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
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
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
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
“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 www.bic.searca.org
or e-mail bic_at_agri.searca.org.
A. Panopio and Sophia
and Answers: Development of Fruit and Shoot Borer Resistant
Eggplant in the Philippines
about Bt eggplant in the Philippines
Information Resource No. 1: FSBR / Bt Eggplant: A safer
and more profitable biotech innovation