Filipino Scientists, Government Officials Criticize Bt Eggplant Field Trial Pre-termination
Scientists and experts in the country expressed indignation over the unanticipated pre-termination of the fruit and shoot borer (FSB) resistant Bt ‘talong' (eggplant) trial in the University of the Philippines Mindanao (UP Mindanao) last December 17, 2010.
Dr. Candida Adalla, chief of the Biotechnology Program Office (BPO) of the Department of Agriculture said that the uprooting "is an assault to scientific inquiry and independence of responsible scientists in quest for truth. This is the first time it happened to the university, touted as the bastion of scientific research and technological innovations." She also said that the experiment was "legitimate, consistent and compliant with the government-set guidelines noted as one of the strictest in the world and (used) as reference by nearby Asian countries."
In a statement released after the uprooting, UP Mindanao clarified all the allegations hurled at the Bt talong project. Among the points explained was how the field trial was confined, and that the university is complying with all conditions imposed by the regulatory agencies. Prof. Nilo Oponda, UP Mindanao chancellor officer-in-charge, wrote in his letter to the media "UP Mindanao has not violated any requirements that would impact on biosafety and public health," and added that the university has complied with all the conditions set by the regulatory agencies.
In their statement, the university also cleared details of institutions involved the project. It was stated that the project's rationale was "the need to address a common problem among eggplant farmers in the Philippines," which is the high infestations of the FSB pest.
The full statement of UP Mindanao after the uprooting may be found in http://mindanews.com/main/2010/12/25/up-mindanaos-statement-on-the-bt-eggplant-project/. For a related article, visit http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=643616&publicationSubCategoryId=75. For updates on Philippine biotechnology, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.bic.searca.org.
This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)