Los Baños, Laguna: Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos vowed to give priority to food security and develop biofuel sources when he visited the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology or Biotech located inside the University of the Philippines campus here.
“No one in this century can feed themselves without science. Sadly, we are lacking of understanding. This is not an obscure study. The BioTech is the best place to bring back the consciousness to those which directly affect the lives of the Filipinos,” the senator told the scientists, researchers, and employees of the 36-year-old agency.
“Thank you for keeping my father’s dream of food security,” he added.
Biotech head Rosario Monsalud said the agency was established when the Philippines was battling energy crisis and emerging interest in genetic engineering.
“Then UPLB chancellor Emil Javier and Energy Minister Geronimo Velasco formed BioTech together with several scientists supported by then President Ferdinand Marcos. It was formed in 1979 and funded by the Ferdinand E. Marcos Foundation,” Monsalud said.
On Sept. 11, 1982, Marcos and First Lady Imelda inaugurated the building.
BioTech only has P2 million yearly budget, not enough to produce research outputs.
Marcos said the Philippines, through BioTech, was ahead by five years in Asia in terms of biofuel study.
“But now we are behind by several years already,” he said.
Monsalud said Thai and Vietnamese scientists learned molecular biology from them but the two countries are now more advanced in research and have more scientists.
Biotech uses microbes like bacteria, fungi, algae and protozoa to create new products like food, fuel, feeds, and fertilizer, among others.
So far, it has produced 12 biofertilizer products like nitrogen fixers, phosphate solubilizers, growth hormone producers, decomposers, and compost.
Other well-known products are Pili pulp oil, biofertilizers, biocontrol agents, and dietary fiber from crop residues, including probiotic products.
Monsalud said farmers buy biofertilizers from them.
“Just last month Ms. Irene Araneta was here and she bought fertilizers which she said she will use in her farm,” she said referring to the youngest of the three Marcos siblings.
Marcos said research and development should be given priority. He cited the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) based in ULPB which was able to produce the so-called “Miracle Rice” that made the Philippines “self-sufficient and was even able to export.”