The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Department of Agriculture (DA)-Biotechnology Program Office, and the Southeast Asian Information Center (SEARCA BIC) in coordination with the DA-Regional Field Office V and Central Bicol State University of Agriculture, recently held a public briefing on Biotechnology 101 and Joint Department Circular (JDC) at a hotel in Naga City

The activity aimed to enhance the understanding of stakeholders on Biotechnology as well as familiarize them with the new guidelines on biotech crops. Factual and science based information pertaining to the science, environmental and food safety of biotech products were also provided.
Close to 100 participants composed of scientist, academe, regulators, consumer groups, farmers, students, members and officials of government agencies, local government units of selected municipalities in Camarines Sur attended said forum.

According to Professor Josephine Cruz, Vice President for Research, Extension and Entrepreneurship of CBSUA, said forum will serve as a key to learn and discuss issues pertaining to biotechnology. “By providing holistic education, the participating public will be able to come up with a decision based on facts and evidences not just on hearsay” she said.

Topics discussed were: Biotechnology as a Science by Dr. Cristeta Cueto, OIC, Research Center Manager, Allbay Research Center, Philippine Coconut Authority; Current Research Trends & Biotech Products in the Pipeline; Crops, Livestock & Fisheries by Dr. Lourdes Taylo, University Researcher, Institute of Plant Breeding; Food & Environmental Safety Issues by Desiree M Hautea, Research Professor, Institute of Plant Breeding UPLB; The Philippine Regulatory system for GM crops: DOST-DA-DENR-DOH-DILG Joint Department Circular No. 1 series of 2016 were discussed by Julieta Estacio, Head Secretariat, National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines and DOST Biosafety Committee and Sheeb Kaiserin Quiaonza, Senior Agriculturist, Bureau of Plant Industry.

Other discussants during the open forum were: Engr. Mary Therese Gonzales, Engineer II, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Charles Anthony Vega, Local Government Operations Officer III, Bureau of Local Government Supervision, Department of Interior & Local Government. Fr. Emmanuel Alparce, IEC Technical Committee Chair, DA-Biotechnology Program Office served as moderator.
In her message, Dr. Marygrace Rodriguez, DA, OIC Operation Division said that the DA supports innovations pertaining to food sufficiency. The introduction of Genetically Modified (GM) products and the assurance of its safety for humans and environment will sustain the demand for food production she said. “Our population increases exponentially, our food increased geometrically” she added. (B. Nunez)