Even biotech seeds not spared by counterfeiters
Rudy Fernandez (The Philippine Star) - July 5, 2018 - 12:00am

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna, Philippines — Biotechnology or genetically modified (GM) products are no longer safe from counterfeiting activities of unscrupulous companies and people.

A biotechnology company exposed the presence of counterfeit seeds in the market.

The seeds, according to a Monsanto Philippines representative in a recent press briefing, accounted for close to 10 percent of market share of biotech maize, as reported by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

At the 2018 “Media Conference on the Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops in 2017” held late June at the Acacia Hotel in Muntinlupa City, ISAAA reported that the total maize area in the country increased from 1.25 million hectares in 2016 to 1.38 million hectares in 2017, owing to favorable weather for growing maize.

However, it pointed out, biotech maize area and adoption rate decreased because, according to industry analysts, there was a proliferation of counterfeit maize seeds.

The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) under the Department of Agriculture (DA) also has publicized the seven companies engaged in counterfeit seed production. 

These seeds, according to ISAAA as revealed by Monsanto Philippines, “have not undergone the rigorous process for technology approval of the DA-BPI. Neither have they invested into technology development,” the ISAAA report at the Media Conference attested.

They also published the list of authorized biotech maize suppliers for farmers’ reference in seed procurement. 

Counterfeit seeds in the Philippines include the so-called “ukoy-ukoy,” where pilfered seeds from production areas are used to manufacture seeds to be sold at cheaper price.

This accounts for six percent of market share in Mindanao and two percent nationwide.

The “sige-sige” seeds, on the other hand, are second generation or the offspring of F1 (first generation) seeds which have reduced vigor and efficiency of the Bt maize technology.

The counterfeit seed, according to Monsanto and ISAAA, “dangerously cheats farmers into buying cheap seeds that do not perform as excellently as the original seeds.”

“Farmers still need to incur as much pesticides similar to non-biotech, making maize farming unreasonable, costly and unprofitable,” the report stressed.

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