The Department of Agriculture (DA) and its partner institutions are seeking more legislation in support of biotechnology development in the country to help address food security amid a rising population.
“We need a policy environment conducive to innovation and technology development,” DA Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano said at the opening of the exhibit dubbed “Bioteknolohiya: Pambansang Hamon, Pambansang Solusyon” mounted at the Congress building in Quezon City on Monday.
Organizers of the exhibit said the event was for legislators to further learn about biotechnology and its benefits to people, so they could craft laws that would promote the industry’s development.
“Biotechnology’s benefits are meaningful, especially as the country’s population is growing,” said House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in his message read by Iloilo 4th District Rep. Ferjenel Biron at the exhibit’s opening.
“I enjoin legislators: Let’s work together and strengthen support for this,” Alvarez said. “The goal is to act now for real progress to begin. Convergence and innovation is the key. Together, let’s work hand in hand in furthering this breakthrough.”
Congress’ agriculture and food committee partnered with the DA in staging the exhibit. Also with them in the initiative were the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP).
There is need to look into biotechnology’s benefits, the committee’s chairperson, ANAC-IP Partylist Representative Jose Panganiban Jr., said in his message in the event.
According to SEARCA, biotechnology can also make Philippine products internationally competitive and resilient to climate change. The Asian organization said biotechnology enables scientists to insert genes with desired traits into species they want to improve.
“Biotechnology is a modern technology that makes use of organisms or parts thereof to make or modify products, improve, and develop micro-organisms, plants or animals, or develop organisms for specific purposes in a more precise manner,” SEARCA said.
On the other hand, ISAAA Director Rhodora Aldemita said the Philippine’s rising population also raises the urgency to develop biotechnology to produce enough food for the nation.
“We can do so with policies conducive to doubling production,” she said at the event.
Aldemita added biotechnology could help address agricultural productivity and innovation, and problems on transboundary pests and diseases, nutrition and health, climate change, and food losses and waste.
Among current laws supporting biotechnology is Republic Act 8435 or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997.
Executive Order 430 series of 1990 constituted the NCBP to oversee compliance with biosafety policies and guidelines of all public and private institutions engaged in modern biotechnology.
EO 514 series of 2006 established the National Biosafety Framework for enhancing the country’s existing biosafety regulatory system.
“Biosafety is a condition, in which probability of harm, injury, and damage resulting from the intentional and unintentional introduction and/or use of a transgenic material is within acceptable and manageable levels,” the NCBP said.
The biotechnology exhibit also featured “HI-Q VAM 1” biofertilizer, developed by the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, for growing high-quality forest trees and agronomic plants.
The IRRI also displayed samples of its drought-, flood- and salinity-tolerant rice varieties.
SEARCA showed portions of biotechnology-enhanced corn leaf that is resistant to pests such as corn borers.
By PTV – NEWS AB