MANILA, Philippines – The passage of a biotechnology law in the country is needed as government targets to achieve self-sufficiency and long-term food security, an academic think tank said.
The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) is calling for a stronger policy to authorize planting and release of biotechnology crops in the country amid climate change and the increasing population.
SEARCA said lawmakers are supporting the filing of a legislation to support biotechnology crop farming.
Department of Agriculture-attached agency Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), likewise, said a strong law will be pertinent for the country's long term food security strategy in light of emerging new plant breeding techniques (NBTs) that have accelerated breeding of superior food crops.
Biotechnology crops, particularly Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn, have benefitted local farmers after planted area reached 812,000 hectares last year.
"Lawmakers said we should submit the bill. Food safety is what concerns them more. The Philippines now has more than 800,000 hectares of corn planted to herbicide tolerant corn. We started with only 50,000 hectares in 2002," BPI director Vivencio Mamaril said.
He said a more permanent legislation should be established to replace the Joint Department Circular (JDC) issued in early-2016 by five government agencies as sanction to the research, management and movement of biotechnology crops.