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Crop Biotech Update

Experts: Biotech Can Contribute to Food Security, Can Coexist with Organic Farming

October 15, 2010

Biotechnology has contributed to, and can continue to provide food security and income in the future. This was conveyed by scientists and experts in the seminar Securing Food and Increasing Income through Biotechnology held September 29, 2010 by the Department of Agriculture (DA). Citing the loss of biodiversity and soil, Dr. Emil Q. Javier, president of the National Academy of Science and Technology, emphasized the need for food affordability and environmental sustainability. He proposed the "intensification" of agriculture in the available crop lands, through modern biotechnology.

Dr. Randy Hautea, Southeast Asia Center Director of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) corroborated this by reporting that all projections show the need to produce more on the same piece of land. "We are not playing God," said Dr. Javier on genetic modification. "We are just learning what God installed there, and use it for the development of man."

The seminar also highlighted that organic and biotech farming can coexist. It was reported that the top countries adopting organic farming are also the top cultivators of biotech crops. While organic agriculture has its advantages, Dr. Saturnina Halos, Chair of DA Biotechnology Technical Advisory Team, explained that organic farming is "philosophy-based"; farmers formulate the practices in their areas, hence, some are not applicable to different places. Dr. Halos also said organic farming is expensive and that livestock production is totally dependent on genetically modified crops. 

Meanwhile, scientists from different specializations presented the contributions of biotechnology. Dr. Antonio Alfonso of the Philippine Rice Research Institute explained that biotechnology has improved today's crops. Dr. Mudjekeewis Santos of the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute said that studying marine life, such as stock selection of shrimps, was made easier by biotechnology methods. Dr. Annabelle Sarabia of the Philippine Carabao Center reported the advancements in reproduction of carabaos through in vitro fertilization and other biotechnology techniques. The seminar was a build up activity for the celebration of the 6th National Biotechnology Week in November this year.

For more updates on agri-biotechnology in the Philippines, visit http://www.bic.searca.org or email bic@agri.searca.org