U.S. Promotion of Ag Biotech in the Philippines

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U.S. Promotion of Ag Biotech in the Philippines

Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project (ABSP) II

Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project (ABSP) II "is a USAID-funded consortium of public and private sector institutions that supports scientists, regulators, and the general public in developing countries to make informed decisions about agricultural biotechnology. Where demand exists, ABSPII focuses on the safe and effective development and commercialization of bio-engineered crops as a complement to traditional and organic agricultural approaches. The project helps boost food security, economic growth, nutrition, and environmental quality in East and West Africa, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines."[1]

ABSP II's Southeast Asia Center is based at the Institute of Plant Breeding, University of the Philippines Los Baños and it is responsible for developing transgenic papaya resistant to papaya ringspot virus (PRSV), eggplant varieties resistant to fruit and shoot borer, and multiple virus resistant tomatoes.[1] Other collaborators with their work in the Philippines include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCARRD), the University of the Philippines Los Baños, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

Funding

2006: U.S. Funds Biotech in the Philippines With a Food for Peace Loan

On July 14, 2006, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie A. Kenney, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Margarito Teves and Filipino Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban signed a Public Law (PL) 480 Loan Agreement between the Philippines and the United States.[2] The agreement was for a 30-year $20 million loan that the Philippines will pay back with a one percent per year interest rate. This will provide funding for "agri-biotech research, postharvest management, infrastructure and livestock sector development, and capacity building activities. According to Ambassador Kenney, a considerable amount of the loan will be allocated to agri-biotech research and commercialization to boost the country's efforts. The agreement also stipulates that part of the loan be used to finance the importation of approximately 69,000 metric tons of rice from the United States which will arrive in early 2007. The proceeds from the sale by the government to the private sector will be invested in the program."[2]

Biotech Funding from EMERGE

"USAID Philippines through the Economic Modernization through Efficient Reforms and Governance Enhancement (EMERGE) approved a grant for the implementation of two projects namely, "Development and Commercialization of FSBR Eggplant in the Philippines: Support to Product and Regulatory File Development" and "Papaya Ringspot Virus (PRSV) Resistant Papaya for the Philippines: Strengthening Public R & D, Biosafety/ Food Safety Regulations and Commercialization of Improved GM Crops". The funding support from USAID country missions was sought as a matching fund for ABSP II SEAsia.
"The projects will focus on activities leading to the development of advanced lines of FSBR eggplant and PRSV resistant papaya, evaluate these lines at the isolated/confined field and develop the regulatory file of the products. During the projects' implementation, information and data relevant to regulatory compliance for commercialization will be generated along with the development of improved FSBR eggplant and PRSV resistant papaya varieties. The two projects are multidisciplinary and will involve researchers from other clusters of the University of the Philippines Los Baños College of Agriculture."[3]

Training and Workshops

2006: "Biotech Issues and Communicating Biotech Workshop"

A September 14-17, 2006 workshop held in Manila "gave an overview of current biotech issues and how best to respond to these concerns through principles of risk communication."[4] Significantly, the workshop, which was organized by International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) and SEAMEO Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) was also supported by the US Grains Council.[4] While ABSP II is working on developing and commercializing a number of genetically engineered vegetable and fruit crops in the Philippines, the only GMO sold commercially in the Philippines at the time of the workshop was Bt corn. Delegates came to attend the workshop from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Kenya, and the United States. "Participants who were mostly decision makers on aspects of crop biotechnology in their respective countries took particular interest in the PRSV papaya and Bt eggplant in contained trials."[4]

Using the Philippines as a Model for Southeast Asia

The Philippines was the first nation (and as of 2006, the only nation) in Southeast Asia to allow commercialization of genetically engineered crops. As such, the U.S. is using it as a model for other nations in the country. For example, in a September 2006 workshop on biotechnology held in Indonesia sponsored by USAID's ABSP II, Indonesia looked to the Philippines as an example to learn from.[5]

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Newsletter of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II, Vol. II, No. 4, October 2006.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Philippines Gets Funding for Agric Modernization," Newsletter of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II, Vol. II, No. 4, October 2006.
  3. "FSBR Eggplant and PRSV Resistant Papaya Get Funding from EMERGE," Newsletter of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II, Vol. II, No. 4, October 2006.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "International Biotech Stakeholders Visit ABSP II Projects," Newsletter of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II, Vol. II, No. 4, October 2006.
  5. "Indonesia Conducts Risk Communication Workshop," Newsletter of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II, Vol. II, No. 4, October 2006.

External Resources

Leaked U.S. State Department Memos

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External Articles