In the Philippines, GMO crops are regulated by several government agencies, and Bt eggplant, Bt corn, and Golden Rice are some of the approved GMO crops considered safe for human consumption and the environment, which passed a rigorous scientific assessment.
BY James Tababa
May 3, 2023 00:06 AM
- In the Philippines, GMO crops are regulated by several government agencies, and Bt eggplant, Bt corn, and Golden Rice are some of the approved GMO crops considered safe for human consumption and the environment, which passed a rigorous scientific assessment.
By JAMES TABABA
Genetically modified (GM) crops or genetically modified organisms (GMO) have been developed and grown since the 1990s. They are created through the process of genetic engineering, where the DNA of an organism is modified to produce desirable traits. GM crops are created to increase yield to increase food production, reduce the need to use pesticides and other harmful chemicals by creating insect pests and disease-resistant crops, and produce a highly nutritional crop to address nutritional deficiencies in certain populations.
The Philippines is one of the countries where genetically modified crops are being grown and used. However, GMO crops in the Philippines are regulated by the Department of Agriculture through the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) to ensure safety and prevent negative environmental impact. Evaluation of GMO crops is also supervised by several government agencies before approval for commercial purposes.
Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) is responsible for the evaluation, regulation, and approval of GMO crops for commercial propagation, release, and field trials. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) examines the environmental risk of GMO crops. The Department of Health-Bureau of Food and Drugs (DOH-BFAD) assesses the safety and nutritional value of GMO crops intended for human consumption. Lastly, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) conducts research and development activities related to GMO crops.
These government agencies collaborate to ensure the safety and potential benefits of GMO crops. They undertake comprehensive evaluations and assessments to ensure that any GMO crops introduced undergo thorough scrutiny regarding their potential impact on the environment, human health, and the agriculture sector.
GMO crops have been a controversial topic in the Philippines. Some groups say that they can help increase food security and boost the country’s agriculture sector, while others expressed concerns over potential environmental and health risks associated with their use. Despite the ongoing debate surrounding GMO crops, the Philippine government has approved some of the GMOs that are considered safe for human consumption and the environment. Here are three of them:
In 2022, The Bureau of Plant Industry of the Department of Agriculture in the Philippines granted a biosafety permit for the commercial cultivation of borer resistant Bt Eggplant to the University of the Philippines Los Baños. Bt eggplant contains a natural protein from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, making it resistant to the eggplant fruit and shoot borer. The Philippines becomes the second country, after Bangladesh, to allow the commercial propagation of borer resistant Bt eggplant.
Bt corn is a genetically modified variety of corn that has been engineered to be resistant to the Asiatic corn borer (Ostrinia furnacalis). The Asiatic corn borer is a major pest of corn in Asia, and it can cause significant yield losses if left untreated. Bt corn has been genetically engineered to produce a toxin from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis that is toxic to the pest, thus reducing the need for chemical pesticides.
In the Philippines, Bt corn has been commercially cultivated since 2003, and it is one of the major GM crops grown in the country. Bt corn has several potential benefits for farmers and the environment. By reducing the need for chemical pesticides, Bt corn reduces the environmental impact and health risks associated with pesticide exposure for farmers and consumers. Additionally, Bt corn can lead to higher yields and increased profitability for farmers, which can help to alleviate poverty and food insecurity in rural areas.
Golden Rice, now called Malusog Rice, is a genetically modified variety of rice that has been bioengineered to produce beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. It is called “golden” because the rice grains have a golden-yellow color due to the increased presence of beta-carotene, an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables responsible for the yellow and orange color. The development of Golden Rice was aimed at addressing vitamin A deficiency, which is a serious health problem in many developing countries, including the Philippines.
In the Philippines, the development and testing of Golden Rice have been ongoing since 2004. The project is a collaboration between the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and other research institutions. In 2022, DA-PhilRice led the pilot deployment of Golden Rice seeds in the Philippines. The rice is registered with the National Seed Industry Council as NSIC 2022 Rc682GR2E or Malusog 1.
Bt eggplant, Bt corn, and Golden Rice are some of the GMO crops that passed the comprehensive regulatory system for GMO crops that involves several government agencies and a rigorous scientific assessment. This ensures the safety of GMO crops for human health, and the environment.
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