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.
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)
This monograph covers the extracted and modified section of ISAAA Brief 49: Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2014 . It features a comprehensive overview of the adoption, impact and future prospects of biotech crops in the Philippines.
PUBLISHED BY: International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) and SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center.
CITATION: Aldemita, Rhodora R., Villena, Maria Monina Cecilia A., and Clive James. 2015. Biotech Corn in the Philippines: A Country Profile. Los Baños, Laguna: International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) and Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture - Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA BIC).
Biotech corn adoption in the Philippines increased at an average of 5% annually since it was planted in 2003. The Philippine regulatory system established since 1992, revised and updated in 1999, 2002, and 2006 with various amendments and supporting memoranda set the adoption of biotech corn in the Philippines. Research institutions that were established to conduct research on biotechnology have been amply supported by government and international sources. Scientists and government continue to support biotech crop research in the Philippines with locally-developed biotech crops in the pipeline: beta carotene-enriched rice, insect resistant eggplant and cotton, and virus resistant papaya. Farmers and farmer leaders express support for biotech crops and share their stories on how they are benefiting from the technology.
Over the weekend, more than 2,500 of the world’s experts, practitioners, policymakers and business innovators began to gather in Sweden to advance thinking and develop solutions to our planet’s most critical natural resource, water. The theme for the 25th World Water Week meeting, organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), is “Water for Sustainable Growth.”
The world’s leading thinkers and doers will build on the decisive sustainability actions of the past year, the United Nation’s agenda for 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Conference of the Parties agreement made in Paris (COP21), and collaborate on how today’s innovation in water stewardship will help us produce food, energy and jobs well into the future. They will all bring different solutions to address the challenge of our age: doing more with less.
Every day, our farmers are using new tools and technology to do more with less so they can solve for water efficiency. One of our farmers, Lawson Mozley, is a sixth generation farmer whose family has farmed the same land in the Florida Panhandle since the 1850s. For Mozley and other farmers, water is critical to delivering their mission to feed their families, communities and the world.
“For farmers, water represents balance. Not enough and our crops won’t grow. Too much, and they will drown and we will lose nutrients as they flow away.” Drought and water scarcity, on the rise since the 1970s, are challenging farmers to use less water to grow more food. And many are turning to biotechnology and GM crops to protect the sustainability of their natural resources and their livelihoods.
Farmers like Mozley embrace biotechnology solutions because they offer tools to help them use less water and breed stronger, more drought-tolerant plants. The use of herbicide resistant GM crops allows them to adopt conservation tillage or no-till practices, which preserves nutrients and increases the amount of water the land can store. Mozley says that “preserving soil and water resources is key to agricultural sustainability. For generations, my family has used the best technology available to preserve the land and water that we depend on.”
From the Florida Panhandle to the African nation of Tanzania, more farmers are looking to change what they plant and how they farm to combat severe drought that results from the extreme changes in weather patterns. Dr. Esther Ngumbi, a research scientist at Auburn University and Kenyan native, believes biotechnology can have a hand in helping farmers both in the U.S. and in her homeland thrive in the face of adversity. “As they face a continuous decline of rainfall and recurring droughts, African farmers will need all the tools and resources they can get to adapt to the effects of climate change. Biotechnology will continue to play a big role and farmers should be open to considering planting genetically modified crop varieties that have been bred to grow with minimal amounts of water.”
Farmers, no matter where they are located, all face the balancing act of feeding the hungry and caring for the land. The efficient and thoughtful use of water is critical to our farmers’ ability to deliver on their two-pronged missions, and the effectiveness of GMOs and GM crops has earned an important place in farming toolboxes.
-Written by Kate Hall in Forbes.com. Kate Hall is managing director of the Council for Biotechnology Information and GMO Answers spokesperson. See article link here.
Dr. Lourdes Taylo, scientist from the University of the Philippines Los Banos – Institute of Plant Breeding, shared the potential benefits of the development of Bt eggplant in the Philippines in the morning show, “Good Morning, Pilipinas!”, aired on local TV channel (PTV 4) in the country last 12 August 2016.
1st Prize, Amateur: Potential Benefits of Bt Eggplant
Michaella Louise V. Candelario
University of the Philippines Los Banos / UP Agricultural Society
1st Prize, Amateur: Biotech in Everyday Life
Marielle C. Cruz
Polytechnic University of the Philippines