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Crop Biotech Update

University of Southern Mindanao Conducts Seminar on Bt Eggplant

January 14, 2011

The Philippines' University of Southern Mindanao (USM) president Dr. Jesus Antonio G. Derije said that the university is involved in education, research, extension, and resource generation. Thus, they have partnered in the multi-location field trial of the fruit and shoot borer (FSB) resistant Bt ‘talong' (eggplant) project. He pointed out that research is necessary to confirm if the allegations against Bt 'talong' are true or not. The USM President gave these remarks during a "Seminar on Understanding the Science, Safety, and Benefits of Bt Crops Technology" last January 13, 2011 which was co-organized with the Provincial Government of Northern Cotobato. In this activity, experts and stakeholders of crop biotechnology discussed the science, regulation, and experiences on biotech crops.

In the seminar, Dr. Emma K. Sales, a faculty in USM, said that biotechnology is "a word of hope" for informed people because they know it could help in solving diverse health, environment and food supply problems. She encouraged the students to be aggressive in learning the science so that they would be able to understand the issues surrounding the technology and appreciate more its benefits and potentials.

Ms. Merle Palacpac, Chair of the Biotech Core Team of the Bureau of Plant Industry, meanwhile, assured that the biosafety regulation are in place and the Philippines is being considered as a model in successfully implementing its science-based risk assessment procedures, and thus able to approve GM/biotech crops for commercial use.

Currently, there are several biotech corn events approved for commercial propagation in the country, and Filipino corn farmers have been planting it since 2003. Rosalie Ellasus, biotech corn farmer from northern part of the Philippines shared her first-hand experiences in planting biotech crops and assured the participants that it has benefited her in terms of improving her life and making corn farming a safer and more sustainable livelihood.

The seminar was part of the continuing consultation and education activities to inform the public and key stakeholders on the issues, concerns and facts related to the Bt 'talong' project. The activity was attended by students, academics,  farmers, legislators and media practitioners from the Cotobato province.

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