Biotech Updates

Future Science Leaders Take Part in the 2nd Animal Biotechnology Stakeholder Consultation in PH

July 12, 2023

Participants, resource persons, and organizers of the Animal Biotechnology Symposium and Stakeholder Consultation held in the Philippine Carabao Center on July 4, 2023. (Photo by Clement Dionglay, ISAAA Inc.)

ISAAA Inc. continues to aid in informing the Filipino public about the drafted Joint Department Circular (JDC) on the Rules and Regulations for the Research and Development, Handling and Use, Transboundary Movement, Release into the Environment, and Management of Genetically Modified Animal and Animal Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology in the Philippines through the recently concluded animal biotechnology symposium and stakeholder consultation held in the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), Science City of Muñoz, Philippines on July 4, 2023.

The event was the second of a three-part stakeholder consultation series that ISAAA Inc. and the Department of Agriculture are conducting to solicit comments and suggestions from target stakeholders for the improvement and effective implementation of the JDC. Participants from the animal science research facilities in Muñoz and adjacent towns as well as students from state universities and colleges in the northern and central Luzon areas, were invited to attend by the Department of Agriculture-Livestock Biotechnology Center (DA-LBC). Interested parties who were unable to attend on-site joined via Zoom. The symposium, which was co-organized by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), garnered a total of 220 participants.

Present at the event were ISAAA Inc. Executive Director Dr. Rhodora Romero-Aldemita, PCC OIC Executive Director Dr. Caro B. Salces, and Atty. Eric Reynoso, Program Head of SEARCA's Emerging Innovation and Growth Department, who gave their respective welcome remarks. Dr. Maribel Zaporteza of the University of the Philippines Los Baños was featured to discuss the scientific concept and latest advancements in modern animal biotechnology, while Ms. Ma. Lorelei U. Agbagala of the Department of Science and Technology-National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines' Secretariat explained the details of the JDC to the audience. The presentations were followed by an open discussion wherein members of the audience directed their questions and concerns to a panel of experts which included the resource speakers and the heads of the institutions who organized the event, as well as Dr. Claro Mingala, Director of the Philippine Agriculture and Fisheries Biotechnology Program and Head of the JDC Drafting Committee, and Dr. Abraham J. Manalo, Executive Secretary of the Biotech Coalition of the Philippines and Assistant Professor at the UP National College of Public Affairs and Governance.

When the panel was asked about what they wanted to impart to the audience, the majority of which were students and young researchers, they all agreed that animal biotechnology is an important tool to address challenges in Philippine agriculture, particularly in the livestock sector and that the youth should take advantage of using it. “Be encouraged to use the technology. Be open to positive possibilities, but do not forget to use it responsibly,” reminded Dr. Salces. Dr. Mingala related responsible scientific research to modern biotechnology by saying, “If we rely on science, there is nothing to worry about. GM products are safe, good for the environment, and do not bring harm to animals.” Ms. Agbalaga also highlighted the progress made in improving the country's national biosafety framework. “The Philippines is proud of our biosafety guidelines. Regulation is not a barrier to innovation. It is here to support innovation,” she said.

The program was closed by Dr. Marvin A. Villanueva, Chief of the DA-LBC, and hosted by Ms. Erica Lapus and Mr. Florencio Cancho Jr. of DA-LBC. The last stakeholder consultation will be conducted in August 2023 and will target animal industry representatives across the country.

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