SEARCA BIC Media Release
Local government constituents including municipal agriculturists and farmers from the province of Pangasinan, Philippines; students of Pangasinan State University (PSU), and other stakeholders signed a declaration of support for the commercial planting of the pest resistant Bt eggplant after a Public Dialogue held about said biotech crop at PSU-Sta. Maria Campus on September 3, 2014.
The declaration stated that after discussion with the scientists, experts, and farmer resource persons in the dialogue, the stakeholders realize that Bt eggplant, which is being developed by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), “is a healthier and safer alternative solution against the relentless insect pest – the eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB).” It stated that Bt eggplant “can bring benefits to their respective farming communities such as higher yield and income, reduced chemical pesticide use, and improved environmental health.” They also recognize that its multi-location field trials, which concluded in 2012, have been conducted safely and in full compliance with the prescribed government regulatory procedures, and duly approved by the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI). Moreover, they also acknowledge the safety of products of modern biotechnology that have passed food safety assessment based on international standards.
Pangasinan is one of the top eggplant-producing provinces in the country. Its farmers, however, is burdened by the high EFSB infestation; they have thus resorted to frequent use of harmful chemical insecticides and other cumbersome control methods.
The Public Dialogue was co-organized by ISAAA, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture-Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA BIC), the Municipality of Sta. Maria, and PSU-Sta. Maria Campus. Resource persons who answered issues and questions about its safety and potential benefits posed by the stakeholders were UPLB Bt eggplant project leader Dr. Desiree Hautea, study leader Dr. Lourdes Taylo, UP Diliman professor Dr. Ernelea Cao, economist Dr. Sergio Francisco, and DA-BPI Biotech Core Team vice chair Ms. Merle Palacpac. Farmer-leader Ms. Rosalie Ellasus also shared her successful experience in planting biotech corn; she expressed that as a farmer, she is also eagerly awaiting the release of Bt eggplant seeds.
Photo credit: ISAAA