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[genet-news] BUSINESS & POLICY: Asian biotech farmers endorse Bt eggplants field trials at ISAAA conference





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TITLE:   FARMERS BACK FIELD TRIALS FOR GM EGGPLANT

SOURCE:  The Philippine Star, Philippines

AUTHOR:  Rudy A. Fernandez

URL:     http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=627705&publicationSubCategoryId=77

DATE:    07.11.2010

SUMMARY: "The farmers endorsed the continuation of the field trials of the Gm or BT eggplants in a resolution they unanimously passed at the ?Second National Agri-biotech Farmers Conference: Productivity and Sustainability through Agri-biotechnology? [The conference ...] was supported by the Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Program Office, Philippine Maize Federation, the Los Baños-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture-Biotechnology Information Center, and International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications."

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FARMERS BACK FIELD TRIALS FOR GM EGGPLANT

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna, Philippines  ­­? Farmer-leaders from across the country have expressed strong support for the multilocation trials of genetically modified (GM) eggplants now being conducted by government researchers.

The farmers endorsed the continuation of the field trials of the Gm or BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) eggplants in a resolution they unanimously passed at the ?Second National Agri-biotech Farmers Conference: Productivity and Sustainability through Agri-biotechnology? held recently in Reina Mercedes, Isabela.

The conference was organized by the Asian Farmers Regional Network (ASFARNET)-Philippines. It was supported by the Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Program Office (DA-BPO), Philippine Maize Federation (PhilMaize), the Los Baños-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture-Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA-BIC), and International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

Farmers from the country?s 15 regions approved unanimously a resolution supporting the continuation of the multilocation trials of the fruit and shoot borer (FSB)-resistant Bt eggplant.

?The multilocation trials of Bt eggplant must be pushed as most of the farmers are already looking forward to the Bt eggplant seeds which are expected to raise their productivity, improve their livelihood, and reduce their health hazards due to widespread pesticide use,? said Felicito Osorio, board member of ASFARNET-Philippines and PhilMaize.

Reynaldo Cabanao, ASFARNET-Philippines president, said the decision to adopt the Bt eggplant technology is with the farmers.

Edwin Paraluman, regional coordinator of ASFARNET from General Santos City (Cotabato), concurred, saying the group?s advocacy is ?farmers? choice.?

Bt eggplant, according to studies could raise farmers? income by P50,000 owing to reduction in pesticide use and labor cost. The Bt eggplant technology is also expected to protect farmers from the health risks associated with chemical pesticides.

The research project primarily aims to develop an eggplant resistant to fruit and shoot borer, the most destructive pest attacking eggplant in the Philippines and other Asian countries. FSB can cause yield losses of 51 to 73 percent.

Eggplant is now the country?s leading vegetable crop, area-wise and volume of production. A good source of vitamins, fibers, and minerals, eggplant is one of the main sources of livelihood of small-scale farmers.

So far, there are no commercial varieties of eggplants with high resistance to FSB in the Philippines.

Bt eggplant produces a natural protein that makes it resistant to FSB.

Once an FSB caterpillar feeds on Bt eggplant fruits, leaves, and shoots, it stops eating and eventually dies. The Bt protein in eggplant only affects FSB and not humans, farm animals, and other nontarget organisms.

The Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Ltd. (Mahyco) in India has developed a highly resistant biotech eggplant now used in the Philippines, India, and Bangladesh as source of FSB-resistant traits.

UPLB is developing FSB-resistant eggplant in partnership with Mahyco and Cornell University (New York, USA) and with support from DA, ISAAA, SEARCA-BIC, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSP).




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