IRRI’s Los Baños Rice Genebank Set to Receive Permanent Funding

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has set a funding pact with nonprofit organization Crop Trust to conserve and secure the world’s largest rice collection. The agreement guarantees US$ 1.4 million per year for IRRI’s rice genebank in Los Baños, Laguna. The facility, which houses 136,000 varieties of rice, has been called the world’s “largest rice bowl.”

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Drought Tolerant Lines Improved Through Mutation

Good harvest under drought condition is now possible with the development of five breeding lines that can thrive well even with less water in rainfed areas.

Bred by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the drought-screened (DrS) lines include DrS 1062, DrS 1085, DrS 1061, DrS 1042, and DrS 1057. The lines, which are identified under moderate to severe drought conditions, were developed from NSIC Rc 9 (Apo).

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Farmers in Mindanao to Explore Agri-biotech Farming

Over 120 farmer leaders around Mindanao agreed to explore and use modern biotechnology as an alternative way in farming.

Asian Farmer Regional Network-Davao Region representative Eduardo V. Bernadas, in an interview with SunStar Davao on Wednesday, September 5, said he and his fellow farmers are highly interested in growing biotech products now that they have a clearer and better understanding about science-based farming.

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Farmers Sign Support for Biotechnology

Farmer-leaders from Mindanao have signified their support for the application of modern biotechnology tools in agriculture, even as they keenly await the commercial release of “Pinoy biotech crops.”

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How a Banana Tissue Culture is Now Helping the Industry

Dr. Remedios Flamiano’s now multi-million banana tissue culture business, an application of plant biotechnology, was initially a failure, out of her frustration from being a low-paid instructor at a state university.

With no money on hand, and only the support of her husband, who agreed to turn their bedroom in General Santos City into a laboratory for her banana tissue culture, the award-winning scientist-turned-entrepreneur can now grow and culture her banana tissues in her P5-million laboratory after she received support from the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program (Setup) in 2014.

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Biotech Crops Winning the GMO Debate with Continuing Expansion

Even as the debate over the safety of genetic modification rages on, farmers worldwide are voting with their pockets as they continue to plant more biotech crops. For 2017, global hectarage of biotech (bt) crops increased 4.7 million hectares over the previous year i.e. from 185.1 million hectares to 189.8 million hectares, an increase of three percent.

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PhilRice Kicks Off Golden Rice Consultation

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has began the public consultation on the proposal for the field trial application of genetically modified Golden Rice (GR2E) variety in the Philippines.

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Dr. Randy Hautea: Global advocate for farmers and biotechnology

Dr. Randy A. Hautea dedicated his career to improving the lives of smallholder farmers, especially in developing nations.

As a plant breeder and global coordinator of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA), he was committed to using biotechnology to breed crops that can help smallholder farmers succeed and ensuring that farmers have access to innovation.

“Biotechnology is one of the tools necessary in helping farmers grow more food on less land,” Dr. Hautea told a Nigerian newspaper last year. “However, the promises of biotech crops can only be unlocked if farmers are able to buy and plant these crops, following a scientific approach to regulatory reviews and approvals.”

Dr. Hautea died July 18 in the Philippines, where he resided with his wife, Desiree, who is also a plant scientist.

“I was privileged to have Randy as my student while he was earning his doctorate in plant breeding at Cornell University,” said Dr. Ronnie Coffman, director of International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (IP-CALS). “He was a fine researcher, with a passion for plants and a passion for helping the farmers who grow them. His dedication to advancing agriculture will be acutely missed.”

Dr. Hautea received his M.Sc. and B.Sc. degrees in agronomy and plant breeding from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños, and was a visiting scientist in agronomy and plant genetics at the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Hautea was internationally respected for his significant contributions to the understanding and improvement of crops, especially field legumes and fibers. His research focused on breeding crops that were tolerant to various stresses and adapted to intensive cropping systems, as well as improving seed quality.

In recognition of his research achievements, the National Academy of Science and Technology of the Philippines awarded Dr. Hautea its “Outstanding Young Scientist” prize in plant breeding in 1995.

Professionally, Dr. Hautea was director of the Institute of Plant Breeding at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños and team leader of the Philippines’ national commodity research and development teams for legumes, vegetables and root crops before assuming leadership of ISAAA’s South East Asia Center in 1998. He also was involved in assessing the international agricultural research centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

Dr. Hautea went on to become global coordinator of ISAAA, a non-profit organization engaged in facilitating the assessment, acquisition, transfer and management of biotechnology applications for the benefit of developing countries. ISAAA operates principally in Southeast Asia and East Africa and is instrumental in tracking the cultivation of biotech crops throughout the world, annually releasing a report that documents the adoption of biotechnology by farmers across the globe, especially in developing nations.

“Randy was an inspiration to all of us who worked in crop biotechnology in developing countries,” said Dr. Tony Shelton, a Cornell entomologist who collaborated with Dr. Hautea on several scientific papers. “He and his wife Des were a dynamic force, showing us all what can be accomplished with dedication, hard work and knowledge.”

As a staunch advocate for biotechnology, Dr. Hautea served on the advisory board of the Cornell Alliance for Science, a global communications and training initiative that seeks to promote access to scientific innovation as a means of enhancing food security, improving environmental sustainability and raising the quality of life globally.

“Randy was deeply committed to our mission, which was reflected in his own life’s work,” said Dr. Sarah Evanega, director of the Alliance. “In honor of his memory, and his great contributions to crop biotechnology, we will name a Randy A. Hautea Global Leadership Fellow from the Philippines to attend our training course this fall.”

In addition to his wife, Dr. Hautea is survived by his daughter, Samantha, a communications specialist at Cornell University who is a member of the IP-CALS staff.

-Written by Joan Conrow in Cornell Alliance for Science.  See original article link here.

Biotechnology: Probable Solution to Food Scarcity in the Future

According to the Commission on Population, the Philippines will be home to 107.19 million people by the end of 2018. With the increasing number of Filipinos every year, food shortage is likely to happen in the future. Issues such as climate change especially rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns also pose a major challenge for sustainable agriculture and food security.

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Smart Tech to Help PHL Achieve Sustainable Agri Goals

The Philippines is hoping to modernize and strengthen its agriculture sector, with both the state and private companies promoting the adoption of advanced technology and smart farming methods to increase harvests and minimize losses.

In early April officials broke ground on the country’s first state-funded smart farm, part of the P128-million ($2.5-million) Smart Plant Production in Controlled Environments (SPICE) program, designed to develop and promote urban farming and high-tech plant conservation.

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Golden Rice Bags International Food Safety Nod

The controversial Golden Rice, which is still being pushed in the Philippines, got a positive evaluation from the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), concurring the variety’s safety and nutrition.

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