Special Screening of Documentary on GMOs Held for Legislators in the Philippines

More than 60 people composed largely of legislators, legislative staff, and students “feasted on facts” as the film’s tagline puts it, during the special screening of the documentary, Food Evolution, held on May 23 at the Philippine House of Representatives. The film was shown as part of the Biotechnology Exhibit themed Bioteknolohiya: Pambansang Hamon, Pambansang Solusyon (Biotechnology: Our Nation’s Challenge, Our Nation’s Solution) organized by the Department of Agriculture’s Biotechnology Program Office from May 21-24, 2018.

The film looked into the controversy surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and food, and showed how misinformation, confusion, and fear can muddle with science and influence public perception. Enlisting experts as well as farmers and scientists worldwide, the film aimed to separate myths from facts and open avenues for discussion to help audiences reach their own conclusions on the issue.

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Dr. Rhodora R. Aldemita, Director of ISAAA Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, addressed questions from the audience during the open forum. The film got the attention of several legislators, including Rep. Manuel Sagarbarria who suggested screening it to a wider audience, especially in the provinces. Meanwhile, Rep. Evelina Escudero inquired if there are existing studies on the long-term effects of GM crops on humans to which Dr. Aldemita responded that GM food undergoes a series of rigorous studies and food safety assessments before it is released for public consumption. She further emphasized that scientists continuously study this area and are on the lookout for new developments.

It also garnered positive feedback from audience members with majority recommending that a similar screening be held to disseminate valid information regarding biotechnology and GM in particular. Most of them found the film appealing as it presented both sides of the debate and laymanized the highly technical terms. Others even wanted to see a similar documentary based on Asian and Philippine setting as well as discussions on the concept of co-existence between organic farming and biotechnology.