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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

Government to roll out rice-research software

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said it is developing an analysis tool that would allow researchers to fast-track the breeding of new stress-tolerant rice varieties to help farmers cope with climate change.

Read more

Advocates seek a law on modern biotech

WHAT’S 5.41 years, or 65 months, or 1,950 days? That’s how long it takes to get all the requirements before genetically modified (GM) products can be released in the market.

Perhaps not many know it, but that’s what is happening in the Philippines.

And it means lost opportunities for the country in terms of exports, lost opportunities for farmers and lost opportunities as well for scientists and researchers.

Read more

Two Filipino inventions receive gold recognition in Geneva tilt

Two Filipino inventions made quite a mark in the 46th International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva (Geneva Inventions) in Switzerland held from April 11 to 15: the Portable Smart Surface System and Biotek-M Dengue Aqua Kit.

Each won a gold medal in the highly-prestigious competition, while Smart Surface also came home with a “Jury Distinction” to boot.

Read more

Digital ‘farm-to-market road’ breaks ground

In the near future, the country’s farmers could start selling their produce in a digital market, thanks to students who believe they have finally found a way to make food producers richer.

An online database platform called “e-magsasaka” hopes to reduce the involvement of middlemen in marketing crops and eventually increase farmer profits by 20 percent and keep prices at an affordable level, said a group of graduates who took home the P250,000-prize in the first Innovation Olympics organized by East-West Seeds.

Read more