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Crop Biotech Update

University Students Updated on Bt 'Talong', Learn its Benefits and Potentials

January 28, 2011

Science, benefits, and safety of biotech crops in the Philippines, particularly the promising fruit and shoot borer resistant Bt 'talong' (eggplant), was discussed by experts to more than 200 college students of Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) in a symposium titled "Creating Awareness, Knowledge and Understanding of Biotech Crops" last January 17, 2011.

In his opening message, Dr. Leonardo D. Sureta, Dean of the Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Environmental Management, CBSUA, emphasized that the symposium is an opportunity to acquire knowledge and gain appreciation for research endeavors and collaboration of their university on biotechnology. Dr. Eden C. Paz, Vice President for Academic Affairs of CBSUA, averred they can analyze the positive and negative issues of Bt eggplant. She said that it is important to recognize the different techniques of biotechnology and more importantly, its contributions, such as that in plant variety improvement. She also pointed out that the only way that the poor can increase their income is to increase their productivity, and that application of modern biotechnology can greatly help.

In the symposium proper, the development of the project and the science behind the upcoming fruit and shoot borer resistant Bt eggplant was discussed by Dr. Lourdes Taylo, entomologist and study leader of Bt eggplant project in the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB). She gave an update on what is being done in research and development, and how it has progressed from technology acquisition until its current research phase under the multi-location trials. She also shared the Bt eggplant's potential benefits and opportunities, and clarified it is as safe to humans and other non-target insects, based on the long history of safe use of the Bt technology.

Another entomologist, Mario Navasero of UPLB, discussed the safety assessments for non-target arthropods and the complementation of the use of Bt eggplant with other control tactics in the context of Integrated Pest Management program for eggplant. Dr. Evangeline de la Trinidad of the Regional Crop Protection Center, Region V, also talked about her roles as an Institutional Biosafety Committee member, a monitoring arm of the Bureau of Plant Industry, in ensuring safety of biotech crops prior to commercial deployment based on science-based risk assessment and management.

The symposium was co-organized by CBSUA, Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Program Office, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSPII), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture-Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA BIC).

For more updates about the symposium and biotechnology developments in the Philippines, visit http://www.bic.searca.org or email bic@agri.searca.org.