Department of Agriculture Pushes Accurate Info on Biotech Crops

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is preparing its regional offices to disseminate accurate information on biotech crops, so that negative perceptions against their promotion could be addressed.

Agriculture workers from the regional field offices (RFO) of the DA in Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon participated in a two-day workshop on biotech crops in San Fernando, Pampanga and Ilagan City, Isabela, respectively. The participants were briefed about the DA Biotech Program, biotech principles and applications, regulatory system, and locally developed biotechnology products such as Bt Talong (Bacillus thuringiensis) and Golden Rice.

Bt Eggplant (Image Credit: SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center)
Bt Eggplant (Image Credit: SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center)

Crispulo Bautista Jr., officer in charge and regional executive director of DA-Central Luzon, said it was imperative for agriculture workers to have accurate and useful information on biotechnology to ensure that the public receives factual and truthful information about biotechnology.

“I requested this biotech briefing for Region 3 from [former] director Mamaril so that our staff can learn about these technologies. Rest assured that the DA-RFO 3 (Central Luzon) will cascade the right information about biotechnology,” he said.

Golden Rice (Image credit: Philippine Rice Research Institute)
Golden Rice (Image credit: Philippine Rice Research Institute)

Safety, efficiency, effectiveness, market price and regulations of genetically modified organism crops and other biotech-related products were discussed.

Biotech products have to undergo rigorous and evidence-based assessments provided by the current regulatory system to be considered safe and effective, the resource speakers, including Segfredo Serrano, emphasized.

Serrano, the retired DA undersecretary for policy, planning, project development and research, also urged participants to engage and empower farmers to make evidence-based decisions on the use of biotech products in improving their livelihood.

“[Our regulatory system ensures] that only biotechnology initiatives that can benefit our people, demonstrate environmental integrity and respect farming practices will be approved. Our farmers [need] to have appreciation of science, so that they won’t have a culture of fear,” he said.

The DA-Biotechnology Program Office (DA-BPO), the Philippine Rice Research Institute and the International Rice Research Institute led the initiative.

DA-BPO plans to continue coordinating with the other regional offices of the Agriculture department to conduct more biotech seminars and training to bridge the information gap among agriculture workers.

 

Written by Conrad M. Cariño in The Manila Times. Read original article here.

Policy Brief Volume 1, No. 5: Personal Constructs and Social Discourses on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Policy Brief Volume 1, No. 5: Personal Constructs and Social Discourses on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

SUMMARY:

Message or narrative frames (or key messages or story lines grouped together in support of a particular message) in biotechnology more often than not pertain to agriculture and food production, or medicine. Both messages and narrative frames (that of agricultural production and medicine) suggests the linearity in a way biotechnology is currently viewed by the public. Such narratives may contain metaphors and frames that play an important role in the communication of science, and have direct impact on public opinion, and eventually, government policy. Such entrenched metaphors and frames can likewise contribute to the misunderstanding of the science itself.

Thpb5e fifth Policy Brief, which is based on a recent study conducted by Dr. Maria Monina Cecilia A. Villena (Program Head of SEARCA’s Knowledge Management Department), explores how the public makes sense of message frames used by the government when disseminating information about genetic modification or biotechnology. It also explores the public’s (specifically, farmer leaders and traders) personal constructs about the science, and how these aid them when participating in societal discourse about GM crops.

Substantially, results of the study suggest that although biotechnology adoption is seen as a major element in the promotion of Philippine agricultural development, the communication gap may be well placed in the numerous communication channels and networks involved in the numerous advocacy efforts. Hence, future science communication efforts need to be based on a systematic and empirical understanding of the audience’s values, knowledge, and attitudes in relation to the respective interpersonal and social contexts.    

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Filipino farmers trained on biotech and science communication

Filipino farmers trained on biotech and science communication

Farmer-leaders and members of the Asian Farmers Regional Network Philippines (ASFARNET) from all over the country learned about the products, science, safety, and potential benefits of biotechnology as well as strategies and skills for biotech communication during the Trainer’s Training-Workshop Series 2017: Agri-biotechnology Capacity Building for ASFARNET-Philippines on September 21-22, 2017 at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

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