Scientists from government agencies and state colleges and universities in
various parts of the country have appealed to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
that the field-testing of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the
country be continued in order that a continuing research and education on
biotechnology can take place.
"We seek your support to local biotechnology R&D program to
further boost our capability for agricultural modernization," the
scientists from institutions from the Ilocos region to Mindanao stated
in a petition letter to the chief executive.
The signatories to the petition letter come from the University of the
Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Department of Science and
Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural
Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCARRD), DOST-Philippine Council
for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development (PCASTRD),
Department of Agriculture (DA), DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice),
DA-Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research
(BAR), the UPLB-based Biotechnology Information Center (BIC) for Southeast
Asia, Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD), the Los Baños-based International
Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) Southeast
Asia Center, National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP);
Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and
Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB), Bureau of Export Trade Promotions (BETP),
Far Eastern University (FEU), Isabela State University (ISU), Mariano
Marcos State University (MMSU, Batac, Ilocos Norte), Central MindanaoUniversity (CMU), Biotech Lead (Monsanto). and Pioneer Hi-Bred
The scientists described themselves as "your partners in realizing
social equity, food security and global competitiveness for the
"Filipino scientists have always aimed at developing products and
processes designed to improve the lives of Filipino farmers and
consumers," they stated. These include improved varieties of crops,
fish stocks, and animal breeds; production of off-season fruits,
vegetables, and ornamental plants – processes that lengthen the
shelf-life of plant and food products and give better tasting and
In spite of all these developments using conventional techniques, research
shows that the productivity level has reached a plateau. The burden of
feeding a fast-growing population that will double in 35 years to 150
million combined with shrinking arable lands is exerting pressure on the
Philippines’ objectives of achieving food security and poverty
"Thus, we must find new ways to address this huge dilemma," they
The scientists explained that modern biotechnology, which includes genetic
engineering, is a powerful technology currently harnessed by 13 countries.
More than 44 million hectares had been planted to biotechnology crops as
of Year 2000.
"For agricultural crops, it has been proven to immensely improve
production, while minimizing the need for expensive and potentially
harmful chemical inputs like pesticides. Hence, it could help increase the
income of small-scale farmers, provide more nutritious food at affordable
prices to consumers while supporting the sustainability and preservation
of the environment," they emphasized.
They also noted that modern biotechnology in the pharmaceutical sector has
been achieved long ago. This technology is also extensively used in the
livestock sector in the production of recombinant vaccines.
"It is essential that the technology be also harnessed to improve
food and agriculture in the Philippines," they stated.
According to them, the science community, together with the government and
the consumers, recognizes the safety concerns over genetically modified
Hence, prudent steps are being taken to assure the safety of the general
public through regulatory agencies such as the BFAD, BPI, Bureau of Animal
Industry (BAI), Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority
(FPA), Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), and Bureau of
Agricultural and Fishery Products Standards (BAFPS).
The creation in 1990 of the National Committee on Biosafety of the
Philippines through Executive Order 430 provides the mechanism for the
safe conduct of biotechnology research and development.
Biosafety guidelines and mechanisms have been formulated after extensive
The set of guidelines developed by the NCBP on the handling and release of
GMO is one of the world’s most stringent, compliance of which is
strictly monitored by the NCBP. The committee is multisectoral and
includes representatives from the government, the scientific community,
the public, and civil society.
members of civil society – farmers, industry associations, professional
associations and business community – have joined the science and
academic community in supporting research and development and responsible
use of GMOs," they concluded.