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.
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.
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.