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UP students slam SC on Bt talong

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Agricultural biotechnology students of the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna (UPLB) joined the science and agricultural communities yesterday in criticizing the recent Supreme Court (SC) ruling that banned the field testing of genetically modified (GM) eggplants.

The UP League of Agricultural Biotechnology Students (UP LABS) said the SC ruling did not only ban the field testing of Bacillus thuringiensis (bt) talong but also revoked the existing guidelines on the biosafety of GM crops in the country. 

In its ruling released last month, the high tribunal stopped the field testing of the eggplant variant developed to resist pests. 

It also struck down an administrative order of the Department of Agriculture (DA) that gives additional mandate to the Bureau of Plant Industry to issue permits to promote the safe and responsible use of biotechnology. 

“The expanded decision of the SC will bring major setbacks against the stakeholders and industry in the agriculture sector,” the organization said. 

The group said the nullification of the DA order and halting of the application, commercialization and importation of GM crops could impede agricultural development in the country.

The students said the ruling would also hamper ongoing research on other modern biotechnology projects, such as golden rice, virus-resistant and delayed ripening papaya and bt cotton. 

“This may cause the delay and loss of thesis and research grants for our fellow students, interns, researchers and scientists,” said UP LABS. 

“With lesser opportunities to hone their expertise in the Philippines, the graduates may seek greener pastures in other countries… The youth might be discouraged to pursue a degree in specialized sciences because of the lack of institutional support, appreciation and incentives,” the group added. 

Safe for consumption

UP LABS said bt talong is safe for consumption, contrary to those who sought the ban on its testing.

The group said the eggplant variant was also developed in India and Bangladesh. Bangladesh has allowed its consumption since 2014. 

“Upon its market release, no incidence of harmful effects to the environment and humans were reported,” the group said.

“Now, Bangladeshis benefit from the 70-90 percentage reduction in insecticide use, consequently increasing the net income of their farmers – the true purpose of developing Bt crops,” it added. 

 

ACIRC

ATILDE

BANGLADESHIS

BUREAU OF PLANT INDUSTRY

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

INDIA AND BANGLADESH

LEAGUE OF AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY STUDENTS

LOS BA

NBSP

SUPREME COURT

UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES

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