GENET archive


2-Plants: Philippines at forefront of using biotechnology in agriculture

                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Philippines at forefront of using biotechnology in agriculture
SOURCE: Business World, Philippines
DATE:   1 Apr 2005

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Philippines at forefront of using biotechnology in agriculture

The Philippines is at the forefront of using biotechnology as an
alternative means to ensure food security and alleviate poverty, and
women are playing a bigger role in its propagation.

Dr. Clive James, visiting chairman of the board of directors of the
International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Application
(ISAAA), 8.1 million farmers worldwide who benefited from biotechnology
were subsistence farmers in developing countries.

In the Philippines, some 50,000 subsistence farmers plant Bacillus
thuringiensis (Bt) corn which is resistant to the dreaded Asiatic corn borer.

Mr. James, who is an agricultural epidemiologist noted that in the Bt
corn fields of the Philippines, said that in the KwaZulu Natal province
of South Africa, and the Xingjiang province of China, women farmers are
reported to be a contributing factor in the propagation of biotech crops.

"Women produce 80% of the food, feed and fiber of South Africa," Mr.
James said. "And in the Philippines, it is striking to know that there
are lots of women farmers involved in the production of Bt corn so women
are playing a very important role here."

Mr. James also cited the role of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in
approving the use of biotechnology in the country.

He said Mrs. Arroyo played a key role in making biotechnology a role
model for other Asian countries to follow.

"I don't know what will happen if she had opposed the technology," Mr.
James said. "More Filipinos will end up malnourished and the issue of
poverty will remain a bigger problem in the year[s] to come."

He said there are several major benefits generated by biotechnology,
including increase in productivity where Bt corn farmers got a 40%
increase in yields, or eight times more than the 5% increase in Bt corn
yield in the US.

Mr. James said the global value of production from biotech crops in 2003
was $44 billion.

He said another benefit from biotechnology is the challenge of feeding
the world by year 2050. He said 90% of the population will be living in
the developing countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Mr. James said biotechnology can also help preserve biodiversity and
protect the environment, particularly in soil erosion.

He also noted that scientists are looking at the possibility of producing
drought-tolerant biotech crops.

"Biotechnology has been proven safe and we have 10 years of experience in
the technology and not a single death related to it has been reported,"
Mr. James said.

"We have thousands of farmers attesting to its benefit gains and not a
single one of them have reported a loss of profit or loss of life."

In the 2004 annual report released by ISAAA, the Philippines was ranked
no. 14 among countries producing agricultural biotech product.

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Filipino Scientists Develop GM Papaya
SOURCE: Philippine News Agency / Asia Pulse / Yahoo
DATE:   18 Mar 2005

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Filipino Scientists Develop GM Papaya

MANILA, March 18 Asia Pulse - Filipino scientists have developed another
genetically modified (GM) plant which is expected to be commercially
released soon.

Dr. Bienvenido Pecson, president of the Biotechnology Coalition of the
Philippines, said Filipino scientists led by Dr. Desiree Hautea, are now
perfecting a variety of papaya that can resist ringspot disease.

"The technology is already available here, but we still have the field
tests," he said.

If approved, this new papaya variety will be the second GM plant to be
grown in the Philippines -- the first was the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
corn which was approved for commercialization in December 2002 despite
opposition from cause-oriented groups.

Ringspot disease can cause severe damage to papaya. It was discovered in
the country during the 1990s.

The gene for the GM papaya was first developed in Hawaii and has been
used by scientists of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry
and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) in the
development of new variety that can resist ringspot virus.

Pecson said the new papaya variety solved the problem in Hawaii, which
had reduced papaya production due to the disease.

He expressed hope that non-government organizations will eventually stop
their protests on the propagation of genetically modified plants, saying
that scientists have proven that these crops are safe.

When multinational company Monsanto started its field-test of Bt corn in
the different parts of the country, cause-oriented groups protested what
it said were the possible bad effects that the product would bring to
human and the environment.

The GMO opposers asked the government to compel companies producing such
products to label them so that consumers would have the choice.

However, Pecson said the labelling of GM products is unnecessary,
considering that these products have been proven safe scientifically.


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