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2-Plants: Budget lack hits field tests of GE rice

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TITLE:  Budget lack hits field tests of genetically modified rice
SOURCE: Financial Times - Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, by Leilani M. 
DATE:   Dec 27, 2002

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Budget lack hits field tests of genetically modified rice

Lack of budgetary support is expected to put a monkey wrench into local 
scientists' efforts to develop a local genetically modified (GM) rice 
variety for commercial use.

Bureau of Plant Industry assistant director Ceferino Baniqued told a press 
conference last week state-owned Philippine Rice Research Institute 
(PhilRice) may not be able to fulfill a plan to conduct multiple field 
location testing next year for a genetically modified rice variety 
resistant to bacterial blight.

"PhilRice does not have the budget for that. Under Administrative Order No. 
8 (AO 8) or the rules governing the commercialization and propagation of 
genetically modified crops in the country, multiple field tests in several 
locations across the country have to be done," he said.

Dr. Rhodora Aldemita, PhilRice chief science research specialist, said in 
an earlier report the bacterial blight-resistant rice variety is in field 
testing phase in PhilRice's Munoz, Nueva Ecija, facility. To be able to 
move to the next phase towards commercialization, she said PhilRice plans 
to conduct at least seven field tests next year.

PhilRice needs to raise at least P1.4 million to fund the activity since 
each field test covering 1,700 square meters would cost P200,000 for a two-
month operation.

The seven field tests would have to be repeated again to cover another 
planting season and to ensure the crop will pass environmental, health and 
food safety standards set by AO 8.

A GM or transgenic crop is a plant that contains a gene or genes that has 
been artificially inserted to create a desired trait. GM crops such as 
corn, soybean and cotton are widely used in the United States and China but 
will only be pioneered in the Philippines next year following this month's 
government approval of the commercialization of bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) 

The commercialization of Bt corn in the country was spearheaded by 
multinational seed company Monsanto Philippines, Inc. through a five-year 
research and field test process.

PhilRice had said it expects to commercialize in the next three years its 
GM rice variety to help local farmers address the problem of bacterial 

Bacterial blight adversely affects the leaves of paddy rice plants, making 
them nonfunctional. The disease is usually characterized by the yellowing 
of the affected plant's leaves.

Bacterial blight can cut yields by 20% to 30% if the disease hits the crop 
during its seedling stage. Losses can run up to 100% if the disease strikes 
mature palay crops.

The mother plant of the new variety is IR-72, one of the high-yielding rice 
varieties developed in the Philippines.

Earlier attempts to produce rice varieties resistant to bacterial blight 
were successful but these were not locally commercialized because the taste 
did not gain much acceptance in the domestic market.


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