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PIA Press Release
2005/01/27

Biotech experts lauds RP performance

Davao City (27 January) -- The Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines (BCP) lauded the performance of the Philippines in producing agricultural biotech products.

Dr. Benigno Peczon, president and chief executive officer of the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines during yesterday's Ugnayan sa Royal Mandaya said he was visibly elated over a recent report which said that the country now ranks 14th in the list of mega-countries producing biotech products in agriculture.

Dr. Peczon bared that the 2004 report released by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), showed that the Philippines has devoted more than 50,000 hectares for biotech products.

Also in the same forum , Director Alice Ilaga of the Department of Agriculture-Biotech Program Implementing Unit (DA-BPIU) stressed that the report is a confirmation of the increasing trend for Filipino farmers to repose their trust in biotechnological advances in agriculture.

Peczon and Ilaga noted that in spite of the early doubts placed on the viability and propriety of using biotechnology products, farmers eventually believed in scientific tests and concluded that they would earn more by producing crops like Bt corn and Bt cotton.

They said that by overcoming their worst fears, Filipino farmers eventually relied on the results of field tests, which showed that Bt corn had higher resistance to the Asiatic corn borer, the single biggest reason why the carcinogen aflatoxin saddles local corn varieties.

Moreover, farmers found out that Bt corn had higher yields and are more nutritious than traditional varieties, thus ensuring them better incomes and larger markets.

Peczon and Ilaga said they have been heartened by additional reports about religious leaders advocating the use of biotechnology products, thus paving the way for their utilization by farmers of various religious persuasions.

Apart from these, the two biotechnology experts argued, paraphrasing Victor Hugo, that one can not defeat an idea whose time has come.

The two said that since 2003, when Bt corn was approved for field testing in South Cotabato, inquiries have risen about their availability and applicability to Philippine agricultural conditions and more and more farmers are now being won over to the side of biotechnology.

They added that the shift to agricultural biotechnological products is a great boost to the country's campaign to ensure long-term food security and a reduction of costly importations of food products that could be grown in the Philippines.

Another factor that has boosted the use of biotechnology products in the country is their minimal use of costly, imported pesticides. (BCP Inc.) [top]

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