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PHILIPPINES Savants hail SC’s issuing
writ on Bt eggplant by Jonathan Mayuga / Correspondent
15-May-2012 Business Mirror View
SCIENTISTS welcomed the Supreme
Court’s issuance of the writ of kalikasan on the issue of
thuringiensis (Bt) eggplant project, saying it will elevate
the debate on the issue of genetically modified organisms
and biotechnology in general to a higher level.
Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) President Emil
Q. Javier said: “The writ of kalikasan provides us the venue
to ventilate the issues in an informed manner.? There is
a risk but there is also an opportunity to lay the issues
on the table.”
The NAST supports the conduct of the field trial of Bt
talong, saying its success will help boost production of
one of most economically important vegetables in the country
and other parts of Asia.
The project, according to Dr. Diseree Hautea, leader of
the Bt eggplant project, will proceed as scheduled, asserting
that health and environmental safety protocols have been
observed in the conduct of the project.
According to Javier, the health and environmental safety
issues raised by Greenpeace, the main petitioner of the
writ of kalikasan, is baseless and, in fact, “not scientific.”
Javier was reacting to the result of a scientific experiment
on mice presented by Greenpeace to the SC in filing its
petition for the Writ of Kalikasan. He said injecting mice
with a very high dosage of Bt toxins will naturally result
to the death of mice but such process has been dismissed
even by the very institutions to conclude that Bt technology
is safe or not.
He said the writ of kalikasan has once again opened the
debate on the issue of GMO and scientists will prove that
the technology is safe, both to human and animal health,
as well as to the environment, the same way that scientists
were able to pass the stringent biosafety requirement in
the case of Bt corn, which was also opposed by Greenpeace.
of the Philippines Los Baños President Rex Victor O.
Cruz reiterated his support behind the conduct of the field
trials of Bt eggplant, saying such project is also a demonstration
of how UPLB upholds academic freedom through research and
He said UPLB will continue to pursue scientific research
and studies, it being one of the leading learning institutions
in the field of agriculture, as well as science and technology.
He said they are now preparing their comment to the SC’s
“writ of kalikasan.”
“The writ of kalikasan does not stop the experiment. What
the SC wants is for the proponents to answer the issues
and concerns raised by the petitioner. We will answer them
point? by point,” he said.
The 10-year-old Bt eggplant project is on its final stage.
Scientists expect the commercialization of Bt eggplant by
2013. The project aims to develop eggplant varieties that
are resistant to the pest, particularly fruit and shoot
Infestation of fruit and shoot borer can drastically reduce,
if not wipe out, an entire eggplant plantation.
Through gene splicing, scientists were able to isolate
toxins from Bt, a naturally occurring soil bacterium. The
toxins were inserted in the gene of the eggplant variety
to make the fruit resistant to the fruit and shoot borer.
This is the same technology used by scientists in developing
the controversial Bt corn. The adoption of Bt corn, which
was released commercially in 2003 has effectively cut down
losses by farmers from infestation by the Asian corn borer.
Feed millers are also using Bt corn to produce feed for
According to Ebora, the same argument will be used to convince
the Supreme Court of the safety of the Bt technology and
the Bt eggplant project.
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