The development of Bt talong, a technology that can increase productivity in areas affected by fruit and shoot borers (FSB) but without the health risks posed by chemical pesticides, is both “a desirable and an urgent imperative.”
This was the position made by the Philippine American Academy of Science & Engineering (PAASE) in light of the decision of the Supreme Court to prohibit the field testing of Bt talong.
PAASE is an organization of Philippine- and foreign-based scientists and engineers who support national inclusive growth and development through innovation in science and technology.
According to PAASE: “Bt talong, developed through biotechnology, unburdened by the problems of conventional breeding, harbors a natural protein governing host resistance and is specific to the FSB. Growing Bt talong is projected to reduce losses significantly and increase agricultural productivity in hard-hit areas. Average potential incomes of P124,000-P130,000 (Quicoy, 2014) and P133,000 – P272,000/ha (Francisco, 2014) for eggplant farmers are expected.”
Furthermore, several studies, including those conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization, have shown that “the consumption of genetically modified farm products which produce Bt toxins is safe and unlikely to pose health hazards to humans and non-target animals.”
Bangladesh has been providing Bt talong seeds to its farmers since 2013 while in India, the technology has passed biosafety standards and is due for commercial approval.
The Philippines was the first country in Asia to approve the commercial cultivation of GMO corn in 2002. Today around 70 percent of the corn planted in the Philippines is genetically modified. In addition, the Philippines has been importing GMO crops such as soybeans and cotton for more than a decade.
PAASE urged government leaders, farmers, academics, scientists, engineers, businessmen, journalists, students and the general public to “take prompt and responsible actions… to implement the resumption and continuation of research and development and field testing of Bt talong in the Philippines” as it is “fully justified and should be urgently prioritized.”
Read the statement of support in full.