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Crop Biotech Update

Filipino Farmers Push for Continuation of Bt Eggplant Field Trials and Biotech Education

October 15, 2010

More than a hundred farmers and agriculture representatives from across the country (15 regions) unanimously endorsed the continuation of the multi-location field trials of the fruit and shoot borer resistant Bt eggplant in the Philippines. The farmers believe that the Bt eggplant, being resistant to a major pest of the crop (fruit and shoot borer), would be very beneficial to them as they have experienced with Bt corn. Bt corn has been adopted by more than 125,000 corn farmers in the Philippines since 2003.

Felicito Osorio, a farmer Board Member of PhilMaize and ASFARNET Philippines said that the multi-location trial of Bt eggplant must be pushed as most of the farmers, are already looking forward to the Bt eggplant seeds which is expected to raise their productivity, improve their livelihood and reduce their exposure to harmful chemical pesticides. This resolution was made during the "2nd National Agri-biotech Farmers Conference: Productivity and Sustainability through Agri-biotechnology", organized by the Asian Farmers Regional Network (ASFARNET) in October 4, 2010, at the Reina Mercedes Post Harvest Facility, Reina Mercedes, Isabela.

The support for the Bt eggplant field trials was just one in the set of resolutions that the farmers have agreed on for the improvement of the country's agricultural status. They also recognized and supported the coexistence of biotech crops, including genetically modified organisms, and organic farming. Reynaldo Cabanao, President of ASFARNET Philippines, emphasized that the decision to adopt the technology is with the farmers. "You can say I use organic fertilizer on the Bt eggplant I cultivate," he said. Edwin Paraluman, a farmer leader from General Santos City and Regional Coordinator of ASFARNET said that the organization's advocacy is "farmers' choice." 

Furthermore, the farmers pushed for the continuous information dissemination, education, and communication of biotechnology to farmers and the media, upon learning the advantages of future products of crop biotechnology. Antonio Berlan, a farmer in the area said that small farmers should be reached and be informed on the science, safety, issues and benefits of this technology. He added that farmers' voice should be heard as they are the user of the technology.

The conference was conducted back-to-back with the 7th Philippine National Corn Congress, which was held October 5-8.

For more details on the conference and the resolutions made, contact Ms. Jenny Panopio, SEARCA-BIC Network Administrator at jap@agri.searca.org.