Philippine S&T and Environment Advocate Legislator Asserts Safety of Bt Eggplant Research
Known S&T and environment advocate Congressman Angelo Palmones defended the need to conduct the multi-location field trials of the fruit and shoot borer resistant Bt eggplant after he witnessed the harvesting operations in the trial site at the University of Southern Mindanao (USM), Kabacan, North Cotabato last June 29, 2012. Palmones said that Bt eggplant would not only promote balance in the environment, but would also serve as a national agricultural advantage through quality and lesser chemical-laden crops produced by healthy farmers. He pointed out that once Bt eggplant is commercialized, the product can be exported to countries with strict plant quarantine regulations, especially on the presence of chemical residues.
Chair of the Committee on Agriculture of North Cotabato and board member Vicente Sorupia, Jr. noted the evident difference of Bt eggplant fruits from non-Bt eggplants, both with and without pesticides. Bt eggplants were clean and clear of damages from borers, while conventional eggplants were pierced with borer holes. He thanked the scientists for reaching out and explaining the science of Bt eggplant to the LGU and local agriculturists, and recognized the need for a continuing education on biotech. He also encouraged the municipal agriculturists to be a tool in informing farmers of what Bt eggplant is and its benefits.
Members of the North Cotabato local government and its municipal agriculturists and technicians also observed the presence of soil insects, earthworms and other insects in the vicinity of the 2,500 square meter field trial site. The congressman noted that natural soil organisms are still living in the Bt eggplant field, hence a positive sign that Bt eggplant roots is not harmful to organisms underground.
On the Writ of Environment filed by an anti-GMO group against the Bt eggplant multi-location field trials, Palmones said that he is opposed to the petition because the Bt eggplant project is a legitimate research. "It does not bring any harm to people. If we stop this kind of research, we will never move or develop as a country in using modern technologies - and if that would be our mindset, we would be left behind, especially our farmers," he said.
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)