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Crop Biotech Update

NAST President Points Out Bt Eggplant Will Benefit Both Farmers and Consumers

October 15, 2010

In a press conference held on September 27, 2010 in Ortigas City, Philippines, National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) President Dr. Emil Q. Javier pointed out that the promising Bt eggplant technology could benefit both farmers and consumers once deployed in the market. According to Dr. Javier, there are two sides to the benefits of Bt eggplant: one is the benefit to the producer, and the other is the benefit to the consumer. Farmers would have more marketable yield and lesser costs, while consumers would have lesser chances of harmful chemical residues in their eggplants, and, probably at cheaper prices due to the producers' higher marketable yield.

Bt eggplant is a biotech eggplant produced through genetic engineering to resist  the number one eggplant pest, eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB). This genetically modified crop, developed by a public research institution, the University of the Philippines Los Baños- Institute of Plant Breeding, is currently being assessed for safety and performance under the multi-location field trial prior to commercial release.

Dr. Javier also raised the issue on costs, and probable loss, from the delay of commercializing the fruit and shoot borer resistant Bt eggplant.  Dr. Cesar Quicoy of the College of Economics and Management, University of the Philippines Los Baños,  said that if the decisions on the commercialization of the Bt eggplant were based on economics, then it would have been approved. "From the economic point of view, it should be a go," he said. Based on the economic impact studies, cultivating Bt eggplant could raise farmers' income by about P50,000.00 per hectare as production cost is cut by 16% due to savings in pesticide and labor costs. Consumers would also enjoy cheaper and safer eggplants free from insecticide residues.

For more on the press conference, contact Ms. Jenny Panopio of SEARCA-BIC at jap@agri.searca.org.