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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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.

Is Philippine Agriculture Ready for Industry 4.0?

Is the country’s agriculture sector ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0 (ID4)? So far there are no clear answers, but let me explain what advantages ID4 can offer to the country’s farming and fisheries industries. ID4 offers a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, thus impacting businesses, economies and industries, including agriculture.

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Agri-Biotech Stakeholders Convene For Pan-Asia Farmer’s Exchange Program

Forty-three delegates from 10 Asian countries composed of farmer-leaders, scientists and the academia, media, as well as representatives from government and private institutions gathered for the week-long 13th Pan-Asia Farmers’ Exchange Program held on April 1-5, 2019 in Manila, Philippines.

Discussions focused on communicating biotech in the Philippines, the country’s biosafety regulations for biotech crops, insect resistance management program, the current status of agri-biotech in each country, and plant breeding innovations. The group also went to a commercial Bt corn farm in the province of Tarlac and paid a visit to the International Rice Research Institute as well as the Corteva Seed Processing Plant to learn about their projects and see the research facilities first-hand.

Participants of the 13th Pan-Asia Farmers' Exchange Program
Participants of the 13th Pan-Asia Farmers’ Exchange Program

The exchange program, which was first conducted in 2007, was organized by CropLife Asia, CropLife Philippines, and the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines. It aims to serve as a platform for knowledge sharing and exchange on agricultural biotechnology where the delegates learn how biotech crops go through a stringent, science-based regulatory process to ensure their safety to humans and animals and to the environment, how they are managed at farm level, and how they benefit the farmers and their communities.

 

Written by Danellie Joy O. Medina, SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center

Legislators Apprised on PHL Biosafety Regulations

More than 100 Legislative officials from the House of Representatives and selected members of the Philippine Judicial Academy (Philja) were apprised on the Philippine regulatory system for genetically modified crops in a briefing held at the House of Representatives on February 27.

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Lawyers favor agri-biotech in food and medicines

Filipino lawyers favor the application of agri-biotech in food and medicines, a study conducted by the University of the Philippines Los Baños-College of Development Communication (UPLB-CDC) found. Read more

Science for Change

Beyond the stellar performance and numerous achievements of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in 2018, such as the launch of the country’s second microsatellite Diwata 2 and the signing of the Balik Scientist law, among others, Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña expressed his drive to improve three key areas: manpower, infrastructure and innovation.

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GMO Corn is Transforming Farmers’ Lives in the Philippines 

“Before now, I didn’t sleep well when I planted corn in my field,” recalled Edwin Paraluman, a farmer from the Philippines. “I was always afraid that I would wake up one day to find my corn field destroyed by the corn borer. This is because the corn borer in the Philippines does not respect any season, it is always there in the corn field.”

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Forest Tree Species Undergo ‘Genetic Diversity’ Assessment

To boost the production and ensure the constant supply of quality wood, five forest tree species—the Benguet pine, bagalunga, molave, ipil and narra—have been placed under “genetic diversity” assessment by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Read more

Nobel Laureate Rallies Global Support in Favor of GMOs

The Los Baños scientific community came out in full force to welcome Sir Richard J. Roberts, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, at his recent conferment of the Degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, by the University of the Philippines (UP) for his contributions in the field of molecular biology on November 21, 2018 at UP Los Baños in Laguna, Philippines.

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Re-engineering Food

Supermarket shelves in the United States would soon be featuring the next generation of biotech food. An Associated Press report, for example, revealed the advent of granola bars made with genetically tweaked soybean oil that is heart-healthy. Foods from plants or animals that had their DNA “edited” are expected to begin selling by early next year. “Gene editing” is a different technology than the so-called genetically modified foods. It is “more like faster breeding that promises to boost nutrition, spur crop growth and make farm animals hardier, and fruits and vegetables last longer.”

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PHILIPPINES: Nat’l Biotech Week 2018 spotlights science, solutions, and social awareness

The National Biotechnology Week is an annual celebration of biotechnology in the Philippines, officially set every third week of November by Presidential Proclamation No. 1414. The celebration highlights the role of biotechnology across vital sectors in the Philippines, from agriculture to the youth. The 2018 NBW happens from November 13 to 17 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. Read more