating;
• grow eggplants in a screenhouse before transplanting into the field;
• judicious pesticide use to keep populations of natural enemies of FSB; and
• harvest fruits frequently.

How can biotechnology offer a better alternative to traditional control methods?
Because of time and resource constraints, smallscale farmers desire pest control methods that do not require additional labor and material inputs. Labor intensive control methods such as manual removal of infested shoots, trapping of insects and application of netting are usually ineffective. Intensive pesticide use often leads to environmental and health issues, and increases the total production costs. There are no existing commercial varieties of eggplants with high resistance to FSB in the Philippines, and FSB-resistance is difficult to produce using conventional plant breeding. By using biotechnology to introduce FSB-resistance in eggplant, farmers may benefit from high yields of good quality fruits. They may also save on production and labor costs as less pesticide will be necessary to control the FSB.

What is FSB-resistant eggplant?
FSB-resistant (FSBR) eggplant is an insect resistant eggplant developed with the help of biotechnology. Also called Bt eggplant or Bt brinjal, it produces a natural protein that makes it resistant to FSB. Once the FSB caterpillars feed on plant leaves, shoots and fruits, they stop eating and eventually die. The Bt protein in the biotech eggplant only affects FSB and does not affect humans, farm animals, and other non-target organisms.

Bt Eggplant

What institutions are working on the development of FSBR eggplant?
The Indian Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Limited (Mahyco) has developed a highly resistant biotech eggplant. These eggplant lines have been used as source of FSB resistant trait of biotech eggplants in India, Bangladesh and the Philippines. The Institute of Plant Breeding at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (IPB-UPLB) is currently developing FSBR eggplant for the Philippines through partnership with Mahyco and Cornell University, and with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSP II), the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) and Department of Agriculture of the Philippines.

Is FSBR eggplant safe to eat?
Before the FSBR eggplant is approved for commercial use, scientists andregulators ensure that it passes through many tests and safety assessments. In the Philippines, biosafety is evaluated in four stages:
(1) contained research in laboratories and screenhouses;
(2) small confined trials;
(3) multi-location field trials; and
(4) commercial release.

The National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) is responsible for evaluating the safety of FSBR eggplant under contained and confined conditions. The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and other regulatory agencies under the Department of Agriculture take charge of the safety assessment and monitoring during large field trials and prior to and after commercial release. In addition, the reduced use of chemicals on Bt eggplant will mean that less pesticide residue will remain on the fruit when it is brought to market.

Is FSBR eggplant already available in the market?
In the Philippines, this biotech eggplant is not yet commercially available. The promising varieties are still under the multilocation field trials and tests are continually being done to ensure safety and good performance of the product.

Once it is approved for commercial release, seeds will be made available to farmers. In India, similar FSBR eggplant varieties are near commercialization, and are in the later stages of evaluation and safety assessment.

For more information, contact: Dr. Desiree M. Hautea ABSPII Regional Coordinator and Product Development Manager, Email:, Institute of Plant Breeding University of the Philippines Los Baños College, Laguna 4031, Telefax: (63-49) 536-5140

United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

FAQs: Biotechnology and Its Applications

FAQs: Biotechnology and Its Applications


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.

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?

A 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 plantcells. 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?

Most early generation 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?

The area planted to GM crops increased from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 160 million hectares in 2011, with an
increasing proportion grown by developing countries.

In 2011, there were 29 countries planting biotech crops, comprised of 19 developing countries and 10 industrial
countries. They were, in order of hectarage, USA, Brazil, Argentina, India, Canada, China, Paraguay, Pakistan, South Africa, Uruguay, Bolivia, Australia, Philippines, Myanmar, Burkina Faso, Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Chile, Honduras, Portugal, Czech Republic, Poland, Egypt, Slovakia, Romania, Sweden, Costa Rica, and Germany (James, 2011).

In the Philippines, the genetically engineered corn resistant to borer insects was first commercially planted in 2002. With the subsequent introduction of a biotech corn resistant to herbicides, and those with combined traits, an
estimated area of 514,000 hectares have been planted by 270,000 farmers in 2010. And in 2011, it was estimated that 322,000 farmers planted GM corn in 644,000 hectares (James, 2011).

Where in the world are GM/biotech crops not grown?

As of 2011, GM crops are grown in 29 countries. Aside from this, 31 countries are importing GM crops for direct food and feed use or processing, including Korea, Japan, and Turkey, which started approving biotech crops for import in 2011. All in all, a total of 60 countries are directly propagating and/or importing GM crops for direct food and feed use or processing. Some of the countries not included in the list are currently conducting field tests, such as Indonesia.

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

Countries which do not grow GM crops have their own internal reasons, some of which include: the absence of a biosafety regulatory framework, public non-acceptance of GM products and trade issues relating to organic

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?

Developing 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 potential risks of GM/biotech crops?

With every emerging technology, there are potential risks which regulatory institutions review before they allow a GM crop to be grown commercially.

These include:

  • The danger of unintentionally introducing allergens, mutagens, carcinogens, teratogens and other antinutrition factors in foods that are detrimental to health.
  • The likelihood of transgenes escaping from cultivated crops into other close and wild relatives.
  • The potential for target pests to evolve resistance to the toxins produced by GM crops.
  • The risk of these toxins affecting non-target organisms.

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 that cost cheaper.

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.

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

Yes. With GM foods, most national authorities consider that specific assessments are necessary. Specific systems have been set up for the rigorous evaluation of GM organisms and GM foods relative to both human and other
animals’ health and the environment. 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.
Adapted from:
Information Resource Kit on Biotechnology produced by:

Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II
International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications
Institute of Plant Breeding, University of the Philippines Los Baños
Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development
Program for Biosafety Systems Southeast Asia
Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture
United States Agency for International Development

James, Clive. 2011. Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2011.  ISAAA Brief No. 43.  ISAAA: Ithaca, NY.