Biotech Updates

Report Finds COVID-19 Pandemic Slowed Biotech Crop and Animal Approvals in the Philippines

June 16, 2021

The Agricultural Biotechnology Annual released by the US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service reports that the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have delayed key milestones in the Philippines that were expected in 2020.

The Philippines is a regional biotechnology leader, having been the first Asian country to allow the commercial planting of genetically engineered (GE) Bt corn in 2003. The country is now moving forward on a regulatory framework for GE animals and products of innovative biotechnologies. The Philippines has again shown its regional leadership when it became the first in Asia to cosponsor the International Statement on Agricultural Applications of Precision Biotechnology at the World Trade Organization on May 28, 2020. A change in GE plant regulations as embodied in Department of Agriculture (DA) Administrative Order No. 8 (DA-AO 8) to the Joint Department Circular (JDC) on April 15, 2016, however, has slowed the processing of biosafety applications.

No major trade disruptions and regulatory reforms are underway with a review of the current regulatory regime. Parallel to this are current efforts to have regulatory frameworks covering GE animals, as well as policy to govern products of new innovative biotechnologies such as gene editing. Both faced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are now expected in the current year.

In 2019, the Philippines was the 12th largest producer of biotech crops, planting almost a million hectares of biotech corn.

For more details, download the Agricultural Biotechnology Annual.

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