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6-Regulation: Philippines introduced rules on GE food testing

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TITLE:  Philippines Now Requires All GM Foods to Undergo Testing
SOURCE: Philippine News Agency / Asia Pulse
DATE:   9 Sep 2005

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Philippines Now Requires All GM Foods to Undergo Testing

MANILA, Sept 9 Asia Pulse - The national government now requires risk
assessment of all genetically modified (GM) foods, in an effort to
guarantee the quality and safety of products with genetically modified
organisms (GMO).

The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) has assured Filipinos that before GM
products are released commercially in the market, all goods will pass
through the safety assessment of the agency, specifically its Scientific
and Technical Research Panel.

The panel identifies possible sources of danger by comparing the GM crop
with its non-GM counterpart, predicts the possibility of the danger
occurring and evaluates level of damage should any danger occurs.

According to Thelma Soriano, a member of the Biotech Core team of BPI,
the risk or safety assessment addresses the same safety issues and
concerns raised by anti-GMO campaigns.

Only after a genetically modified food item has been approved, would it
be granted a permit for commercial distribution.

In the case of Bt corn, before it was approved, lead agencies of the
Department of Agriculture (DA) assessed the scientific evidence presented
by Monsanto for its Bt corn Mon810.

BPI, Soriano said, reviewed its environmental risk while the Bureau of
Animal Industry looked into the products safety on animal health. The
Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Products Standards likewise looked
into the human health risk factor of GM crops. The Fertilizer and
Pesticide Authority and a non-DA advisory body were also involved.

The said agencies approved Bt corn Mon810 because they found it safe to
humans, animals, and non-target organisms. It also found that Bt corn was
as nutritious as ordinary corn, safer than chemical insecticides and very
effective in controlling Asiatic corn borer.

Biotechnology is the use of living organisms or parts of organisms to
create new products. It has been practiced for many centuries by the
breeding and selection of superior plants and animals, the use of yeast
to make bread and even the making of cheese using enzymes.

Today, biotechnology involves more than these traditional techniques. It
is used to produce vaccines and medicines and to help protect the
environment by converting organic wastes from rubbish dumps into useful

In the area of food production, biotechnology is helping to produce
improved crops and to reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides in food

In 2003, the Asian Food Information Centre commissioned research using
focus group discussions methods in the Philippines, China and India to
assess the perception of adults toward biotechnology foods as well as to
test and develop appropriate educational messages on issues relevant to
food biotechnology.

Based on the research, majority of consumers adopted an open-mind towards
biotechnology foods and did not reject them per se. Many participants in
the discussions clearly had very limited knowledge about food
biotechnology but interestingly, increasing knowledge levels were
associated with increasingly positive acceptance of biotechnology foods.

The application of biotechnology to potentially produce foods with
enhanced nutritional value or requiring less pesticide for cultivation,
elicited very positive responses. Consumers found this information highly
credible, and expressed desire for further information on such potential


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