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.

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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.

Socio-economic Aspect of GM Crops Highlighted in Symposium

Socio-economic Aspect of GM Crops Highlighted in Symposium

Science and economics merged during The Economics of Biotech Crops: A Symposium to Promote Economic and Financial Literacy held on July 17, 2018 at the SEARCA Umali Auditorium, Los Baños, Laguna.

The half-day event was a joint collaboration of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture through its Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA BIC) in partnership with the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and the Philippine Economic Society (PES) toward the implementation of Republic Act No. 10922 (Economic and Financial Literacy Act of 2016) and in observance of Nutrition Month this July.

More than 60 participants composed of scientists and experts as well as representatives from the academe, national and international agencies/institutions, partners from the biotech and business sectors, and media practitioners were informed on topics centered on the socio-economic aspect of GM crops including the global status of biotech crops, IRRI’s research on biotec rice, the socio-economics of Bt Eggplant, and the social and economic impact of biofortificated through genetic modification.

Dr. Maja-Leah Ravago, PES President, underlined the significance of looking at the economic and financial prospects of biotech crops because ultimately, maximizing the profits of the farmers is most important. She also expressed PES’ support in ensuring that accurate information from the experts is communicated to the public. Meanwhile, Dr. Desiree Hautea, Project Leader of the Bt Eggplant Project, agreed and commented during the open forum that one of the things that will always make bottomline to anyone is economics. She added that this poses a challenge to the economics partners on how they can impact the communications discourse with science-based information.

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.

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

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.

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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.

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Legislators bat for the advancement of agri-biotech in PH

Legislators bat for the advancement of agri-biotech in PH

Filipino lawmakers on Monday called for the continued advancement of biotechnology in the country during the opening of the Biotechnology Exhibit in the House of Representatives themed Bioteknolohiya: Pambansang Hamon, Pambansang Solusyon (Biotechnology: Our Nation’s Challenge, Our Nation’s Solution). The exhibit was organized by the Department of Agriculture’s Biotechnology Program Office from May 21-24, 2018 at the North Wing Lobby of the House of Representatives. It is one of the many lined up activities in celebration of the National Biotechnology Week in November 2018.  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.

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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.

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Who’s afraid of genetically modified chickens?

DEALING with controversies can be stressful and migraine inducing. Still, I welcome heated discussions over certain topics if only because it will give light and popularize what was once obscure but nonetheless important issues. Take for instance the recent decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke the incorporation papers of online media site Rappler. Overnight, my social-media feeds are filled by posts of corporate law experts talking about Philippine Depositary Receipts and media ownership. Each posts will generate responses—and not just from lawyers or law students—either criticizing, defending or clarifying the SEC’s decision. Read more

Philippines: Agricultural Biotechnology Annual

The Philippines continues to be a regional biotechnology leader. Bt eggplant remains poised as the first locally-developed, genetically-engineered (GE) crop to be commercialized while field trials of Golden Rice (GR) are expected in the near-term future, the exact timeline of which is unknown. Although there have been delays in the processing of biosafety applications under the regulatory process known as Joint Departmental Circular (JDC) there have been no reported trade disruptions. Improvements in the implementation of the JDC regulations are expected starting late 2017 with the issuance of harmonized inter-agency procedures.

Philippines: Agricultural Biotechnology Annual Read more