• Solon seeks probe on PH genetically modified crops

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    A lady lawmaker asked the House Committee on Agriculture and Food to look into biosafety of genetically modified crops in the country.

    In House Resolution 399, Rep. Sharon S. Garin (Party-list, AAMBIS-OWA) also sought inquiry on advantages and disadvantages of commercializing genetically modified crops.

    She said research into application of biotechnology on crop production started in the 1980s.

    Under the resolution, biotechnology refers to any process that uses living organisms to make or modify products or to improve and develop plants, animals or microorganisms for a specific use.

    Garin said several executive orders have been enacted and policy statement and administrative orders have been issued for promoting safe and responsible use of modern biotechnology which has the potential to contribute to agricultural productivity and food security.

    “Executive Order No. 430 was enacted in 1990 for creation of the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) with the task to regulate genetic engineering research and development activities and their products,” she said.

    She said former president and now-Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued a policy statement on modern biotechnology in 2001 and again issued Executive Order No. 514 in 2006 to establish the National Biosafety Framework and prescribe guidelines for its implementation and reorganization of NCBP.

    Garin further said in 2002, Department of Agriculture issued Administrative Order 8 Series of 2002 as implementing guidelines for importation and release into the environment of plants and plant products derived from the use of modern biotechnology.

    “With regards to the importation and release of genetically modified plants, AO 8 mandates Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to regulate conduct of risk assessment for the purpose of the eventual commercialization of genetically-modified crops,” she said.

    She said at present, NCBP and BPI-regulated experimentations and field testing are being conducted by State institutions like University of the Philippines-Los Baños, University of the Philippines-Mindanao and Visayas State University among others, as well as private research and development institutions.

    Garin said non-government, environmental organizations and some LGUs continue opposing both field testing by State universities and private research and development institutions and eventual commercialization of genetically modified crops, citing biosafety.

    She said the Philippines ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety of 2000.

    Being a signatory to the Protocol, she said the Philippines committed itself to ensuring development, handling, transport, use, transfer and release of genetically modified organisms are undertaken in a manner that prevents or reduces risks to biological diversity and human health.

    Garin said it is imperative for the House Committee on Agriculture and Food to conduct an investigation so NCBP, BPI and other government agencies concerned can provide factual assessment of Philippine biotechnology regulation’s potency.

    “These agencies should also disclose pertinent information and findings of experimentations, field testing and research conducted to provide credible and scientific ground for introduction of genetically modified crops to the environment and its consumption,” she added. PNA

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