SEARCA, ISAAA spearheads 1st public dialogue on BT eggplant in Pangasinan

  • 8 September 2014, Monday

Source: DWDD
3 Sep 2014

Sta. Maria, Pangasinan (DWDD) – The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) spearheaded Wednesday the holding of a public dialogue on the development of Bt eggplant and its benefits at the Pangasinan State University campus in Sta. Maria, this province.

Dr. Randy Hautea, global coordinator and ISAAA director, said the whole-day public dialogue would serve as a venue for objective discussion and sharing of knowledge on the development and science behind Bt eggplant, food safety concerns surrounding its development and its potential socio-economic impact.

He said that a panel of experts have been lined up to share their insights on the said concerns.

The public dialogue is being attended by farmers and local officials from the towns of San Jacinto, Asingan, Rosales, San Manuel and Sta. Maria as well as representatives from the academe and other stakeholders.

According to Hautea, Pangasinan was chosen to be the venue of the first ever public dialogue on Bt eggplant in the country because the province is the largest eggplant-producing area in the country.

Meanwhile, the town of Sta. Maria was specifically chosen because of its historical ties with Bt eggplant.

Bt eggplant was developed through biotechnology to combat the fruit and shoot borer (FSB) which is considered the bane among eggplant farmers.

The FSB-resistant eggplant, the other name for Bt eggplant, contains a protein that, when eaten by the destructive insect, causes it to lose appetite and eventually die.

While Bt eggplant proponents have continuously stressed that this protein is only lethal to FSB and does not affect humans, farm animal or other insects, critics of the project have opposed its development and distribution due to safety and ethical concerns among others.

The FSBR project is being undertaken in the Philippines through the SEARCA, the Department of Agriculture, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II, Institute of Plant Breeding of UP Los Baños, Indian Mahrashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Limited, Cornell University and USAID.