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‘Prospects good for biotech crops’
16-April-2012 The Visayan Daily Star
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MANILA – The Philippines should take advantage of its pioneering role in Asia for the development and commercialization of biotech crops, Agriculture Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Segfredo Serrano said.

Serrano said modern biotechnology has already taken root in the country and this edge must be exploited to the hilt.

He said the Philippines was actually the first country in Asia to commercialize Bacillus thuringiensis corn as it issued the permit for the massive propagation of the transgenic crop in 2002. “This approval was issued after the proponent complied with all the requirements and the GM crop underwent the prescribed set of procedures,” Serrano said.

The risk assessment and efficacy validation were conducted under contained conditions and multi-location field trials, he added. He noted that the infrastructure for full agri-biotechnology research and development was firmed up as early as 1979, when the National Institute for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology was established.

The enactment of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act in 1997 also led government to give priority to biotechnology programs in its annual budgetary allocations since the country’s accession to the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade and its successor, the World Trade Organization, allowed freer entry of agricultural products.

In countering the flood of cheap, subsidized foreign farm goods, government thought biotechnology would allow farmers to raise their crop outputs at lower production costs. Serrano said “biotechnology offers potentials in achieving greater productivity in agriculture and comparative advantage to allied industries and the business sector.”

Since the country also plunged headlong into globalization, he said, Filipino farmers and fishermen must sharpen their technological edge to be competitive in the global market.*PNA

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