SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
10 October 2020 06:42:14 PM
Lawmakers and biotechnology experts on Thursday highlighted the benefits of animal biotechnology in improving the health and welfare of animals especially amid the global fight against various diseases such as African Swine Fever and Avian Flu, among others, as well as the endeavor to raise food security amid the pandemic. The issue was discussed Thursday during the webinar on the “Global State of Animal Biotechnology and the Need for National Policy Support.” The discussion was organized by the House Committee on Science and Technology chaired by Bohol Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado, in coordination with the United States Embassy, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). The discussion aimed to provide an avenue of knowledge sharing and learning with the country’s policymakers and contribute to the improved understanding and acceptance of animal biotechnology in the country. Masbate Rep. Elisa Kho, chairperson of the Committee on Rural Development, expressed the belief that with the use of animal biotechnology, countries, including the Philippines, can overcome problems, such as the different diseases afflicting animals. Last year alone, more than 300 pigs were killed in the country because of the African Swine Fever, she said. “It’s a big blow to our marginalized sectors, especially our farmers, and our economy. I hope there will be a cure for ASF. I believe that with the use of animal biotechnology we can overcome all these hindrances and problems, especially in our country which is still developing,” she said. The country also dealt with the foot and mouth disease (FMD) and Avian flu, she added. For her the forum is very timely to apprise policy makers to establish enabling laws that will sustain human and animal health and welfare and alleviate poverty through biotechnology. This 18th Congress, Kho said House Bill 260 or the proposed “An Act Strengthening the National Policy on Access, and Benefit-Sharing From the Utilization of Philippine Genetic Resources” and HB 3372 “An Act Promoting Safe and Responsible Use of Modern Biotechnology, Establishing the Biotechnology Authority of the Philippines” already gained committee approval. Meanwhile, Dr. Claro Mingala, Chief of the Livestock Biotechnology Center-Philippine Carabao Center, discussed “Animal Biotechnologies in the Philippines: Potentials and Benefits.” He said among the benefits of animal biotechnology are 1) advances in human health, 2) improvement of animal health and welfare by using vaccines, medicines, among others to produce safer food for human consumption, 3) enhancement of animal products, and 4) environmental conservation and protection. As early as the 1970s, Mingala said the country projected biotechnology would play an important role in the country’s agricultural sustainability. The Philippines was the first ASEAN country that initiated the Biotechnology Regulatory System through Executive Order No. 430 issued in 1990, he said. Dr. Rhodora Aldemita, Director of ISAAA SEAsia Center, discussed the general overview of “Global Biotechnology Applications” while Dr. Simon Lilico, Research Fellow of the University of Edinburgh and Editor-in-Chief of Transgenic Research, expounded on the “Global State of Animal Biotechnology: Editing the Course of Livestock Development.” Dr. Martin Lema, Adjunct Professor and Director of Technology Transfer, University of Quilmes, talked about “Animal Biotech Regulations.” Also present in the forum were Reps. Ron Salo (Party-list, Kabayan) and Sergio Dagooc (Party-list, APEC).