Farmer-leaders from Mindanao have signified their support for the application of modern biotechnology tools in agriculture, even as they keenly await the commercial release of “Pinoy biotech crops.”
Even as the debate over the safety of genetic modification rages on, farmers worldwide are voting with their pockets as they continue to plant more biotech crops. For 2017, global hectarage of biotech (bt) crops increased 4.7 million hectares over the previous year i.e. from 185.1 million hectares to 189.8 million hectares, an increase of three percent.
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.
Wheat researchers have discovered a combination of genes that provide resistance to the significant fungal disease Stagonospora nodorum blotch (SNB) in WA varieties.
Farm technology in India has traditionally followed a top-down approach despite farmers being the most important cog in the wheel.
Biotech Crop Adoption Surges as Economic Benefits
Accumulate in 22 Years
Biotech crops in the last 22 years of commercialization have brought immense economic benefits, health improvement and social gains which should be shared with the global community. Accurate information on the benefits and potentials of biotech crops will allow farmers and consumers to make informed-choice in what crops to grow and consume, respectively; policy makers and regulators to craft enabling biosafety guidelines for commercialization and adoption of biotech crops; and science communicators and the media to facilitate dissemination of the benefits and potentials of the technology. Read more
Biotech Crop Adoption Leads to Greater Sustainability and Socioeconomic Opportunities for Global Farmers and Citizens
Two new studies show continued environmental and social benefits of biotech crop use and adoption
(June 26, 2018) – Today, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) and PG Economics, Ltd. released new studies highlighting the continued social, environmental and economic benefits of the global adoption of biotechnology in agriculture. Read more
Higher cotton yields would help Kenya access more of the US market.
Intellectual property rights in relation to plant varieties, including transgenic varieties, are the subject matter of protection under the provisions of the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Act
Monsanto Philippines asked the government to address the proliferation of illegal Bt corn seeds and prevent damage to farmers and industry.
Genetic engineering is a powerful tool for developing future crops but before it is used for food, questions on its safety should be addressed and settled at the earliest, a high-powered official panel has recommended.
Women scientists are calling for the adoption of biotechnology to boost food security in the country.
Under the umbrella of Women for Biosciences Network, Dr Felister Makini, the deputy director general for crop research at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) said that women scientists can play a bigger role in helping female farmers in rural areas understand the technologies and exploit them for food security.
The USDA is proposing three symbols that could indicate a product containing genetically modified ingredients, including this smiling sun. Food companies could also opt for a scannable QR code or a simple line of text.
Though it’s not yet clear which highly processed ingredients will be labeled as genetically modified foods, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released possible designs for those labels.
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.
The advent of genetically modified crops caused a scandal in the 1990s.
But the younger generation is largely relaxed about eating GM foods, new research has shown, as farmers called for a post-Brexit technology revolution.
When European researchers recently announced a new technique that could potentially replace chemical pesticides with a natural “vaccine” for crops, it sounded too good to be true. Too good partly because agriculture is complicated, and novel technologies that sound brilliant in the laboratory often fail to deliver in the field. And too good because agriculture’s “Green Revolution” faith in fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, and other agribusiness inputs has proved largely unshakable up to now, regardless of the effects on public health or the environment.
Other officials also sought to allay fears that the country may never have a biosafety law.
“The president’s issues with the biosafety bill have been addressed. So the bill will pass,” reiterated Christopher Kibazanga, state Minister for Agriculture.
His and other supportive voices were heard at the 3rd Biennial National Agricultural Biosciences Conference (NABIO) 2018, where Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, speaking at the official opening, assured guests that the Science and Technology Committee’s report on the bill would be tabled for debate before Parliament breaks off for the Easter holiday.
The announcement prompted jubilation from an evidently excited audience. Uganda’s pro-biotech community is now in a “fingers-crossed” mood as it eagerly awaits results from yesterday’s tabling of the report.
The two-day NABIO conference — organized by the Science Foundation for Livelihoods and Development (SCIFODE), in cooperation with local and global partners in biotech and biosafety — attracted national and international scientists, policy makers, journalists, politicians, farmers and university students.
The biennial event provides a platform for dialogue among bioscience stakeholders to chart out the most strategic way to harness bioscience for national and regional economic transformation.
Almost naturally, Uganda’s biosafety law took center stage as different scientists shared updates on bioscience research and regulatory progress in different countries. The local audience, particularly farmers, expressed frustration about the protracted process of passing Uganda’s law.
“Last season alone, I lost seven acres to cassava brown streak disease (CBSD),” lamented Sarah Nabirye Kiirya, a farmer from Kinyomozi village in the Kiryandongo district in Western Uganda. “Please fast track the enactment of the biosafety law so farmers like me can access virus resistant GM cassava.”
Losses due to CBSD are estimated at $24.2 million annually.She and many other farmers also are recovering from a long drought and a fall armyworm (FAW) invasion that devastated crops countrywide in 2017.
In a bid to restore farmers’ yields, scientists at the National Agricultural Research Organization have since 2007 used genetic engineering to address viral diseases in cassava, bacterial wilt in bananas, drought and pest challenges in maize, nitrogen and water use efficiency in rice, and late blight disease in potatoes.
While Uganda has the highest number of genetically modified (GM) crops under field testing in Africa, efforts to get such products of modern agricultural technology into farmers’ fields have so far been stifled by the absence of an enabling national policy.
“It is very pernicious when everyone, especially non-scientists, claim scientific authority,” argued Amos Mandela, a Ugandan parliamentarian. He was addressing widespread misinformation circulated by anti-GMO and environmental groups, which has at least in part been responsible for the delayed passing of the biosafety law.
As the conference concluded, one overreaching sentiment remained: Is this it? Could this be the time when farmers like Sarah are finally given the opportunity to choose better performing GM crops? As it stands, they can only remain optimistic.
Written by Joshua Raymond Muhumuza in Cornell Alliance for Science. He is a research assistant with Uganda Biosciences Information Center. See original article link here.