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Crop Biotech Update

Philippine President Open to Array of Safe Agricultural Technologies

February 18, 2011

In his speech at the Agriculture and Fisheries Summit last February 10, 2011, Philippine President Benigno Aquino said that farmers should be allowed to choose the technologies that are suited to their farm. The president's address, which was delivered by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, stated that the organic agriculture is being supported by the government. Still, he said "in spite of this, we are open to the use of technology that is safe to the environment and would increase the yield and income of farmers."

He was quoted "We shall allow our farmers to choose the technology to which they are comfortable and in which they have developed expertise. This technology should be suited to soil conditions in their farms." Pres. Aquino also highlighted his intention for Filipino farmers to get a significant part in $50-billion global organic food market. He said that the government will set a premium on organic farming trainings for farmers, what with the aim for the country of exporting organic products.

The Biotechnology Program Office of the Department of Agriculture is one of the lead agencies supporting the development of the genetically modified fruit and shoot borer resistant Bt eggplant in the Philippines. The Bt eggplant is a promising Bt crop technology that could resist the damage caused by the most destructive pest-eggplant fruit and shoot borer.

The Philippines is known to be the first in Asia to approve Bt corn for direct food, feed and propagation after several years of food and environmental safety assessment. Since 2003, after eight years of propagation, more than a million hectare of biotech corn have been planted throughout the country. The benefits derived by farmer adopters have been well-documented which include reduced pesticide inputs, improved yield, and better income.

For a related article, visit http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/304170/aquino-keeps-open-mind-biotech-crops. For more information on biotechnology in the Philippines, visit SEARCA BIC website http://www.bic.searca.org or e-mail SEARCA BIC at bic@agri.searca.org.