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24-August-2007 Malaya
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Biotechnology experts have called on the government to intensify the cultivation of crops that profuce biofuel like jatropha curcas and coconut, even as they underscored the need to breed drought-resistant crops and saline-tolerant fish to obviate the impact of the prolonged drought.

Jatropha, known locally as tuba-tuba, produces oil that performs as good as diesel and the plant can be planted even in hostile terrain and the most inhospitable soil.

Research on coconut oil as a green fuel has also been undertaken by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) in Zamboanga City and results have been encouraging, with the oil used as fuel to run pick-ups and farm equipment.

Government is also trying to identify which areas could be developed for the massive production of genetically-modified sugarcane, cassava, sweet sorghum, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn and other crops that yield between 9 percent and 18 percent alcohol for the production of ethanol.

Scientists from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the AgricultureTechnology Institute (ATI) who have been concerned with the prolonged drought have also called on the Arroyo administration to develop superior crops through gene-splicing technique to come up with drought-resistant varieties as well as crop varieties that can survive severe flooding.

Rafael Guerrero of the Philippine Council for Marine and Aquatic Resources Research and Development (PCAMRRD), who warned that the long-dry spell might affect in-land fishponds and fish cages recommended the use of high-saline tolerant fish variety developed specifically for such weather condition.

He said for brackish fish cages, high saline-tolerant fish, especially tilapia, should be used to minimize loss as a consequence of the dry spell.

Advocates of biotechnology said it is during this crucial times that the wonders of biotechnology work to offer government a better solution to the country’s woes, and farmers a better alternative to increase their farm production.


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