Last year the Supreme Court in the Philippines struck down a 2002 regulation and temporarily stopped the government from accepting applications for field testing, propagating, and importing GMOs until new rules are in place. This has gravely concerned the scientific community, who fear that it may have negative effects on food security and research development in agriculture.
In a statement, the National Academy of Science and Technology Philippines (NAST-PHL) said all the supporters of biotech crops —including the University of the Philippines at Los Baños (UPLB), Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB), the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca), ISAAA and the corn industry—are concerned about the verdict since it conceivably covered not only GM crops but other products as well.
The Supreme Court ordered the government to prepare an immediate plan of action to rehabilitate field trial sites and protect, preserve, and conserve the environment, and recommend policies and measures to reform the present regulatory process.
The activity that SC permanently stopped was the field testing of Bt eggplant in plots measuring 920 sq.m. each in five different places in the Philippines.
The field tests were part of a research project started in 2007 as an option for controlling the fruit and stem borer (FSB), the most destructive insect pest of the eggplant.
“The genetically engineered Bt talong would have provided an option for the farmers to control the FSB infestation of eggplant by incorporating the gene from naturally-occurring soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), that produces the toxin specific for the group of insects to which the FSB belongs,” NAST-PHL said.