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BUSINESS & POLICY: ”Biotech corn ambassadress of Asia” bemoans delay of Philippine Bt eggplant trials



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   PHILIPPINES EGGPLANT PROJECT DELAYED

SOURCE:  Truth About Trade and Technology, USA

AUTHOR:  Rosalie Ellasus

URL:     http://www.truthabouttrade.org/news/editorials/guest-commentary/17422-philippines-eggplant-project-delayed

DATE:    17.02.2011

SUMMARY: "The enemies of biotechnology will stop at nothing to prevent farmers in the developing world from growing GM crops. A few weeks ago in the Philippines, they literally uprooted progress?and put a bright future just a little bit further out of reach. Here?s what happened. Researchers affiliated with the University of the Philippines at Mindanao were trying to produce a better talong, also known as eggplant. [...] But now we?ve lost this opportunity, at least for the time being, because of a paperwork error."

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PHILIPPINES EGGPLANT PROJECT DELAYED

Rosalie Ellasus is a first-generation farmer, growing corn and rice in San Jacinto, Philippines. Rosalie allows her farm to be used as a demonstration pilot for smallholder farmers to visit and learn from. She currently serves as President of the Philippine Maize Federation and is a member of the Truth About Trade & Technology Global Farmer Network. 

The enemies of biotechnology will stop at nothing to prevent farmers in the developing world from growing GM crops. A few weeks ago in the Philippines, they literally uprooted progress?and put a bright future just a little bit further out of reach.

Here?s what happened. Researchers affiliated with the University of the Philippines at Mindanao were trying to produce a better talong, also known as eggplant. This is our country?s leading vegetable. A genetically enhanced variety would be a boon to small-scale farmers like me because it would allow us to grow more food at better prices for my family and a hungry planet.

But now we?ve lost this opportunity, at least for the time being, because of a paperwork error.

Apparently the university neglected to post a certain public-disclosure form at a nearby city hall. It is of course essential for the men and women who work on crop research to meet regulatory standards, even when they involve big spools of red tape. Although the supporters of biotechnology have science on their side, we cannot be perceived as cutting corners. It serves the agenda of our adversaries, who are searching for any reason they can find to prevent farmers from taking advantage of this vital tool to grow more and better food.

In the case of the talong crops, it?s a shame that this paperwork blunder couldn?t be worked out. Nobody?s health or safety was ever at risk. Honest mistakes, as this one appears to be, deserve a chance to be corrected. The idea is for paperwork to serve the interests of people rather than the other way around. Bureaucrats occasionally forget this.

Unfortunately, the school?s error gave anti-biotech protestors all the excuse they needed to clamor against the field trials. In the end, the town hosting the test crops destroyed 3,000 plants. Researchers say that it has delayed their work by at least six months.

?It was unjust,? said Eufemio Rasco Jr., the university?s lead scientist. ?The moral equivalent of putting a jaywalker before a firing squad. We were punished for a flimsy reason.?

Fortunately, the planting of test crops at other sites means that researchers will gain the data they need in order the commercialize GM talong soon.

I?m hopeful that small-scale farmers in the Philippines eventually will enjoy the opportunity to grow GM talong, which possesses a natural resistance to pests. As food prices soar around the globe, it?s important for farmers to develop sustainable methods of producing as much food as possible. This means we?ll need full access to the same 21st-century technologies used on a regular basis by farmers in the United States, Canada, and South America.

When I started to plant biotech corn a few years ago, I became one of the first farmers in the Philippines to take advantage of this wonderful product. Now farmers all over my country would like to use it because they know it will improve productivity and livelihood as well as reduce health hazards associated with pesticide use.

The commercialization of GM talong also will make it easier to supply nutritious food to hungry people?a constant challenge in the developing world. Talong is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fibers. We often serve it on our family table, as t?ortang talong (an omelet) or pinakbet (mixed with vegetables).

I?m looking forward to the advent of GM talong. When it comes, I?ll be one of the first to eat it. And I am planning to have one hectare (2.4 acres) of my land planted in talong too.

This particular battle isn?t confined to the Philippines. In India, anti-biotech protestors have succeeded in putting off the approval of GM eggplants (which the Indians call brinjal). In both countries, the future of food is in doubt and so the stakes are high.

We must agree that scientists should be allowed to conduct their tests and perform their analyses?and without irresponsible interference from fearful people who refuse to understand all that we?re missing.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   FARMER PROFILE - PHILIPPINES - ELLASUS - BIOTECH CORN AMBASSADRESS OF ASIA

SOURCE:  CropLife International, Belgium

AUTHOR:  Case Studies

URL:     http://db.zs-intern.de/uploads/1298018550-4761_CS_2009_05_13_Farmer_Profile_-_Philippines_-_Ellasus_-_biotech_corn_ambassadress_of_Asia.pdf

DATE:    13.05.2009

SUMMARY: "From being a struggling widow in San Jacinto, the Philippines, Rosalie Ellasus now travels Asia and the world sharing her inspirational biotech farming experience with farmers, regulators, the media and even anti-biotech groups. [...] With no previous farming experience ? some challenging times followed. Rosalie and her neighbours faced repeated buyer rejections as their corn was affected by mites, disease and fungi producing toxins, resulting in poor quality products."

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FARMER PROFILE - PHILIPPINES - ELLASUS - BIOTECH CORN AMBASSADRESS OF ASIA

>From being a struggling widow in San Jacinto, the Philippines, Rosalie Ellasus now travels Asia and the world sharing her inspirational biotech farming experience with farmers, regulators, the media and even anti-biotech groups.

Rosalie?s farming saga started in 1995 when her husband died, leaving her with three small children to raise and educate. This office worker took a gamble and bet all her savings on buying a 1.3 hectare rice and corn farm. With no previous farming experience ? some challenging times followed. Rosalie and her neighbours faced repeated buyer rejections as their corn was affected by mites, disease and fungi producing toxins, resulting in poor quality products. Never giving up, she joined an Integrated Pest Management ? Farmers School (IPM-FFS) in 2001. At graduation Rosalie was hooked on ag-science and best practices, but the real turning point came when she visited a Bt corn demonstration farm in Sta. Maria, Pangasinan, Philippines. The corn was beautiful ? and Rosalie was on an upward curve. In 2002 she held a Bt/non-Bt corn demo on her own farm, and it was the best attended in San Jancinto ? plus the good results were easy to see. Then Rosalie moved on to stacked trait, insec
 ticide/herbicide resistant corn. From her first efforts in 2001 to 2008, yields rose from 3.5 to 7-9 tonnes per hectare. In 2006 she earned a 125 percent return from her 6 hectare, stacked trait corn farm. And, Rosalie?s biotech success continued in 2009 when her, now, 10 hectares produced 8.9 tonnes per hectare.

In 2009, two of her sons earned a Software Engineering and B.S. Nursing graduate degree respectively, her youngest son sadly having died in a 2005 car accident.

Rosalie actively shares benefits of her success through local and international agricultural organisations. In 2007 she won the globally recognised Dean Kleckner Trade & Technology Advancement Award, and still works hard as the Immediate Past President of the Philippines Maize Federation. Best of all, her golden hectares continue to reflect her very golden outlook.