Crop Biotech Update

Phil Regulators and Educators Get Updates on Biotech and Biosafety Assessment

August 27, 2010

Thirty three participants composed of regulators from the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional agricultural offices and representatives from the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) recently gathered in a Biotechnology 101 Training Course on the Basic Biotechnology Tools for Crop/Animal Improvement which was held last August 16-19, 2010 at the Philippine Rice Research Institute in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, Philippines.

The course provided understanding on the basics of agricultural biotechnology, and the principles involved in improving crops and livestock through conventional and modern biotechnology. Tools such as tissue culture, molecular marker technology, cloning and genetic engineering were also learned through lectures and laboratory demonstrations. In addition, the participants were informed on the policies that govern safety assessment and risk management in the country. The Philippine biotechnology regulation is considered to be a model system in Southeast Asia for being the only country to successfully assess and commercialize modern biotech products.

 Biotechnology products are not offshoots of a person's imagination but rather innovations that underwent detailed scientific studies and rigorous and robust safety assessment. This was made clear by Dr. Candida Adalla, Director of the DA-BPO, in her opening remarks in the training workshop. She believes that biotechnology is the technology of the future, and pointed out that the technology could and has tremendous benefits, particularly for the Filipino people. Dr. Adalla also emphasized the critical role of regulators not only in assessing safety of biotech products but also be able to speak about biotechnology as informed persons.

Likewise, Attorney Ronilo Beronio, Executive Director of PhilRice, also shared the importance of biotechnology as a tool in addressing challenges in food security and health concerns. He informed on the current research efforts of PhilRice in the development of the Golden Rice, a GM rice that produces beta carotene, which becomes vitamin A in the body. The Golden Rice is a promising rice variety which aims to contribute to the global problem in Vitamin A deficiency. PhilRice is one of the centers of excellence in the Philippines in terms of biotech research and development. The training course was organized by the Department of Agriculture Biotechnology Program Office (DABPO), the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) Biotechnology Information Network in collaboration with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice). It was part of the build up activity in the celebration of the 6th National Biotechnology Week which is scheduled to be conducted on November 21-28, 2010.

For biotech updates in the Philippines, visit http://www.bic.searca.org or email bic@agri.searca.org.