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Crop Biotech Update

Philippine Agri Experts Underscore Need for Alternative Bt Eggplant Technology

May 11, 2012

Several esteemed scientists in the Philippines emphasized the need for an alternative to excessive pesticide spraying in eggplant. Dr. Emiliana Bernardo, entomologist and member of Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) of the Department of Agriculture, said that the current practice of spraying in eggplant farms calls for a healthier and more environment-friendly option.

"The very basic question is ‘which is safer?' The present practice or the alternative, the Bt eggplant which is rigorously evaluated by experts? Is bathing the unharvested eggplant fruits in chemicals, which would end up in dinner tables of people, safe?" said Dr. Bernardo, who is also a member of the Institutional Biosafety Committee of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) for the multi-location field trial in the university. "UPLB is conducting research on Bt eggplant because we know that this has promising potentials and is considered safer than the current practice," she said.

National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) Academician Dr. Ruben L. Villareal said that Bt crops that can resist infestation of specific insect pests are among those prioritized, especially when insect control using conventional means are ineffective and costly. "Based on my experience as a vegetable breeder, there is no existing source of eggplant germplasm that is highly resistant to the fruit and shoot borer. Biotechnology is a tool that could develop varieties that would be advantageous to farmers, consumers and the environment. We are actually very fortunate that the technology is available," said Dr. Villareal.

The full article about the experts' views may be found at http://www.bic.searca.org/press_releases/2012/may11.html. For more information about the development of Bt eggplant in the Philippines, visit http://www.bic.searca.org or e-mail bic@agri.searca.org.