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Crop Biotech Update

Science Officials Welcome Favorable Decisions on Bt Eggplant

June 17, 2011

Experts from concerned agencies and government offices in the Philippines have given their approval on the Laguna Provincial Prosecutor's resolution to charge with malicious mischief the vandals of the fruit and shoot borer resistant Bt eggplant experiment in the Institute of Plant Breeding-University of the Philippines Los Baños; and on the decision of North Cotabato Provincial council to finally allow the field testing of the said Bt crop in the town of Kabacan.

Dr. Ruben Villareal of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) said in a statement that the academy is pleased to learn about the prosecutor's decision. "The (Bt eggplant field trial) experiment is a completely rightful and scientific research and no one should hinder its development, especially those with unscientific claims," he said. Villareal also said that the sabotage goes against NAST's position in supporting agricultural biotechnology. The responsible application and utilization of GM technologies has been identified as part of NAST's Philippine Agenda 2020, a medium term strategic plan for agriculture and natural resources sector that the Academy is forwarding.

The Municipal Agriculture Officer of Sta. Maria, Pangasinan and Chair of the Institutional Biosafety Committee for the Bt eggplant field trial there, Dr. Reynaldo Segui, also spoke well of the prosecutor's recommendation to pursue the case, saying that it was a wise judgment. "Farmers should not lose hope of acquiring this beneficial technology just because of a group's negative attitude towards GM crops," he said.

Meanwhile, Chair of the Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Program Office (DA-BPO) Dr. Candida Adalla said that the prosecutor's decision should denote to all concerned that there are rules that guide people's actions. "The rights of a person should not impinge on the rights of others," she wrote in a statement. Dr. Adalla was also delighted with the North Cotabato Provincial Council's endorsement to go on with the field trial in Kabacan. "This means that our efforts to educate the public sector (including the local government units (LGUs) and members of the judiciary) are bearing fruits. This is also an indication that decisions and public perception are now basically becoming science-based," she said.

For more information about Bt eggplant in the Philippines, visit SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center's website http://www.bic.searca.org or e-mail bic@agri.searca.org.