Ensuring Safety of Biotech Crops for the Food and Feed Industry

In order to provide consumers updated science-based information on the benefits and the unblemished safety record of biotech products, the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines (BCP) worked with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture-Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA-BIC) in organizing a forum on the development and adoption of biotech crops for food and feed in the Philippines.

Bt Eggplant Project Leader, Dr. Desiree Huatea from the UPLB-Institute of Plant Breeding discusses the crop's history of food safety during the forum.
Bt Eggplant Project Leader, Dr. Desiree Huatea from the UPLB-Institute of Plant Breeding discusses the crop’s history of food safety during the forum.

During the forum, around 50 participants coming from different food manufacturing companies, technology developers, and members of the academe had the opportunity to interact with the country’s leading technology developers to discuss the government’s regulatory processes. They also discussed genetically modified crops that are currently being developed like beta-carotene-enriched golden rice to improve nutritional status in the Philippines, and the Bacillus thuringensis eggplant (Bt talong) with embedded resistance to the fruit and shoot borer.

Dr. Rey Ordonio, Healthier Rice project leader at PhilRice, shared that Golden Rice harvests were recently completed without issue in the field trial sites in Nueva Ecija and Isabela. The aim is to apply for commercial propagation, once a certificate of satisfactory completion of field trial has been issued by the Bureau of Plant Industry.

University of the Philippines School of Economics Professor Dr. Ramon L. Clarete also discussed the economic value of genetically modified corn (Bt corn) for the Philippines. In 2003, the Philippine government approved the commercial release of Bt corn for food and feed, the first in Asia.

According to Dr. Saturnina Halos, BCP President, “as scientists, it is our responsibility to ensure that biotech products are safe and that our citizens, most especially our policymakers, are equipped with scientific knowledge so that they can make informed decisions based on sound science.”

This forum was held last November 25 at Seda Hotel, Quezon City as part of the 15th National Biotechnology Week (NBW). This year, the Department of Health leads the NBW celebration with the theme: “Biotek: Makabagong Solusyon sa Kalusugan” from November 25 to 29, at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Quezon City.

 

(SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center)