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19-May-2011 Business Mirror

Farmers and stakeholders in the development of biotech crops held a communication workshop in Cagayan de Oro City to sharpen their skills in addressing biotech issues, particularly on Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) eggplant.

Held on April 26 and 27 at Pearlmont Inn, the workshop sought to improve the ability of communicators to reply to issues thrown by opponents of biotech crops.

Dr. Candida Adalla, chief of the Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Program Office (DA-BPO), gave an overview of the government’s biotechnology initiatives and highlighted the case of Bt eggplant saying that “the efforts on Bt eggplant will hopefully translate into benefits to Filipino farmers.”

The fruit-and-shoot borer-resistant (FSBR) Bt eggplant is being developed by the University of the Philippine at Los Baños-Institute of Plant Breeding (UPLB-IPB.)

Dr. Adalla added: “This [Bt eggplant] is not a technology for planting tomorrow—it is still under experiment. That is why I am wondering why studying is being opposed.”

Dr. Jane Reyes, University Extension Specialist at the Institute of Strategic Planning and Policy Studies of UPLB, discussed the nature and importance of science communication and imparted helpful tips and lessons on how to write reply as answer questions during panel interviews.

Message mapping, a useful tool in organizing ideas for inquiries and similar situations, was discussed by Jenny Panopio of the Southeast Asian Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture-Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA-BIC).

Dr. Rhodora Aldemita of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Application (ISAAA) provided the participants with the basics and principles of biotechnology, as well as the answers to frequently asked questions related to crop biotechnology.

The workshop was attended by members of the Asian Farmers Regional Network (ASFARNET) Philippines, representatives from the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority and the Bureau of Plant Industry Plant Quarantine Officers, the Philippine Information Agency, and representatives from the University of Southern Mindanao and UP-Mindanao, as well as DA regional offices and field units in Mindanao.

The activity was organized by ASFARNET and DA Regional Office 10, in collaboration with DA-BPO, the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program II, ISAAA and SEARCA-BIC.

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SEAMEO SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center

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