Biotech Updates

BPI Assures Biosafety Compliance but FSBR/Bt Eggplant UPMin Trial Pre-terminated

December 23, 2010

The ongoing multi-location trial at the University of the Philippines Mindanao (UPMin) was prematurely terminated after the Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte issued a cease and desist order. The mayor's order was based on inaccurate information provided by City Agriculturist Leonardo R. Avila III which contradicts the official certification issued by the national regulatory body, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).

Based on the official letter forwarded by the BPI to the City Agriculturist, the UPMin has substantially been complying with all the technical and regulatory conditions listed in its biosafety permit for the field trial. The BPI emphasized that the confined field trial is just a component of a series of studies to ensure that the plant and its products are as safe as conventional counterparts and that they do not pose any significant risks to humans, animals and the environment.

The FSBR/Bt eggplant project implementers carefully followed the guidelines set by the BPI regarding the parameters of a confined trial, which include among others, a 200 meter isolation distance from the experimental site. The trial was conducted under the strict supervision of the BPI pursuant to the provisions of DA AO No. 8. Similarly, the project also complied with the requirements for supervised transport, planting, replanting, regulated access to experimental area, and prevention of unauthorized release of the regulated plant. The project and its collaborators have also been active in biotech and project outreach, and public information and dissemination.

Although the UPMin also requested for additional time to explain and provide additional information, the local government order was still carried out, destroying the entire experiment which is officially permitted by the national government.

For details on the article and for biotechnology updates in the Philippines, contact Jenny Panopio of SEARCA-BIC at