"The greatest resource of a nation is its people. We consider our farmers as our jewels in Leyte."
This was asserted by Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla of Leyte as he welcomed more than 150 farmers and officials of selected municipalities in Leyte to the Biotech 101 and Joint Department Circular (JDC) Public Briefing held in Tacloban City on 26 October 2018.
The activity was organized by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Program Office, and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) Biotechnology Information Center in coordination with the DA Regional Field Office 8.
Governor Petilla said the activity's objectives were aligned with the local government's thrust to improve the province's economy through agriculture.
"Science is good if we use it wisely for the benefit of the people," he said.
Experts from the University of the Philippines Los Baños- Institute of Plant Breeding (UPLB-IPB), Philippine Genome Center (PGC), and Visayas State University (VSU) apprised the participants on the science of biotechnology, food and environmental safety of genetically modified (GM) crops, and biotech products in the pipeline.
Representatives from the Departments of Health, Agriculture, Science and Technology, and Interior and Local Government were also on hand to discuss the JDC guidelines and address questions from the audience.
Among the concerns raised during the open forum was the rigid biotech regulatory process in the country, which the experts explained was crucial in ensuring the safety of GM crops released in the market.
The participants were also eager to promote the adaption GM crops in their province through a signature campaign. They have begun discussing the matter with the Department of Agriculture (DA) officials in the region.