For more information, visit ISAAA’s website at http://www.isaaa.org.
For more information, visit ISAAA’s website at http://www.isaaa.org.
Message or narrative frames (or key messages or story lines grouped together in support of a particular message) in biotechnology more often than not pertain to agriculture and food production, or medicine. Both messages and narrative frames (that of agricultural production and medicine) suggests the linearity in a way biotechnology is currently viewed by the public. Such narratives may contain metaphors and frames that play an important role in the communication of science, and have direct impact on public opinion, and eventually, government policy. Such entrenched metaphors and frames can likewise contribute to the misunderstanding of the science itself.
The fifth Policy Brief, which is based on a recent study conducted by Dr. Maria Monina Cecilia A. Villena (Program Head of SEARCA’s Knowledge Management Department), explores how the public makes sense of message frames used by the government when disseminating information about genetic modification or biotechnology. It also explores the public’s (specifically, farmer leaders and traders) personal constructs about the science, and how these aid them when participating in societal discourse about GM crops.
Substantially, results of the study suggest that although biotechnology adoption is seen as a major element in the promotion of Philippine agricultural development, the communication gap may be well placed in the numerous communication channels and networks involved in the numerous advocacy efforts. Hence, future science communication efforts need to be based on a systematic and empirical understanding of the audience’s values, knowledge, and attitudes in relation to the respective interpersonal and social contexts.
Conventional plant breeding using the backcrossing procedure can be time consuming, expensive, and imprecise. In addition to time and cost limitations, it does not allow transfer of genes between species which are genetically distantly related and sexually incompatible.
With the advances in modern technology, new plant breeding techniques have emerged which not only allow transfer of genes from unrelated species to produce transgenics or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) but also allow introduction of precise, predictable modifications in an elite genetic background, avoiding the mess and cost associated with sorting tens and thousands of genes mixed up in conventional plant breeding.
In the fourth Policy Brief, Dr. Emil Q. Javier expounds on a novel genetic technique, the CRISPR/Cas9 system which has wide applications in plant and animal breeding as well as in drug development and human gene therapy. CRISPR, which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, is a natural immune defense system found in lower forms of organisms like bacteria and has been tweaked to work in higher plants, animals including man as a precise, relatively quick and inexpensive method of genome editing.
Despite the long enunciated national policy on safe, responsible use of modern biotechnology, a few local government units in the Philippines have unilaterally passed resolutions and ordinances banning genetically modified (GM) crops in their respective jurisdictions. Across the globe, particularly in Europe, there are still many skeptics who refuse to recognize the potential value to mankind of GMO technology in crops to enhance farmers’ income, raise yields, improve adaptation to drought and other environment stresses, as well as to increase their nutritive value.
In the third Policy Brief, Dr. Emil Q. Javier, a member of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and Chair of the Coalition for Agricultural Modernization in the Philippines (CAMP), puts a spotlight on the scientific consensus in favor of GMO technology based on published statements of the world’s leading academies of science and responsible agencies.
These statements essentially validate the potential of GMO technology to increase and improve the efficiency of production of main food staples, reduce the environmental impact of agriculture, and provide access to food for small-scale farmers. The scientific community also concurred that GMO technology is safe and that no effects on human health have been shown as a result of consumption of GM foods.
Authored by the Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines (CAMP), the paper highlights the urgent need for strong political support for biotechnology and biotech crops as well as streamlined biosafety regulations in the Philippines.
Specifically, the need to enact a national law that will support and accelerate science-based innovations and technology, reduce time-consuming regulations, and provide an enabling environment for Filipino scientists to produce high-yielding, pest-resistant biotech crops that could survive in different ecosystems throughout the Philippines and support the country’s continuously ballooning population.
Regulatory approval times for genetically modified (GM) crops are increasing in many countries. The impact of unjustified regulatory delays due to inefficiencies, lack of coordination or unnecessary and redundant requirements can be devastating. Regulatory delays may especially affect the public sector and international R&D investments which are particularly intended to address needs in developing countries.
The study sought to analyze the economic impact of regulatory delays for GM crops. The authors concluded in their study that longer regulatory delays are associated with higher investment risk which could discourage investors to invest in the development of a GM crop. Results of the analysis emphasize the need for regulators, decision-makers, and developers to reduce time delays and increase the efficiency of coordinating decision points along the product development cycle — for R&D, regulatory review, and compliance to optimize costs and time in delivering a product.
For further information, visit ISAAA’s website at http://www.isaaa.org.
This report summarizes the accomplishments of ISAAA SEAsiaCenter and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA BIC) in 2017 focused on bringing the benefits of biotechnology to help uplift the lives of the Filipinos.
The Joint Department Circular (JDC) titled Rules and Regulations for the Research and Development, Handling and Use, Transboundary Movement, Release into the Environment, and Management of Genetically-Modified Plant and Plant Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology was approved and signed by the secretaries of the Philippine government’s Departments of Agriculture (DA), Science and Technology (DOST), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Health (DOH), and Interior and Local Government (DILG) on March 7, 2016. The JDC was drafted in response to the nullification of the DA Administrative Order No. 8 by the Supreme Court last December 8, 2015.
It was the product of five multi-sectoral public consultations held by the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP). After the release of the JDC, ISAAA, together with its partners initiated public briefings to different key provinces and cities in the Philippines. The objective of the briefing was to inform the farmers, traders, consumer groups, students, extension workers, and other stakeholders about the changes in the regulations.
The stakeholders who attended the JDC briefings expressed their appreciation of the activities which equipped them not just with knowledge about the regulations but also more appreciation of biotechnology. It is one of the most powerful strategies of ISAAA to continually engage the influential stakeholders and empower them to actively participate in the biotech dialogue.
ISAAA also continues to provide support to enable transfer of appropriate biotechnologies, particularly the fruit and shoot borer resistant eggplant known in the Philippines as Bt talong.
ISAAA and SEARCA BIC conducted a 17-year media study (2000-2016) to analyze the trends in Philippine print and online reporting on modern crop biotechnology. The study is part of the Know the Science project funded by the Philippine Department of Agriculture’s Biotechnology Program Office (BPO). The result of the study was published in the April 2017 issue of Philippine Journal of Crop Science and presented in the 24th Scientific Conference of the Federation of Crop Science Societies of the Philippines (FCSSP).
The study, which reviewed 2,219 articles from top Philippine newspapers (Manila Bulletin, Philippine Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Business Mirror), showed that over the past 17 years of reporting, the Philippine media exhibited a mature editorial stance on biotechnology, which happened gradually through the years. This is manifested by the decrease in the number of articles in negative tone; increase in the use of metaphors relating to potential/promise; decline in the use of biotech critics as sources of information; and increase in the number of articles framed towards social progress, highlighting the positive impact of crop biotechnology. For the past seven years (2010-2016), the top sources of information on biotechnology were Dr. Clive James (ISAAA Founder and Emeritus Chair) and ISAAA. It was recommended that media practitioners and scientists must continue to collaborate to sustain the public interest on the technology.
ISAAA also presented the study through different publications such as booklets, infographics, and blogs to highlight the findings.
With the new regulations implemented in the Philippines, regional public briefings were organized by ISAAA, SEARCA BIC, and the Philippine Department of Agriculture. Around 800 key stakeholders attended the four regional briefings held in Cebu City, Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City and Pampanga. The participants, including members of the consumer groups, regulators, farmer-leaders, faculty and students, information officers, and staff and officials of the local government units, were given lectures on the different tools and applications of modern biotechnology, environmental and food safety issues, biotech crops commercially available in the country and elsewhere, and biotech crops being developed and in the pipeline. Representatives of the five government agencies (Agriculture, Science and Technology, Health, Environment and Natural Resources, and Interior and Local Government) involved in the development and implementation of the new regulatory system were also present during the briefings to address the concerns of the public.
ISAAA, in collaboration with the Philippine DA-Biotech Program Office (DA-BPO), provided travel support to DA staff attending high level policy symposium/dialogue organized by international organizations including the ASEAN Genetically Modified Food (GMF) Testing Network (Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar) and APEC HLPDAB Meeting and other APEC ministerial meetings in Can Thó, Vietnam.
Together with DA-BPO, ISAAA also conducted activities for the creation and promotion of a legislative agenda supporting agri-biotech development in the Philippines. A series of focused group discussions and consultations with key stakeholders and members of the legislature were executed.
Under a collaborative project with DA-BPO, ISAAA organized a study visit to the Philippines for Bangladesh biosafety regulators, as requested by the Department of Environment – Implementation of the National Biosafety Framework (INBF) Project of Bangladesh. Five Bangladesh regulators attended a regulations briefing at the DA headquarters, introduction to the Bt eggplant project at UPLB-IPB, discussions with the Golden Rice researchers at the International Rice Research Institute, field visits to commercial Bt corn fields and eggplant farms in Tarlac and Pangasinan.
A seminar was co-organized by ISAAA, SEARCA BIC, and Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) Philippines wherein PBS Senior Legal Consultant, Atty. Gregory Jaffe presented the major obstacles in getting biotech crops to farmers. The obstacles discussed were socio-economic considerations, multiple agency review, labeling, and legal court challenges. An example cited was the court case filed against Bt eggplant in the Philippines which is more of a procedural issue than a technical one. According to Atty. Jaffe, the key is transparent and predictable biosafety regulatory procedures that anticipate and address the said issues before a product is approved for release. The seminar was attended by students, researchers, and key scientists and experts from the University of the Philippines Los Baños scientific community.
ISAAA, SEARCA BIC, and the DA Biotech Program Office informed print, TV, and radio reporters covering court
cases in the Philippines about the background and details of the Joint Department Circular (JDC) through a roundtable discussion.
Topics presented were the history of the National Biosafety Framework, the overview of the Bt eggplant court case which led to the JDC, and the JDC and Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry (DABPI) processes for biosafety applications. Critical analysis and comparison of the DA Administrative Order (AO) No. 8 and the JDC were also discussed.
Twenty-nine (29) senior high school students and their science teachers from Isabela, Laguna, Iloilo, Cebu, Davao,
and Cagayan De Oro were enlightened on the issues and trends in agriculture and agri-biotech during the Agribiotech Boot Camp for Senior High School Students at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study
and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines.
The activity was conducted to create awareness and build interest in agriculture and introduce traditional and modern biotech as a career among the students. The boot camp is a build-up activity for the 13th National Biotechnology Week celebrated on November 20-24, 2017 at Fisher Mall, Quezon City.
Aside from lectures, briefings and study visits to the biotech laboratories and facilities of the University of the
Philippines Los Baños – Institute of Plant Breeding (UPLB IPB) and UPLB-National Institute of Molecular Biology
and Biotechnology (UPLB-BIOTECH), and the Rice World Museum of the International Rice Research Institute
(IRRI) were also conducted. Interactive games relatedto biotech were facilitated by student organizations
University of the Philippines League of Agricultural Biotechnology Students (UP LABS) and UP Genetic
Researchers and Agricultural Innovators Society (UP GRAINS).
ISAAA social media managers shared some techniques on how to promote agricultural innovations such as
biotechnology to a wider reach through social media. Information officers from the DA regional offices attended the workshops held in Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City, and Pampanga and learned how to develop and execute a social media plan, create visually engaging and informative posts, and harness the power of storytelling in engaging the public.
Asian Farmers Regional Network (ASFARNET) Philippines, PhilRice, and DA-Biotech Program Office, in collaboration with ISAAA and SEARCA BIC, organized a trainers’ training-workshop on agri-biotechnology. The products, science, safety, and potential benefits of biotechnology as well as strategies and skills for biotech communication were presented to farmer-leaders and members of ASFARNET from all over the country.
Tackled in the training were the development of Golden Rice in the Philippines, science communication, local
government communication support strategies, and social media for biotech communication, among others.
The group also visited the Philippine Carabao Center and the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and
ISAAA and SEARCA BIC used the power of social media to educate the Filipinos about the science behind crop biotechnology through the #KnowTheScience campaign. It is part of the information, education, and communication (IEC) project with DA-Biotech Program.
The campaign aims to educate the Filipino public about biotech crops and the technology by understanding the science behind them through major social media networks namely: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram. The campaign uses scientific and evidence-based leverage of biotech crops through studies published on its safety, and actual and potential benefits.
It highlights the personal stories and experiences of people who adopt (farmers, consumers) or develop (scientists) biotech crops. Among the outputs of the campaign are infographics, biotech trivia, and biotech stories.
The number of social media users who liked Know The Science reached over 1,000 in December 2017. The pages
have been liked and followed by students, high school teachers, college instructors, researchers, scientists, bloggers, government organizations, and communication specialists.
Over 700 gameboard kits of #BiotechisCool were distributed by ISAAA during the Philippine National Biotechnology Week. Copies of other ISAAA publications were also distributed to the attendees of the event.
The biotech-on-air radio program Radyo Teknolohiya continues to reach the public through DZRB Radyo ng Bayan aired weekly in all provinces of the Philippines.
The program covered various issues on biotech including research updates, science communication, the new national regulations, animal biotech, and agricultural modernization.
As part of ISAAA and SEARCA BIC’s continuing effort to inform the public about biotech crops in the pipeline, a
roundtable discussion on Bt eggplant was held for the members of the to the Vegetable Industry Council of Southern Mindanao (VicsMin), a non-profit organization that advocates policies beneficial to the vegetable industry in the region and has 40 active member institutions and 20 individual farmers.
Bt eggplant study leader Dr. Lourdes Taylo discussed the science, safety, and the potential actual benefits of modern biotechnology, particularly Bt eggplant. The group expressed its full support for the commercial planting of Bt eggplant in the country by signing a one-page manifesto of support. VicsMin also expressed support for all the public advocacy efforts that will conducted for Bt eggplant. Other members also offered their land as possible sites of demonstration farms for Bt eggplant.
Bt eggplant study leader and entomologist from the Institute of Plant Breeding – University of the Philippines Los Baños Dr. Lourdes D. Taylo shares her experiences and lessons from working in the field of biotechnology
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.
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.
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. Read more
Ms. Kristine Grace Natividad-Tome, Program Associate of Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) discusses the knowledge sharing initiatives of ISAAA on all aspects of crop biotechnology for all stakeholders, including consumers, farmers, policy makers, scientists, and the media in Philippines and other developing countries.
Listen to the interview of Radyo ng Bayan with Ms. Tome that was aired in DZRB Radyo ng Bayan, 738 kHZ on 6 January 2017.
Listen to the interview of Radyo Teknolohiya with Mr. Charles Anthony Vega, Local Government Operations Officer III of the Bureau of Local Government Supervision-Department of Interior Local Government (DILG), Philippines as he talks about the local government initiatives and his views on the Joint Department Circular, a new biotech policy in the country that supersedes the Administrative Order No. 8.
Fr. Emmanuel Noli Alparce, a Filipino Catholic priest, tackles the moral and ethical stance of the Catholic Church on biotechnology and shares his experiences in biotech advocacy in the Philippines. He was appointed in 2014 as a member of the technical committee on information, education and communication of the Department of Agriculture’s biotechnology program on agriculture and fisheries, and in 2001 was selected to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program of the US State Department to study biotechnology, agriculture and food safety in the United States.
Here’s the interview of Radyo Teknolohiya with Fr. Noli that was aired in DZRB Radyo ng Bayan, 738 kHZ on 14 October 2016.
Joseph Benemerito, a biotech corn farmer from Alfonso Lista, Ifugao, Philippines, shares his experiences in biotech corn farming and how biotechnology improve his life. Listen to the interview of Ms. Melly Tenorio, Radio Program Anchor of Radyo Teknolohiya, aired in DZRB Radyo ng Bayan, 738 kHZ on 26 August 2016.
On average, GMOs take 13 years and US$130 million of R&D before coming to market. And the regulatory process alone can take 5 to 7 years. This has been illustrated in the infographic developed by GMOAnswers.com:
From 1996 to 2014, biotech crops contributed to Food Security, Sustainability and the Environment/Climate Change by: increasing crop production valued at US$150 billion; providing a better environment, by saving 584 million kg a.i. of pesticides; in 2014 alone, reducing CO2 emissions by 27 billion kg, equivalent to taking 12 million cars off the road for one year; conserving biodiversity by saving 152 million hectares of land from 1996-2014; and helped alleviate poverty for ~16.5 million small farmers and their families totaling ~65 million people, who are some of the poorest people in the world. Biotech crops are essential but are not a panacea – adherence to good farming practices such as rotations and resistance management, are a must for biotech crops as they are for conventional crops.
Source: ISAAA Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology (http://isaaa.org/kc)
Following a remarkable run of 19 years of consecutive yearly growth from 1996 to 2014, the annual global hectarage of biotech crops peaked at 181.5 million in 2014, compared with 179.7 million hectares in 2015, equivalent to a net marginal year-to-year decrease of 1.0% between 2014 and 2015. Some countries increased their total plantings, whilst others reduced their hectarage principally due to the current low prices of commodity crops; these hectarage decreases are likely to revert to higher hectarage levels when crop prices improve. The global hectarage of biotech crops increased 100-fold from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 179.7 million hectares in 2015, making biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in recent times.
Source: ISAAA Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology (http://isaaa.org/kc)