February 15, 2016


New Philippine biotech rules out this week, says agriculture chief


The Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) said the new rules governing products derived from the use of modern biotechnology are expected to be issued this week.


Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said last week, "This (joint administrative order) will be released hopefully next (this) week", adding the draft was almost finished.


Alcala said a series of consultations had been conducted in the Philippines' main islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao before drafting the joint department circular of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Health, and DA.


The public consultations involved the stakeholders led by the farmers, scientists, biotechnology companies, the poultry and livestock industries, and nongovernment organisations, Alcala added.


The Supreme Court ruled in late December 2015 declaring Administrative Order No.8, which contains the rules for the importation and release into the environment of plants and plant products derived from the use of modern biotechnology, null and void.


The high court's decision to temporarily ban the "contained use, field testing, propagation and commercialisation, and importation" of GMO (genetically modified organism) came alongside a ruling to permanently halt the development of GM eggplant following a case filed by several groups led by the Philippine unit of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.


The SC directed lead agencies including DA, DOST and DENR to draft a new set of implementing rules and regulations and guidelines that would govern the country’s use and importation of biotechnology in local farms.


Moreover, the joint biotech guidelines would ensure that local feed millers could get ample supply of raw materials such as soybean meal and corn for the poultry and livestock sectors.


According to Alcala, the multi-sectoral task force formed to draw the guidelines for the safe use of biotechnology in Philippine agriculture targeted Feb. 23 as the deadline for signing so as not to further disrupt the local production and supply.

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