Agriculture - - Campus Leaders -

SEEK­ING TO FORM a na­tional stu­dent al­liance for agri-biotech, stu­dent lead­ers from agri­cul­tural-based col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties across the Philip­pines re­cently gath­ered in the coun­try’s first stu­dent-led Na­tional Biotech Sum­mit held in UP Los Baños to high­light the po­ten­tial of biotech­nol­ogy in im­prov­ing the lo­cal agri­cul­ture sec­tor. Ac­cord­ing to Na­tional Biotech Sum­mit Co-Head Matthew Ty, the four-day sum­mit ini­ti­ated by the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines League of Agri­cul­tural Biotech­nol­ogy (UP-LABS) pro­vided stu­dent-del­e­gates with a plat­form for fa­cil­i­tat­ing a com­pre­hen­sive di­a­logue on the crit­i­cal role of agri­cul­tural biotech­nol­ogy in feed­ing the coun­try’s grow­ing pop­u­la­tion. It also sought to equip them with com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills nec­es­sary to be­come en­gaged biotech­nol­ogy am­bas­sadors in their com­mu­ni­ties.

“It’s more of teach­ing the youth on how to com­mu­ni­cate biotech­nol­ogy to their fam­ily, friends, farm­ers, lit­tle chil­dren in a way they would un­der­stand and not mis­un­der­stood the con­cept of biotech­nol­ogy,” said Ty. There were also short com­mu­ni­ca­tion work­shops con­ducted to train stu­dents on how to ef­fec­tively ad­dress biotech­nol­ogy is­sues and con­cerns at com­mu­nity level.

The Sum­mit in­cluded sev­eral lec­tures given by speak­ers from prom­i­nent or­ga­ni­za­tions of dif­fer­ent fields, in­clud­ing sci­en­tists, univer­sity pro­fes­sors, and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials. Speak­ers tack­led the cur­rent land­scape of the lo­cal agri­cul­ture biotech­nol­ogy, the mis­in­for­ma­tion on ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied or­gan­isms (GMOs), as well as emerg­ing trends and biotech­nolo­gies that im­prove lo­cal food pro­duc­tion.

Mean­while, UP LAB’s pres­i­dent Ja­cov Abe­lido hopes to pur­sue the ini­tial for­ma­tion of a na­tional stu­dent al­liance on agri­cul­ture biotech­nol­ogy as the next step af­ter the Sum­mit. The al­liance, which will be aimed at in­volv­ing more col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties from dif­fer­ent agri­cul­tural ar­eas in the coun­try, will be tasked to form a shared vi­sion in biotech­nol­ogy and build a stronger stu­dent voice speak­ing about the rel­e­vance of agri­cul­ture biotech­nol­ogy.

“UP LABS and its part­ners be­lieve that be­yond class­rooms and lab­o­ra­to­ries, we should be ready to con­trib­ute [to­wards] meet­ing real-life is­sues. We’re look­ing for­ward to repli­cat­ing the Sum­mit and its prof­itable re­sults next year, gath­er­ing more stu­dent par­tic­i­pants and in­dus­try lead­ers who will lead the way to agri­cul­tural in­no­va­tion,” Abe­lido said.

The Sum­mit gath­ered stu­dent lead­ers from agri­cul­tural-based col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties across the coun­try: Emilio Aguinaldo Col­lege, Xavier Univer­sity, Rizal Tech­no­log­i­cal Univer­sity, Cen­tral Lu­zon State Univer­sity, Cavite State Univer­sity, Visayas State Univer­sity, and the Cen­tral Min­danao Univer­sity.

As a part­ner for the event, Mon­santo Philip­pines cor­po­rate en­gage­ment lead Cha­rina Gar­rido Ocampo said to­day’s youth play an im­por­tant role in com­ing up with new ideas for ad­dress­ing real-world is­sues such as food se­cu­rity. “Mon­sato Philip­pines be­lieves in the vi­sion of this stu­dent-led sum­mit, which seeks to en­gage the youth in thought-pro­vok­ing con­ver­sa­tions that ad­dress the chal­lenge of at­tain­ing food se­cu­rity. It’s en­cour­ag­ing to know that this di­a­logue has in­spired cam­pus lead­ers to be­come movers and shak­ers in har­ness­ing tech­nol­ogy to feed the world.”

Stu­dent leader par­tic­i­pants from the six agri­cul­tural-based col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties at the Sum­mit.

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