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Crop Biotech Update

Environmental Lawyer Tackles Critical Legal Issues in Devt of Biotech Crops

August 13, 2014

Important issues in the current debate on biotech crops were discussed in the SEARCA Agriculture and Development Seminar Series (ADSS) "Critical Legal Issues Surrounding Biotechnology and Biosafety" by Atty. Gregory Jaffe, Director of the Biotechnology Project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in Washington DC, USA, on 25 July 2014.

Genetic engineering, he said, "allows scientists to move beneficial traits from one organism to another in a precise way." He also said that the safety and benefits of the technology is well-documented, and that in terms of food safety, conclusions from renowned international organizations show that food products of biotech are generally safe.

Atty. Jaffe cited the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, stating that the said international agreement is a good starting point in establishing a national biosafety regulatory system because "it has a precautionary approach but its goal is to effectuate trade among countries of safe LMOs (living modified organisms)." He said that the "hot topics" critical in the development of biotech crops are: liability and redress; socio-economic considerations; labeling; and development of resistant weeds.

Atty. Jaffe also emphasized the importance of assessing products or technologies on a case-by-case basis and highlighted the critical role of functional biosafety regulatory systems in allowing safe products to be marketed.

The seminar was co-organized by SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center, the Program for Biosafety Systems and the National Institute of Molecular Biology and,Biotechnology-UPLB. For more information about developments in biotechnology in the Philippines or in Southeast Asia, visit SEARCA BIC's website at http://www.bic.searca.org/ or send an e-mail to bic@agri.searca.org.