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PIA Press Release

CBSUA to pilot FSB-resistant eggplant research and plantation

by LS Macatangay

Pili, Camarines Sur (25 May) -- Some 1,600 square meters of land has been apportioned by Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) here as pilot site for the propagation of biotech eggplant here.

Dr. Dulce Mostoles, CBSUA's research professor and one of the facilitators during a biotechnology workshop and study tour conducted here recently, gladly stated that "this is the university's response to our farmer's clamour for a better alternative to traditional control methods."

Farmers suffer a yield loss of more than 50 percent every crop season, excluding the health and environmental hazard that they are facing due to frequent spraying just to get rid of eggplant pest and disease problems, particularly the harmful and most destructive pests in the Philippines and other Asian countries - the fruit and shoot borer, commonly called FSB.

Every year, eggplant production suffers a detrimental setback in terms of crop harvest due to a wide-scale infestation caused by FSB.

Dr. Diseree M. Hautea, Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSP II) regional coordinator and product manager, has been working on developing a biotech eggplant which would solve the unending plight of farmers for an FSB-resistant eggplant.

"Eggplant yield losses from 51- 73 percent due to FSB have been reported in the country. We need to develop a biotech eggplant since conventional breeding method is difficult due to sexual incompatibility and we have no sources of resistance in commercial varieties."

FSB poses great danger to farmer's potential yields since its larvae or caterpillars feed on eggplant's leaves and tunnel inside shoots, causing the shoots to break or wilt. Once invaded by FSB, the maturing fruits will eventually become inedible and unfit for market, thus contributes to the production loss of the eggplant farmers.

As to the question if f BT eggplant is safe for human consumption, Hautea has assured the public that before the FSBR or Fruit and Shoot Borer-Resistant eggplant is approved for commercial use, scientists and regulators ensure that it passes through many tests and safety assessments.

"Currently, the biotech eggplant is not yet commercially available. It is still under the multi-location field trials. Various tests are continually being done to ensure safety and performance of the product."

Approved pilot sites include Pangasinan, UPLB Extension Farm in Laguna, Sta. Barbara in Iloilo, Visayas State University in Leyte, UP Mindanao in Davao City, Cotabato and the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) here in Camarines Sur.

Eggplants are widely grown in most parts of the country and considered as one of the leading vegetable crops in terms of area and volume of production. It is a good source of vitamins, fibers and minerals. (PIA CamSur) [top]

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