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Crop Biotech Update

Bt Eggplant Undergoes Regulatory Assessment and Compliance, Expert Says

December 23, 2010

Philippine regulatory guidelines had been set for products of genetic engineering, and since the Bt technology is just one of its technologies, Bt ‘talong' (eggplant) needs to comply. This point was emphasized by experts and a regulator in back-to-back information activities in Baybay, Leyte, Philippines last December 6-7, 2010.

 "It [regulatory guidelines] is a set of rules that should be applied to all GM crops. Even though we know it [Bt talong] is safe, we still comply with the regulations," explained Dr. Emiliana Bernardo, Insect Resistance Management Advisory Team of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and member of the Institutional Biosafety Committee of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). To emphasize her point, she said "I will volunteer as a guinea pig for the Bt eggplant because I feel very sure. And yet I'm one of those enforcing regulation…It is better to be overcautious than to regret in the end." That is why we do not agree with a ‘no to all GM crops' position; our stand is to examine them on a case-by-case basis," she added.

In the "Seminar on Understanding the Science, Safety and Benefits of Bt Crops Technology", held on December 7, 2010 at Visayas State University (VSU), Baybay Leyte, VSU President Dr. Jose Bacusmo reminded in his opening message that it is wrong to reject something without testing or doing research. He hoped that decisions for the release of Bt talong would be based on gathered data from the trial sites. Dr. Bacusmo also expressed that he is open to Bt talong and believes in the potential benefits it would bring to farmers.

"Many farmers are already asking when the seeds of the Bt eggplant will come out. They know spraying is risky, but they have to save their crops because it is their livelihood. That is why if we could give crops that are safe to farmers, consumers, and the environment, I think that is the best. And that is my sincere hope for Bt eggplant," said Dr. Bernardo in the seminar. The seminar was organized and supported by VSU, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture - Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA BIC), ABSPII, DA-Biotechnology Program Office (DA-BPO), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

For more information about the seminar, send an e-mail to bic@agri.searca.org or visit SEARCA BIC website at http://www.bic.searca.org.