Science Speaks - Blog by ISAAA

Unlocking the Potential of Pinoy Biotek: Scientists and Policymakers Tackle Regulatory Pathways to Bring Products to Market

By Lucille Grace Punzalan
June 13, 2024


The Philippines has many biotech products in the pipeline. However, collaboration between different stakeholders is necessary to bring these biotech products to the market. Policymakers play a huge role in speeding up the process of commercialization and adoption of biotechnology in the country.

ISAAA Inc., in collaboration with the Philippine Agriculture and Fisheries Biotechnology Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA Biotech) and the Committee of Food Security of the Philippine House of Representatives, held a virtual policy forum titled Regulatory Path to Commercialization of Biotech Products on May 9, 2024, via Zoom. The activity was designed to provide a venue to inform policymakers in the Philippines on how biotech products are developed for commercialization in an adopting country and the Philippines. 

Dr. Rhodora Romero-Aldemita, Executive Director of ISAAA Inc., started the event by highlighting the importance of consistent and thorough information dissemination for the agricultural biotechnology needs of the country. Dr. Aldemita also mentioned that the policy forum aims to inform policymakers on how biotech products are developed and commercialized, as well as their potential and benefits. 

Representative Lani Mercado-Revilla of the 2nd District of Cavite gave a welcome message highlighting the interest of all members of the Committee of Food Security who were ready to engage in the discussion and learn from experts. They were prepared to explore regulatory practices, strategies, and utilization of biotechnology for product development, as well as ensure that the biotech products are fit for commercialization.


Dr. Edgardo Tulin, Professor at the Visayas State University (VSU), discussed the development of BioMeg, a microbial inoculant for crops. He highlighted how BioMeg can contribute to food security, address climate change, and help with environmental protection. Dr. Tulin also shared the stages that their project encountered, such as mass production, field trials in other agro-climatic conditions, farmers’ adoption of the technology, and regulatory requirements.

Bt Cotton

Dr. Leny Galvez, Career Scientist I at the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), explained that Bt cotton is an insect-resistant crop that can combat cotton bollworm. With reduced bollworm infestation, the yield and income of cotton farmers will be increased.

Bt cotton underwent long and thorough assessments by the mandated Philippine regulatory agencies to ensure its safety and quality but the process is time-consuming and costly for PhilFIDA. Dr. Galvez also shared the requirements, references, and technical dossiers they submitted including the risk assessment report and public information sheet.

Gene-Edited Products in the US Market

Dr. Gabriel Romero, Executive Director of the Philippine Seed Industry Association, presented on behalf of Dr. Dan Jenkins, Vice-President of Regulatory and Government Affairs of Pairwise. He discussed the opportunities and challenges of bringing gene-edited products to the US market. According to him, the gene-edited product of Pairwise was only reviewed in the USA for 60 days. It was approved quickly because it does not need to undergo the review process of genetically modified (GM) products due to the absence of a foreign gene. 

Dr. Romero also discussed the results of Pairwise’s research which showed that the younger generations (Gen Zs and millennials) are more accepting of gene editing than older adults (Gen Xs and baby boomers). He also shared the experience of Pairwise in increasing the awareness and acceptance of Americans toward gene-edited products. The organization used different platforms to provide information, such as wall signages and table tents with QR codes linked to their website. Brand ambassadors also educated the guests about the benefits of gene-edited products.

Q&A on Pinoy Biotek Products

Mr. Panfilo de Guzman, Senior Associate Scientist at ISAAA Inc., moderated the Q&A session. During the discussions, Dr. Tulin shared that BioMeg was tested on the island of Leyte and they hope to try the inoculant in areas with lahar depositions. Their team has studied the inoculant’s effects on sweet potato and purple yam because sweet potato can help with food security. Purple yam is a high-valued crop utilized for pastries and desserts. Students of Visayas State University are also conducting studies on the effects of BioMeg on vegetables and cash crops. Their team is also open to testing the inoculant for legumes and grain crops.

Dr. Tulin’s team conducted soil analysis on areas where they used BioMeg and confirmed that the inoculant boosted copper, iron, and zinc content in the soil. Tissue analysis of the products was also done to prove the nutritional value of sweet potato and purple yam. Dr. Tulin also highlighted that when farmers see how BioMeg can increase their yield and income, it will be easy to convince them to adopt the product.

On the other hand, Dr. Galvez mentioned that Bt cotton is already approved for commercialization and they offer seed support to farmers interested in planting. Dr. Romero mentioned that farmers appreciate the advantages of using GM corn, such as higher income and reduced use of pesticides. However, there should be reinforcement in communicating about biotech with the general public from schools, health professionals, and influencers to ensure trust in biotech products.

Dr. Paul Limson, Director of DA Biotech, gave the closing remarks. “Bringing biotech products to the market involves navigating regulatory procedures to ensure safety, effectiveness, and compliance with pertinent laws and regulations before their commercialization. It is a complex process that requires thorough testing, documentation, and evaluation,” Dr. Limson said. He also emphasized the importance of collaboration between regulatory authorities, industry players, and researchers to foster innovation and guarantee the responsible introduction of biotech products. 

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