MANILA - The Philippines is now the twelfth biggest grower of genetically modified (GM) crops.
This was achieved in 2014 when 415,000 farmers planted Bt (Basillus thuringionsis) corn in 831,000 hectares, enabling the country to maintain its rank as among the world’s “biotech mega-countries” or nations that produce GM crops in 50,000 hectares or more, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Application (ISAAA).
ISAAA presented its latest annual report on the global status of commercialized biotech crops at the Philippine edition of its yearly media conference held on Feb. 27 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati City.
The forum was sponsored by ISAAA and the Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), which is based in Los Baños, Laguna.
Speakers and resource persons were SEARCA Director Gil Saguiguit Jr., Agriculture Assistant Secretary Paz Benavidez II, ISAAA board of trustees chair Dr. Paul Tang, National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) academician Dr. Eufemio Rasco Jr., ISAAA senior program officer Dr. Rhodora Aldemita, and Impasug-ong (Bukidnon) eggplant farmer Edgar Talasan.
In his report titled “The Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops 2014” presented by Aldemita, ISAAA founder Dr. Clivo James said that more than 181 million hectares of biotech crops were planted by 18 million farmers in 28 countries, 20 of them developing ones, including China, India, Brazil, and Argentina.
The lead biotech crops planted globally are soybean, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beat, papaya and alfalfa.
In the Philippines, Bt corn has steadily increased in its land area since it was commercially produced in 2003. And since 2011, Bt corn has helped enable the Philippines to become self-sufficient in this crop. The country has also exported corn silage to South Korea since 2013 owing to its good quality.
The United States, which devotes 73.1 million hectares to biotech crops in 2014, continued to lead the biotech mega-countries. US has been producing GM crops such as maize, soybean, cotton, canola, sugar beat, papaya, squash, tomato, sweet pepper, poplar, alfalfa and - only last year - eggplant.
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