Are Biotech crops safe to eat?

ARE biotech crops, which are spliced with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), safe to eat?

Opponents, mostly composed of private individuals, non-governmental organizations and international activists, say they are not. Proponents—who are mostly scientists (including Nobel Prize winners), health officials and United Nations agencies—claim they are! Read more

New biosafety guidelines introduced to stakeholders in Cebu, Philippines

New biosafety guidelines introduced to stakeholders in Cebu, Philippines

More than a hundred members of consumer groups, regulators, farmer leaders, faculty and students, information officers, and members and officials of local government units in Cebu province in the Philippines learned about the science, safety, and potential benefits of modern biotech, particularly biotech crops. The latest biosafety regulatory guideline in the country was also introduced during the Biotechnology 101 & Joint Department Circular (JDC) Public Briefing on April 4, 2017 at Big Hotel, Mandaue City, Cebu.

Julieta Fe Estacio, Head Secretariat of the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) – Biosafety Committee, and Ma. Lorelie Agbagala, Agricultural Center Chief II of the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Bureau of Plant Industry, explained the standards, procedures, and principles of the JDC and the major roles of the DOST and DA. Both emphasized the importance of regulation to ensure the safety of biotech products in research and in the market. Other topics presented were biotech research trends, biotech crops in the pipeline, and food and environmental safety issues.

Following the presentations was an open forum with representatives from the five concerned government Departments (DOST, DA, Department of Health, Department. of the Environment & Natural Resources, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government).

Ms. Alejandra Solijon, Chair of the Cebu Provincial Farmers Action Council, said in her message “We look forward to maximizing and optimizing farmer output through biotech. By merging research and technology with actual experiences in the field, we hope for a positive outcome for the Philippine agriculture.”

Mindanao farmers and local agri officials updated on latest biosafety guidelines

Mindanao farmers and local agri officials updated on latest biosafety guidelines
Representatives from the five government agencies serve as panelists for the JDC during the open forum.
Representatives from the five government agencies serve as panelists for the JDC during the open forum.

Filipino farmers, local government constituents, and students and faculty from General Santos City and surrounding municipalities in the southern island group of Mindanao in the Philippines took part in the third leg of the series of public briefings on the Joint Department Circular No. 1 (or “Rules and Regulations for the Research and Development, Handling and Use, Transboundary Movement, Release into the Environment, and Management of Genetically-Modified Plant and Plant Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology”) and symposia on agricultural modernization. The activity, held on 12 October 2016 in General Santos City, familiarized the stakeholders with the new guidelines which were approved by five government agencies namely the Departments of Agriculture, Science and Technology, Health, Environment and Natural Resources, and the Interior and Local Government. It also briefed them on the science, environmental and food safety, and potential socio-economic benefits of modern biotechnology in the Philippines, and introduced the concept of agricultural modernization. Speakers include Dr. Rhodora Aldemita of ISAAA, biotech corn farmer-leader Edwin Paraluman, and president of the Coalition for Agricultural Modernization in the Philippines (CAMP) Dr. Benigno Peczon. Representatives from the five government departments also served as panelists during the open forum where participants clarified their concerns towards the new guidelines.
The activity was organized by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture – Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA BIC), ISAAA, and CAMP, in collaboration with Mindanao State University. (Maria Monina Cecilia A. Villena and Sophia M. Mercado)