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Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Business -

In a pub­lic brief­ing and Biotech­nol­ogy 101 to stake­hold­ers in North­ern Min­danao, Merle Palac­pac, chief agri­cul­tur­ist, Of­fice of the Un­der­sec­re­tary for Pol­icy, Plan­ning and Reg­u­la­tions of De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture shares that the Joint De­part­ment Cir­cu­lar (JDC) No. 1 se­ries of 2016 of the De­part­ment of Science and Tech­nol­ogy (DOST), De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture (DA), De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DENR), De­part­ment of Health (DOH), and De­part­ment of In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment (DILG) as­sures gov­ern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity on biosafety in the coun­try.

The JDC oth­er­wise known as the Rules and Reg­u­la­tions for the Re­search and De­vel­op­ment, Han­dling and Use, Trans­bound­ary Move­ment, Re­lease into the En­vi­ron­ment and Man­age­ment of Ge­net­i­cally-Mod­i­fied (GM) Plant and Plant Prod­ucts De­rived from the Use of Mod­ern Biotech­nol­ogy was in full ef­fect since 15 April 2016.

Dr. Saturn­ina Ha­los, chair of Biotech­nol­ogy Ad­vi­sory Team of DA ex­plained that there are many con­cerns of biotech crops such as its im­pact on bio­di­ver­sity due to in­va­sive­ness, im­pact on wild rel­a­tives and im­pact on non­tar­get or­gan­isms. She said that this is why there is reg­u­la­tion which re­quires stud­ies and mea­sures to pre­clude ad­verse im­pact of biotech crop to wild rel­a­tives and test­ing of the in­sec­ti­cide pro­duced by the plant on non-tar­get or­gan­isms.

She added that food safety is­sues are also as­sessed by reg­u­la­tory sys­tem us­ing the Codex al­i­men­ta­r­ius guidelines, a col­lec­tion of in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized stan­dards, codes of prac­tice, guidelines and other rec­om­men­da­tions re­lat­ing to foods, food pro­duc­tion and food safety.

Ha­los re­vealed that in terms of reg­u­la­tion, GM crops is reg­u­lated in many as­pects in­clud­ing to en­sure food and en­vi­ron­men­tal safety; so­cial, eth­i­cal and eco­nomic is­sues con­sid­ered.

Ge­net­i­cally Mod­i­fied Or­gan­isms (GMOs) are prod­ucts de­vel­oped through ge­netic en­gi­neer­ing. Sci­en­tists have de­vel­oped dif­fer­ent crops with en­hanced char­ac­ter­is­tics. Aside from plants that have built-in in­sect re­pel­lent, some plants have been de­vel­oped to re­sist weed killer ap­pli­ca­tions, fight dis­eases, with­stand in­tense heat from the sun, pro­duce nu­tri­tious oils, de­lay ripen­ing. Fur­ther, biotech crops un­dergo a long process of test­ing and evalu- ation be­fore they be­come avail­able in the mar­ket.

Among the GM crops planted all over the world in­clude soy­bean, corn, cot­ton, canola, su­gar beet, squash, potato, egg­plant and pa­paya among oth­ers.

In the Philip­pines, biotech (BT) yel­low corn is the only one yet avail­able in the mar­ket. This is used as an­i­mal feed and use as food and pro­cess­ing. Biotech Maize has been planted in the Philip­pines since 2003 of about 6.03 mil­lion hectares ac­cord­ing to In­ter­na­tional Ser­vice for the Ac­qui­si­tion of Agri-biotech Ap­pli­ca­tions (ISAAA).

In terms of global per­spec­tive, Dr. Lour­des D. Taylo, Univer­sity Re­searcher of Univer­sity of the Philip­pines Los Baños (UPLB) shares that the global pop­u­la­tion is in­creas­ing. There is hid­den hunger due to mal­nu­tri­tion, nu­tri­tional de­fi­ciency, vi­ta­min A de­fi­ciency and as a re­sult, 500,000 chil­dren go blind.

She said that many are still afraid of GMOs be­cause they think this is poi­son, has harm­ful ef­fects to hu­man, an­i­mals and en­vi­ron­ment, con­tam­i­na­tion and cause of cancer and other ab­nor­mal­i­ties.

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