Dr. William G. Padolina, president and academician of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) talked about some issues and concerns regarding BT/GMO products during the opening of the 10th National Biotechnology week on November 21, 2014 at La Breza, Mother Ignacia, Quezon City.

He said that it is the clear understanding of what biotechnology is, that is very important on the issues about it. Listening to Padolina, I am sharing what I have understood from him in a language, I think is understandable to a reader.

Some are opposed to the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in the food they consume, but not opposed to the medicine, vaccines and injections directly pricked to the muscles / veins and directly goes to the system.

Very long time ago we have been consuming food and using medicines with GMO. The insulin injected to a type of diabetic patient is a GMO product. Some food products that we consume like soybeans and processed products from them are GMO.

We do not grow soybeans in the country, the soy beans we are using are imported and 70% of the imported soy beans are GMO. We eat taho, tofu (soybean curd) soy sauce (toyo) and other processed soy bean products. We find them delicious and nutritious as well.

We have the Bt corn, a successful GMO crop in the Philippines. For more than a decade, BT corn has been commercially planted and cosumed as feed and food in the country. The corn farmers most especially in Cagayan Valley are earning pretty good planting the crop since then.

They have good harvests, that provide them good income because the corn borers, traditionally infesting their farms do not bother them anymore due to the built in insecticide against corn borers that the Bt corn seeds possess that kills them.

Presently 700,000 hectares of land are planted to BT corn.

We also have the BT eggplant in its field trial stage, but sad to say was stopped due to the temporary restraining order (TRO) Green Peace filed against it.

Eggplant farmers spend a lot for pesticides and labor in their farm due to the fruit and shoot borers (FSB) that attack the plants. They spray pesticides on their eggplants more frequently than what normal conditions require to kill the TBS.

This practice, aside from being very expensive (chemical wise and labor wise) is hazardous to the health of the farmers directly doing the job and to the health of the consumers.

The more pesticides sprayed the more harmful it becomes to the health of the farmers, and to the buying public who consume them, and to the other insects useful to farm, farmers, and to the environment as a whole.

I hope the Supreme Court will lift the TRO to complete the field trials, to provide for a safer consumption of the crop that is a popular and affordable vegetable for the Filipinos.

We also have the Golden rice, a rice with golden grain due to the beta carotene it contains a pre-cursor to Vitamin A, a substance necessary to produce Vitamin A when consumed.

Dr. Padolina said that we can only get Vitamin A from animals not from plants.

While golden rice has successfully obtained the required beta carotene contents of the grain, however as to grain production per hectare is still in the field trials.

There are still many factors to consider to merit a commercialization status, thus it will take time before we see them in the market but for sure it is going there. (PSciJourn MegaManila)