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BUSINESS & SEEDS: Bt corn will raise yields and incomes for Philippine farmers



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   BT CORN RAISES YIELDS, INCOMES FOR FARMERS

SOURCE:  Manila Bulletin, Philippines

AUTHOR:  Marvyn N. Benaning

URL:     http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/288479/bt-corn-raises-yields-incomes-farmers

DATE:    19.11.2010

SUMMARY: "In sum, the scientist noted, less labor and energy, less soil erosion and less weed growth characterize farms planted to Bt corn and this translates to better incomes by way of higher yields. ?Herbicide tolerance can be seen as one way to minimize environmental degradation through reduced soil erosion. With effective means to control corn borers and weeds with minimal disruption of the soil surface, the genetically modified corn hybrids were enthusiastically adopted by corn farmers,? Peczon revealed."

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BT CORN RAISES YIELDS, INCOMES FOR FARMERS

MANILA, Philippines ? The commercialization of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn in 2003 has raised farmers? yields and incomes and reduced soil erosion, scientist Dr. Benigno Peczon says in a recent paper.

Writing on the status of biotechnology in the Philippines for Biolife magazine, Peczon said Bt corn is genetically modified to control insect larvae called corn borers, which had been a bane to farmers since corn was cultured in the country.

He will speak on Bt corn?s benefits during the observance of the 6th National Biotechnology Week at the SM Mall of Asia from November 22 to 28.

?Prior to the introduction of Bt corn, infestation by corn borers were controlled mainly through insecticide spraying. Insecticides are effective only if they eliminate the pests before they enter the plants. After a borer enters a corn plant, no further spraying can effectively eliminate the larvae which are embedded deep within the tissues,? he added.

?If the borers get into the corn kernels, the protective covering of the kernels are destroyed, rendering them susceptible to growth of molds. In addition to the obvious physical downgrading of the corn cob, some types of molds reduce quality through production of aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are among the most poisonous of toxins and have been correlated with serious health hazards, including cancer,? Peczon explained.

A significant volume of the annual corn output actually harbors aflatoxins, he stressed, and these deleterious substances could wreak havoc on the health of humans and livestock that feed on yellow corn.

Apart from the Bt gene that battles corn borers, another gene was introduced into corn seeds to protect the corn from herbicides.

?By definition, a herbicide is intended to destroy herbs, including young corn plants. Introduction of herbicide tolerant corn seeds changed some traditional farming rules,? Peczon noted.

Plowing had been greatly reduced with the use of these seeds and agronomists said that by doing so, soil erosion is reduced, the labor power spent for cultivation is lessened and nutrients are retained in the soil that would otherwise have been washed off with rainwater.

?Agricultural engineers have long known that field preparation, principally plowing, leads to soil erosion. Equations which quantify the extent of erosion exist. Although traditional soil preparation practices have been utilized for centuries and continue to be assiduously practiced with the knowledge that they inexorably lead to erosion, they have been retained because without such land preparation the main crop would soon be overrun with weeds,? he said.

?With the introduction of herbicide tolerance all plants are initially allowed to grow along with the main crop with much reduced soil preparation. At a predetermined point in the growth cycle, a herbicide is sprayed to eliminate most if not all the weeds. Only the herbicide tolerant plants, in this case corn, survive,? Peczon explained.

In sum, the scientist noted, less labor and energy, less soil erosion and less weed growth characterize farms planted to Bt corn and this translates to better incomes by way of higher yields.

?Herbicide tolerance can be seen as one way to minimize environmental degradation through reduced soil erosion. With effective means to control corn borers and weeds with minimal disruption of the soil surface, the genetically modified corn hybrids were enthusiastically adopted by corn farmers,? Peczon revealed.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   TO SAVE MORIBUND COTTON INDUSTRY PHL TURNS TO BIOTECH

SOURCE:  GMA News, Philippines

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.gmanews.tv/story/206635/to-save-moribund-cotton-industry-phl-turns-to-biotech

DATE:    22.11.2010

SUMMARY: "To revive the moribund cotton industry, the government is turning to biotechnology with a view to commercial propagation of Indian hybrid seeds by 2012. Genetically-altered cotton or Bt cotton may be the answer to the ailing industry, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said Monday at the sidelines of the 6th National Biotechnology Week at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City."

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TO SAVE MORIBUND COTTON INDUSTRY PHL TURNS TO BIOTECH

To revive the moribund cotton industry, the government is turning to biotechnology with a view to commercial propagation of Indian hybrid seeds by 2012.

Genetically-altered cotton or Bt cotton may be the answer to the ailing industry, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said Monday at the sidelines of the 6th National Biotechnology Week at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

?Through biotechnology there is a great chance that the cotton industry may still flourish given the proper incentives," Alcala told reporters.

The Agriculture Department will use the re-enacted budget of P54 million to fund ongoing field trials of Bt cotton for 2011, he added.

According to the Biotechnology Program Office, bollworm infestation nearly decimated the cotton industry and it was only in late 2009 that the Philippines was able to test Bt cotton in field trials the results of which are still to be released by Agriculture Department.

The Bt cotton seeds, provided for free by Nath Biogene (India) Ltd., were genetically modified to resist bollworms.

The field trials will evaluate how six Indian hybrid cotton varieties that contain the China-developed fused Bt genes are effective in resisting bollworm infestation under local conditions.

Bt cotton is planted largely in China and India, where the genetically-altered varieties have been proven to lower production costs while raising the yield, the Agriculture Department said.

The Philippine needs about 40,000 metric tons ? in lint terms ? of cotton valued at P3 billion a year, of which nearly all but 3 percent is imported primarily from the US.