The Department of Agriculture (DA) has kicked off the annual National Biotechnology Week celebration by a series of seminars on agricultural biotechnology products in Negros Occidental, presentation of the natural ingredients study by the Chamber of Herbal Industries of the Philippines, Inc. (CHIPI) and three symposia on biotechnology for teachers that started in Ilocos Norte,
Taking the lead in the annual celebration is the Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Program Office (DA-BPO), which has been collaborating with the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines (BCP), BIONet Pilipinas and the Biotechnology for Life Media and Advocacy Resource Center (BMARC) for several years.
Last June 2, a seminar organized by the BCP on the benefits of biotechnology was held in Negros Occidental in the context of Provincial Ordinance No.. 007, Series of 2007, which bans genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Dr. Saturnina Halos, top biotechnology adviser of the DA, expounded on the values of GMOs, particularly on genetically modified feed corn that is being produced in about 400,000 hectares by 100,000 small Filipino farmers.
She noted the ban militates against the interest of Filipinos who cultivate GMOs even as the country has been consuming imported food products from GMOs from the US, Argentina, Brazil and Canada..
"It is against the constitutional rights of equal protection under the law of small feed millers and livestock growers in the province whose livelihood is threatened by the ban. Furthermore, a ban on GMOs is in conflict with the national policy on the safe and responsible use of modern biotechnology and their products as enunciated in a policy statement issued by President Arroyo in 2001 and a violation of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), which mandates the use of modern biotechnology as a tool for agriculture and fisheries modernization," she counseled.
On June 27, the results of the Natural Ingredients Study by the Chamber of Herbal Industries of the Philippines, Inc. (CHIPI) and Hybridigm were also formally announced.
CHIPI is the national organization of companies engaged in the research, development, farming, manufacturing, marketing and distribution of natural, herbal and alternative products for personal care, medical use and food supplementation.
Hybridigm is a consulting firm that was tapped by the DA-BPO to construct a relevant, objective and comprehensive report on natural ingredients.
The following month, the following were held:
Training on DNA Fingerprinting and its Application in Seed Purity of Hybrid Rice Varieties (organized by PhilRice)
· Regional Biotechnology Seminar for Teachers held in Batac, Ilocos Norte (organized by the NIMBB-UPD and SUCs on the theme "Instituting a General Education Biotechnology Course in Philippine State Universities and Colleges) (biolife news service)