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‘Untapped potential exists for animal biotechnology’

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Published on November 8, 2020 | Business Mirror 

A more progressive regulation on animal biotechnology may hold the potential to contribute to food security and a more sustainable agriculture, according to an Argentinian expert in regulation and policymaking for biotechnology.

“If the Philippines has the opportunity to revise regulations on animal biotechnology, it can provide the capacity to assess if these technologies may be used for food production in the country and contribute to food security and a more sustainable agriculture,” Dr. Martin Lema  of the University of Quilmes in Argentina said.

Lema spoke at the recent Searca Online Learning and Virtual Engagement (SOLVE) webinar of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca).

He provided a broad perspective on regulatory frameworks applied to the genetic improvement of animals using innovative breeding tools like marker-assisted breeding, cloning, transgenesis and genome editing.

He also emphasized the need for a sound regulatory framework on animal biotech.

Event Poster from SEARCA:

The SOLVE webinar was jointly organized by Searca in collaboration with the United States Embassy Manila and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) to provide unbiased science-based information.

US Embassy Manila Chargé  d’affaires John Law  affirmed the shared commitment of the United States and the Philippines to a science-based approach to agriculture.

Both countries, together with a diverse group of nations, strongly support safe technologies by co-sponsoring an international statement on precision biotechnology at the World Trade Organization.

“The Philippines is continuing to demonstrate its commitment and leadership in the global stage in providing farmers the tools they need to address the array of challenges we face in producing safe, sustainable, and abundant food, feed, and energy,” Law said.

He added that the 10-year Science and Technology Agreement between US and the Philippines “celebrates the strong cooperation between US and Philippine research institutions and expands our joint activities in agricultural, environmental, and health sciences.”

Besides Lema, experts from the United Kingdom and the Philippines shared their expertise on global and local animal biotech applications as well as the regulations and challenges in the field.

Dr. Simon Lilico  of the University of Edinburgh presented the global state of animal biotechnology and introduced current initiatives being done and technologies being explored in other countries.

Dr. Claro Mingala  of the Philippine Carabao Center gave updates on initiatives being done locally.

He said that since the use of genetically modified organisms in the Philippines is still confined to biotech crops, the benefits from animal biotechnologies in the country are in the developed rapid animal disease test kits, reproductive biotechnologies, and product development.

Mingala also cited potential benefits of animal biotechnologies for Filipino farmers in conjunction with proper animal management, such as increased income of livestock food producers, doubled food production to meet the supply in demand, creation of climate change and disease resilient or resistant animal and development of rapid diagnostics and modern animal disease surveillance.

He said the Philippines is not far behind in terms of animal biotechnology applications.

Mingala pointed out that “biotech has a lot of potential in increasing our livestock production, but it is only one of the options.”

He added that “biotech does not take your freedom of choice. We agree what biotechnology offers to farming communities—to sustain supply of food and food security. As scientists, we are here to help achieve a food secure community.”

The experts also addressed the participants’ questions on animal welfare, food security and safety, benefits of animal biotech, future of animal biotech research in the Philippines, and regulatory policies.

Since 2000, Searca has been a partner of ISAAA in responding to information needs and promoting and advancing a broader public understanding of crop biotechnology.

The webinar on the “Unrealized Potential of Animal Biotechnology” is an effort in monitoring the local agri-biotech environment and within Searca’s priority focus on food and nutrition security under its current five-year strategic plan (2020-2025), which is intent on Accelerating Transformation Through Agricultural Innovation.



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