The Bureau of Plant Industry of the Department of Agriculture participates in the 12th Meeting of the ASEAN Genetically Modified Food Testing Network (ASEAN GMF Net) to be held on 28-29 July 2015 in Brunei Darussalam. The network is an initiative implemented by ASEAN to advance the crucial aspects of regulating genetically modified organisms or GMOs.
The Philippines, through the DA Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the Biotech Program Office, has been actively participating in the annual meeting and related activities of the ASEAN GMF Net since its inception.
ASEAN GMF Net assists member states in developing capabilities to conduct scientific evaluations of agriculture-related GMOs. The network is a recognition of the importance ASEAN place on agricultural biotechnology as a tool to increase food productivity in a sustainable manner and the crucial role of having science-based regulations and risk assessment guidelines in evaluating its products.
The network promotes partnerships and cooperation for effective collaboration and linkages among competent national laboratories. It has been helping BPI enhance its capabilities in GMO detection and analysis through technical assistance in upgrading the Molecular Biology Laboratory for GMO Detection at the Post Entry Quarantine Station in Los Baños, Laguna as well as short-term trainings for laboratory personnel.
Ms. Ma. Lorelie Agbagala is set to participate in the meeting. “Networking with other national reference laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment will help us enhance our laboratory capacity towards greater effectiveness and efficiency”, she said.
Ms. Agbagala is the head of the Biotech Core Team Secretariat of BPI and the monitoring team for contained and field trials of GMOs. She also supervises the operation/activities of the Post-Entry Quarantine Station in Los Baños.
The annual meeting also provides the opportunity to be updated on the recent developments and best practices in GMO detection among ASEAN countries.
“Being the lead agency implementing the DA Administrative Order No. 8 (2002), BPI actively participates in the regional and international networks in GMO analysis as we need to continuously enhance our knowledge and skills as regulators for effective implementation of the regulations for modern biotechnology”, said Atty. Paz Benavidez II, Assistant Secretary for Regulations and concurrently the Officer-in-Charge of the Bureau of Plant Industry.
BPI has been implementing the science-based regulations for modern biotechnology embodied in the DA Administrative Order No. 8 for more than a decade now. The regulatory implementation experience of the Philippines has become a reference of several countries in Asia, Africa, South America, among others, in developing their respective regulatory systems.