Around 160 participants composed of farmers, members and officials of selected municipalities in Camarines Sur, and representatives from the academe and non-government organizations were informed on the science of biotechnology, food and environmental safety of genetically modified (GM) crops, biotech products in the pipeline, and the existing biosafety regulatory guidelines in the Philippines during the Biotechnology 101 and Joint Department Circular (JDC) Public Briefing held at Villa Caceres Hotel in Naga City, Camarines Sur on September 26, 2018.
Scientists from the University of the Philippines Los Baños – Institute of Plant Breeding (UPLB-IPB) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) as well as representatives from the departments involved in the implementation of the JDC (Agriculture, Science and Technology, Interior and Local Government, and Environment and Natural Resources) were present to discuss the topics and address questions from the participants.
During the open forum, the farmers expressed interest and anticipation on the availability of biotech crops, particularly Bt Eggplant. Several farmers asked if they can be trained as seed growers. Members of the Bt eggplant project team assured the farmers that Bt eggplant seeds will be available to them at a nominal price once the crop is commercialized and that trainings on the cultural management of the crop will be in place. The participants were also concerned about the status of Golden Rice, the compatibility of Bt crops with organic farming, and the potential impacts of Bt crops on their income and yield.
The activity, which is the first in a series of public briefings scheduled this year, was organized by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Department of Agriculture (DA)-Biotechnology Program Office, and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture – Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA BIC) in coordination with the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA). – Danellie Joy O. Medina, SEARCA-BIC