Davao stakeholders updated on crop biotech and Philippine biosafety guidelines

Various key stakeholder groups: regulators, farmer leaders, students, scientists, academe, DA information officers, and members and officials of local government units of selected municipalities in Davao region in the Philippines learned about the science, food and environmental safety, and socioeconomic benefits of biotech crops, as well as the biosafetyregulatory guidelines in the country, during the Biotechnology 101 & Joint Department Circular (JDC) Public Briefing held on August 16, 2017 at The Pinnacle Hotel and Suites, Davao City.

JDC biotech Davao biosafety
Representatives from the five government agencies of the JDC during the open forum, as moderated by Fr. Emmanual Alparce (far right) of DA-BPO. (Photo credit: DA-Region XI)

In the open forum, several farmer-leaders expressed their concern on the delay in the commercialization of beneficial agri-technologies such as biotech crops due to the complexity of the new JDC. They hope that layers of regulation may be lessened, especially with the overwhelming scientific evidence of the safety of biotech crops. Representatives from the five concerned departments of the JDC — the Departments of Agriculture, Science and Technology, Health, Environment and Natural Resources, and the Interior and Local Government — were also present during the open forum to clarify stakeholders’ queries about the agencies’ roles particularly when it comes to public participation, and environmental and health safety issues.

Also presented in the briefing were biotech crops in the pipeline such as the vitamin A-enriched Golden Rice and pest resistant Bt ‘talong’ (eggplant), which farmers were eager to plant because of its expected benefits in terms of farm inputs, particularly insecticides.

The activity was organized by ISAAA, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture-Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA BIC), Department of Agriculture (DA)-Biotechnology Program Office, and DA-Regional Field Office XI.