Biotech Updates

ISAAA Inc., SEARCA Launches Policy Briefs on Philippine Biosafety Regulations As Part of the National Biotechnology Week Celebration

November 23, 2022

Launching of two policy briefs on Philippine Biosafety Regulations on November 21, 2022 during the National Biotech Week Celebration. From L-R: Dir. Claro Mingala of the DA Biotech Program Office, author Ma. Lorelie U. Agbagala of the NCBP Secreatariat, Exec. Dir. Rhodora Romero-Aldemita of ISAAA Inc. and Mr. Jerome Cayton Barradas of SEARCA. (Photo by Danellie Joy O. Medina, SEARCA)

ISAAA Inc. and its long-time collaborator, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) launched two new policy briefs on Philippine biosafety by Ms. Ma. Lorelie U. Agbagala, Head Secretariat of the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines. The launch was held during the opening day of the 18th National Biotechnology Week of the Philippines on November 21, 2022, at the Philippine Trade Training Center, Pasay City.

The first policy brief was published in July 2022 and focused on the changes made to assessing and evaluating genetically modified (GM) plant and plant products to make the process faster and more efficient. On the other hand, the second policy brief was published in October 2022 and focused on the regulation of plant and plant products derived from plant breeding innovations and new breeding techniques and highlights how a product is classified to be GM or non-GM and if found to be non-GM will no longer need to undergo biosafety regulations intended for GMs.

Among those present during the event was Dr. Saturnina C. Halos, President of the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines (BCP), who gave the opening remarks. Respectable heads and consultants of the different Philippine regulatory agencies also joined the event. Ms. Julieta Fe Estacio, former Head Secretariat and now a consultant of the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines talked about the history of biotech regulations in the Philippines. Afterward, Ms. Agbagala presented the salient points of the DOST-DA-DENR-DOH-DILG Joint Department Circular No. 1 Series of 2021 on the Rules and Regulations for the Research and Development, Handling and Use, Transboundary Movement, Release into the Environment, and Management of Genetically Modified Plant and Plant Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology. The new JDC features a shortened approval process, the formation of a Joint Assessment Group (JAG) for every application, the consideration of data set generated on field trials conducted in other countries, an optional consideration of social, economic, ethical, and cultural factors, and that biosafety permits remain valid unless revoked.

Ms. Geronima P. Eusebio, Head of the Biotech Office of the Bureau of Plant Industry, also presented the salient points of the DA Memorandum Circular No. 8 Series of 2022 on the Rules and Procedure to Evaluate and Determine when Products of Plant Breeding Innovations (PBIs) are covered under the DOST-DA-DENR-DOH-DILG Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1, series of 2021 (JDC1, s2021) based on the NCBP Resolution No. 1, series of 2020. The new policy adopts a product-based approach in determining the presence of novel combinations of genetic materials to decide whether the product should be exempted from the existing GMO regulations. It then aims to clarify which plants developed using genome editing techniques fall under current biosafety/GMO regulations.

Two open fora were held and moderated by Dr. Abraham J. Manalo, BCP Executive Secretary, and Mr. Jerome Cayton Barradas, Project Coordinator II, AFNR Knowledge Platform, Research and Thought Leadership Department of SEARCA to encourage participation from the online audience and those who were at the venue. After the discussions, the two policy briefs were officially launched by Dr. Rhodora Romero-Aldemita, Executive Director of ISAAA Inc. Dr. Claro Mingala, Director of the DA Biotech Program Office, gave the closing remarks to conclude the event.

Download copies of the policy briefs for free to learn more.

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