ILAGAN, Isabela- The province of Isabela has been at the
forefront of biotechnology in the last five years, and everyone
in academic circles would invariably point to one of Isabela
State University (ISU) prominent mentors as deserving of credit
Dr. Helen Ramos has been the spearhead of the biotechnology
campaign here as far as agriculture is concerned.
She is the head of the ISU Biotechnology Information Center
(BIC), a one-stop-shop center where everything a student or
researcher needs to know about biotechnology and its related
fields can be easily accessed.
As head of the ISU College of Arts and Sciences, Ramos has
been advocating the safe propagation of biotechnology. She
is also the main link to the province's local government units
(LGU) and their agricultural officers.
Providing the LGU;s with a logical and pragmatic understanding
of how technology can be made to work for people, Ramos has
earned the respect of mayors and Sangguniang Bayan members
who now accept the fact that biotechnology is a critical key
to food security and poverty alleviation.
"Biotechnology has been with us since time immemorial
and traditional biotechnology has gradually been integrated
into the culture of man," Ramos said. "Therefore
the products are gradually accepted without much controversy."
On the other hand, Ramos said, modern biotechnology has created
controversy primarily because the scientists; expertise on
the subject and the methods they employ are complicated- not
to mention the sophisticated apparatus they use.
'Although it started several decades ago, the thought of seeing
biotechnology products still comes as a surprise to laymen," Ramos
said. "It also created a lot of fuss due to misconception
and misinformation bandied about by anti-biotechnology groups."
Ramos explains that the advantages of modern biotechnology
are confronted by ethical and biosafety issues.
Being a member of the Institutional Biosafety Committee, she
is very much concerned about the long-term effects of biotechnology
on human health and natural diversity that have caused some
institutions to resist adoption and use of crops developed
However, Ramos said the potentials of modern biotechnology
are so great to be ignored.
"This is why we acknowledge that conventional farming
technology will not be able to meet production demands in the
future Agriculture biotechnology will be an essential component
of any global food security strategy, in fact, which is being
envisioned by a government to pole vault agricultural modernization
in the coming years."
Ramos said Region 2 is considered to be the food basket of
the Philippines and is one of the potential adaptors of agricultural
"It is imperative that the people are properly informed
and educated so that they could fully explore the potential
benefits from this technology," Ramos said. "Although
the ISU-BIC started its information drive in 2001, it is apparent
that there is still a dearth of information on this high-end
science that needs to be aired."