SEARCA joins National Biotechnology Week 2022

  • 29 November 2022, Tuesday

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual delivers his remarks during the opening program of the 18th National Biotechnology Week at the Philippine Trade Training Center, Pasay City. DTI is the lead agency for this year's celebration with the theme Responding to the Challenges: Business Opportunities in Biotechnology.Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual delivers his remarks during the opening program of the 18th National Biotechnology Week at the Philippine Trade Training Center, Pasay City. DTI is the lead agency for this year's celebration with the theme Responding to the Challenges: Business Opportunities in Biotechnology.

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and in collaboration with other partner institutions have initiated several activities as part of the Philippines’ 18th National Biotechnology Week.

In his message for the NBW celebration, SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio said that it is an opportune time to explore and maximize business, trade, and investment opportunities that products of modern biotechnology offer us. He said that biotechnology remains a viable science-based option that has yielded impact not just on agricultural production but on the economy as well.

“SEARCA is very happy to be part of this initiative that does not only showcase advances in the field of biotechnology in the Philippines, but also provides a platform for us to learn from each other and work together toward our shared goal of accelerating societal transformation through innovation, especially in the agricultural sector”, Dr. Gregorio adds.

Together with the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, Inc., and other partners, SEARCA organized a Forum on Philippine Biotech Regulations. The policy forum became a platform for more than a hundred key stakeholders from the industry, policymakers, lawyers, local government units, and students to be up to date with the country’s recently updated biotech regulations.

 Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Assistant Scientist and National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines Secretariat Head Lorelie U. Agbagala presents salient points of the 2021 DOST-DA-DENR-DOH-DILG Joint Department Circular. The revised JDC addresses previous implementation challenges and takes into consideration Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Law which prescribes specific timeframes for all government transactions, including the issuance of biosafety permits. Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Assistant Scientist and National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines Secretariat Head Lorelie U. Agbagala presents salient points of the 2021 DOST-DA-DENR-DOH-DILG Joint Department Circular. The revised JDC addresses previous implementation challenges and takes into consideration Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Law which prescribes specific timeframes for all government transactions, including the issuance of biosafety permits.

DA Biotech Program Office Director Claro N. Mingala, National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines Secretariat Head Lorelie U. Agbagala, ISAAA, Inc. Executive Director Rhodora R. Aldemita, and SEARCA Project Coordinator Jerome Cayton C. Barradas hold copies of two policy briefs on the 2021 DOST-DA-DENR-DOH-DILG Joint Department Circular and on the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) Resolution No.1, Series of 2020. These were developed under the Know The Science Project of SEARCA and ISAAA, Inc. through the DA Biotech Program Office.DA Biotech Program Office Director Claro N. Mingala, National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines Secretariat Head Lorelie U. Agbagala, ISAAA, Inc. Executive Director Rhodora R. Aldemita, and SEARCA Project Coordinator Jerome Cayton C. Barradas hold copies of two policy briefs on the 2021 DOST-DA-DENR-DOH-DILG Joint Department Circular and on the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) Resolution No.1, Series of 2020. These were developed under the Know The Science Project of SEARCA and ISAAA, Inc. through the DA Biotech Program Office.

During the policy forum, the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) Secretariat’s Ma. Lorelie U. Agbagala and Julieta Fe Estacio presented the development of the country’s regulatory system as well as the salient points of the 2021 DOST-DA-DENR-DOH-DILG Joint Department Circular (2021 JDC) which sets out the rules and regulations for the research and development, handling and use of genetically modified plant and plant products derived from modern biotechnology. The revised JDC addresses previous implementation challenges and takes into consideration Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Law which prescribes specific timeframes for all government transactions, including the issuance of biosafety permits.

On the other hand, the Bureau of Plant Industry Biotech Office’s Geronima P. Eusebio presented the salient points of the DA Memorandum Circular no. 8, Series of 2022 which establishes rules and procedures on evaluating if Products of Plant Breeding Innovations (PBIs) contain novel combinations of genetic materials obtained through modern biotechnology and if it needs to be regulated under the 2021 JDC.

In his message during the forum, Dr. Gregorio said, “We welcome these initiatives that keep our regulatory framework up-to-date and responsive to the needs of our time. This is important especially as we move forward and face the challenges of a post-pandemic world”.

Two policy briefs developed under SEARCA and ISAAA, Inc.’s Know The Science Project were launched at the end of the policy forum.

SEARCA's booth during the National Biotechnology Week Exhibit featured impact stories of farmers in the business of planting Bt Corn. In addition, different IEC materials on crop and animal biotechnology were also distributed during the event.SEARCA's booth during the National Biotechnology Week Exhibit featured impact stories of farmers in the business of planting Bt Corn. In addition, different IEC materials on crop and animal biotechnology were also distributed during the event.

SEARCA also co-organized the Technical and Investors Forum led by the DA Biotechnology Program Office. This forum featured biotech tools used in banana and sugarcane industries as well as locally developed products and technologies for upscaling and adoption. Lastly, SEARCA also participated in a week-long exhibit highlighting impact stories of biotech corn farmers.

The five-day NBW formally concluded last November 25 with the official turn-over to the Department of Agriculture, the lead agency for the next year’s celebration.

Representatives of the National Biotechnology Week Inter-Agency Committee including SEARCA Project Coordinator II Jerome Cayton C. Barradas (rightmost) stand with Dr. Claro N. Mingala (fifth from the left) representing the Department of Agriculture, the lead agency for the next National Biotechnology Week celebration.Representatives of the National Biotechnology Week Inter-Agency Committee including SEARCA Project Coordinator II Jerome Cayton C. Barradas (rightmost) stand with Dr. Claro N. Mingala (fifth from the left) representing the Department of Agriculture, the lead agency for the next National Biotechnology Week celebration.