Are Engineered Foods Healthier?

Food is synonymous with Southeast Asia. From the mouth-watering delicacies on the streets of Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and the Philippines – just to name a few – to the Michelin starred restaurants that serve fine dining quality cuisine with a dash of authentic local flavours.

Yet, there is pressure on our food system to produce 70 percent more food to feed a population of 10 billion people globally by 2050. By then, the population of ASEAN is slated to reach 700 million and its food demand is estimated to increase by 40 percent. It is then imperative to achieve food security, without expanding crop or pastureland all while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

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Making PHL Agriculture Sexy

We have to make farming sexy,” asserts Emmanuel Ansah-Amprofi from Ghana, quoted in a New York Times article last week. A former immigration lawyer-turned-farmer, he is among a growing number of young, college-educated Africans out to show that agriculture can be exciting and profitable, and not the poor man’s profession it is commonly known to be.

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From Sky Farms to Lab-grown Shrimp, Singapore Eyes Food Future

Singapore, the tiny Southeast Asian city-state, is an unlikely place for a farming revolution.

With tiered fish farms, vegetable plots atop office buildings and lab-grown shrimp, the island aims to beef up its own food production and rely less on imports to feed its 5.6 million people.

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US to Help Pakistan Introduce Genetically-engineered Corn

The Foreign Agricultural Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said that future collaborative projects between the US and Pakistan include using American soybean feed in poultry, fish farming and dairy industries, introducing genetically-engineered maize and working with various government departments to develop uniform food safety standards.

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Department of Agriculture Pushes Accurate Info on Biotech Crops

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is preparing its regional offices to disseminate accurate information on biotech crops, so that negative perceptions against their promotion could be addressed.

Agriculture workers from the regional field offices (RFO) of the DA in Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon participated in a two-day workshop on biotech crops in San Fernando, Pampanga and Ilagan City, Isabela, respectively. The participants were briefed about the DA Biotech Program, biotech principles and applications, regulatory system, and locally developed biotechnology products such as Bt Talong (Bacillus thuringiensis) and Golden Rice.

Bt Eggplant (Image Credit: SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center)
Bt Eggplant (Image Credit: SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center)

Crispulo Bautista Jr., officer in charge and regional executive director of DA-Central Luzon, said it was imperative for agriculture workers to have accurate and useful information on biotechnology to ensure that the public receives factual and truthful information about biotechnology.

“I requested this biotech briefing for Region 3 from [former] director Mamaril so that our staff can learn about these technologies. Rest assured that the DA-RFO 3 (Central Luzon) will cascade the right information about biotechnology,” he said.

Golden Rice (Image credit: Philippine Rice Research Institute)
Golden Rice (Image credit: Philippine Rice Research Institute)

Safety, efficiency, effectiveness, market price and regulations of genetically modified organism crops and other biotech-related products were discussed.

Biotech products have to undergo rigorous and evidence-based assessments provided by the current regulatory system to be considered safe and effective, the resource speakers, including Segfredo Serrano, emphasized.

Serrano, the retired DA undersecretary for policy, planning, project development and research, also urged participants to engage and empower farmers to make evidence-based decisions on the use of biotech products in improving their livelihood.

“[Our regulatory system ensures] that only biotechnology initiatives that can benefit our people, demonstrate environmental integrity and respect farming practices will be approved. Our farmers [need] to have appreciation of science, so that they won’t have a culture of fear,” he said.

The DA-Biotechnology Program Office (DA-BPO), the Philippine Rice Research Institute and the International Rice Research Institute led the initiative.

DA-BPO plans to continue coordinating with the other regional offices of the Agriculture department to conduct more biotech seminars and training to bridge the information gap among agriculture workers.

 

Written by Conrad M. Cariño in The Manila Times. Read original article here.

Make Biotech Sexy Again

Not so long ago, biotechnology was touted as an industry that promised lucrative job opportunities. Many were taken by that promise. They lined up at colleges to enrol for the course. Universities competed to get students. Many eventually graduated, but the promised jobs were not there. This was understandable since the biotechnology industry then was still small. Many biotechnology graduates ended up working for banks selling credit cards!

Biotechnology is different now.

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PH Scientists Create Potential Super Antibiotic

Seventy years after its historic and global contribution, Iloilo is again poised to be the source of the next antibiotic discovery. Dr. Doralyn S. Dalisay of the Center for Chemical Biology and Biotechnology (C2B2) at the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City has found marine microbes with the potential of becoming the basic ingredient for a super antibiotic. Read more

Could India Become the Next Cell-cultured Meat Hub?

India has significant incentives for making these investments in research centers and supporting the development of lab-grown meat. The country seems to have the political will to encourage cellular agriculture. With a population of about 1.34 billion, it will likely need more protein products to keep pace as recent reports have warned that major changes are needed to feed the world’s population by 2050.

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From Lab to Field: Indonesian Scientists Develop New Crops for Farmers Using Nuclear Science

Farmers in Indonesia have over the last few years grown enough rice for more than 20 million people using plants developed through the country’s plant mutation breeding programme. The programme first took root through collaboration with the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1997 and has since grown into a comprehensive partnership network that brings the results of scientific research with nuclear techniques to farmers’ fields.

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