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  You are here: Home >> Media Release >> Bt eggplant collaborators reaffirm commitments; field trial in USM, Cotabato initiated

11-April-2012 SEARCA BIC Media Release
UPLB-FI Executive Director Dr. Cecilio Arboleda (left) and USM President Jesus Antonio Derije reaffirm their commitments to conduct the Bt eggplant field trial in USM. Behind them (right) are USM IBC Chair Dr. Emma Sales and UPLB Bt eggplant project leader Dr. Desiree Hautea.

The University of Southern Mindanao (USM), University of the Philippines Los Baños Foundation, Inc. (UPLB-FI), and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) once again teamed up for the local development of the fruit and shoot borer resistant Bt eggplant.

In an inaugural partners’ meeting last March 26, 2012 in USM, Kabacan, North Cotabato, the three institutions reaffirmed their commitments to collaborate for the project “Development and Commercialization of Philippine Fruit and Shoot Borer (FSB)-Resistant Eggplants Containing MAHYCO Bt Eggplant Event, EE-1: Multi-location Field Trials for Biosafety Assessment, Variety Accreditation and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) Registration.”

The reaffirmation of commitment was signed by Dr. Cecilio R. Arboleda, Executive Director of UPLB-FI, Dr. Jesus Antonio G. Derije, President of USM, and Dr. Randy A. Hautea, Global Coordinator of ISAAA. Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project (ABSP) II Director Dr. Frank Shotkoski and Bt eggplant Project Leader Dr. Desiree Hautea also witnessed the formal collaboration.

After the meeting, transgenic Bt eggplants, hybrids and open pollinated varieties, were transplanted in a quarter hectare fenced and isolated field inside the USM campus. The activity was overseen by Ms. Merle Palacpac, Co-chair of the Biotech Core Team of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Bureau of Plant Industry and Mr. Rakim Tantong, DA-Plant Quarantine Service Division Chief in Cotabato City.

The field trial of Bt eggplant in USM is another milestone in the public sector biotechnology research. It is the first field trial of a biotech crop to be conducted at the University of Southern Mindanao, a premiere State University and center of excellence in Mindanao.

Cotabato local government officials and executives were also present during the transplanting as part of the continuing education for LGU awareness of the Bt eggplant development in the country.

Ms. Merle Palacpac of the Bureau of Plant Industry (right) discusses the parameters and guidelines in conducting a field trial with IBC members of USM.

The DA regulators and Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) members of USM also met to discuss and review the biosafety permit conditions in conducting the field trial. These conditions include the 200 meter radius physical isolation of the trial site from other eggplant fields and the provision of pollen trap plants around the field trial. USM IBC Chair Dr. Emma Sales said that five rows of pollen trap plants were planted around the trial site.

USM President Derije reiterated that as part of the university’s mandate to conduct education, research, extension, and resource generation, USM will support biotechnology researches and conduct the multi-location field trial of Bt eggplant in the university campus in North Cotabato. He assured that USM together with the project proponent will continuously comply with the biosafety regulatory guidelines and conditions of the DA’s Administrative Order No. 8 which stipulates the rules and regulations for the release into the environment of plants and plant products derived from the use of modern biotechnology.

According to Dr. Sales, generation of facts is the main objective of the university in conducting scientific research on Bt eggplant. “The university does not need profit, it needs factual information,” she clarified.

She added that the purpose of the field trial is to determine if Bt eggplant is indeed resistant to the destructive fruit and shoot borer pest and how it would be beneficial to farmers and to the public. She said that is just proper to conduct this research so that people would see whether or not Bt eggplant would indeed be effective and beneficial.

Many Filipino farmers have already expressed their eagerness to plant the pest resistant Bt eggplant. Mr. Edwin Paraluman, a biotech corn farmer from General Santos City, said that he is excited to grow Bt eggplant because he knows how much the crop would help farmers. Speaking from experience, Paraluman said that eggplant is more profitable than corn. Paraluman estimated that profit from a hectare of eggplant farm is equivalent to two hectares of corn. “If profit has increased with Bt corn, what more would it be with Bt eggplant?” he said.

Paraluman also berated the heavy reliance of farmers to chemical pesticide spraying. He said that spraying is needed every three days in an eggplant farm just to keep pests in control. “Halos mamatay-matay na ako sa kaka-spray (ng insecticide),” (“I almost passed out because of frequent insecticide spraying”) he said on his experience with his eggplant farm.

“Borers will damage all eggplant fruits if farmers will not spray chemical insecticides,” said Paraluman. Bt eggplant technology, which was projected by studies to considerably reduce chemical insecticide inputs, will be a significant help and benefit to farmers, consumers, and the environment.

For more information about the development of Bt eggplant in the Philippines, visit or e-mail (Jenny A. Panopio and Sophia M. Mercado)

See also:

Questions and Answers: Development of Fruit and Shoot Borer Resistant Eggplant in the Philippines
News about Bt eggplant in the Philippines
Biotechnology Information Resource No. 1: FSBR / Bt Eggplant: A safer and more profitable biotech innovation

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Jenny A. Panopio
Special Project Coordinator and BIC Network Administrator
SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center
College 4031, Laguna, PHILIPPINES
Telephone no.: (+63-49) 536 2290 ext 406
Fax no.: (+63-49) 536 4105

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SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center
UPLB Campus 4031, Los Baños, Laguna, PHILIPPINES
Telephone +6349 536 2290 ext. 406 / 169 / 135
Fax +6349 536 4105

SEARCA BIC is one of the biotechnology information nodes of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications Global Knowledge Center (ISAAA KC) and hosted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA). It was officially established in 2000 to address the needs of the region for a highly credible, sound and factual biotechnology information center in the Southeast Asian region accessible to various stakeholders.

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