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Crop Biotech Update

Local Government of Cotabato, Philippines to Exercise Informed Decision on Bt Eggplant

January 14, 2011

Listening to "both sides of the coin" is the best action to be taken by North Cotabato (Philippines) provincial government when it comes to the field testing of the fruit and shoot borer (FSB) resistant Bt ‘talong' (eggplant), said the province's vice governor Emmanuel Pinol in a briefing with the provincial council last January 12, 2011.

The North Cotabato provincial government has invited proponents of Bt ‘talong' from the University of the Philippines Los Banos to hear the science behind and research results of Bt 'talong'. Similarly, the Philippine biotech regulation and experiences on biotech corn adoption were also imparted to the members of the local government units.

"The best way in discerning things is to get back to how these things came about through scientific method," said Pinol. "As a politician, I tend to listen to the emotions of the people. And yet as an engineer, I also have to listen to the scientific results. It is not a bad idea to see and hear both sides. The provincial council has to listen to all sides, and then decide on things that would be beneficial to the people of North Cotabato."

North Cotabato provincial agri-council chair Vicente Sorupia, citing the local government code, said in his opening message in a Bt crops seminar conducted the following day that it is the policy of the state to require the local government to hold consultations with all concerned sectors before implementing a project. Hence, the province plans to conduct consultative activities in the following weeks, hoping to hear the concerns of other sectors, and come up with an informed conclusion on Bt 'talong' field trial.

The University of Southern Mindanao, situated in Kabacan, North Cotobato, is one of the approved testing sites for the multi-location field trial of Bt 'talong'. Initial research results from the field trials which have been conducted in other places in the country showed the high resistance of Bt 'talong' to the target insect pest, FSB. It is expected that this Bt technology will improve the marketable yield of eggplant and provide positive impact to the environment and health of farmers due to significant reduction in pesticide use.

For more information about the biotech developments in the country, e-mail bic@agri.searca.org, or visit SEARCA BIC website, www.bic.searca.org.