Press Release
July 15, 2010


Sen. Edgardo J. Angara today urged the new administration to harness the country's biotechnology potentials to remedy to the country's ailing food production and to deal with rising food prices.

"Biotechnology research can play a crucial role in our country's development and how it can improve the lives of Filipinos. It can help solve our most pressing and immediate problems: increasing food production, prolonging our lives and improving its quality, and rescuing our ailing natural environment," explained Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science and Technology and Engineering (COMSTE).

The Asian Development Bank calculated that with every 10% increase in food prices 2.72 million Filipinos become poor. With annual increase in food prices, Angara warned that it is very likely that the number of poor has already risen to more than 30 million or a third of our population.

"Growth in agricultural productivity is key to fighting hunger and poverty. Unfortunately, our country's agriculture sector has not been able to feed our people adequately and inexpensively, compared with our Asian neighbors," he said.

He said the current food situation, both local and global, calls for a concerted, multi-faceted, sustained, and sustainable approach to providing solutions, very important of which is biotechnology research. We need more strategic and highly beneficial research efforts in order to improve productivity, increase farmers' incomes, achieve self-sufficiency, and attain food security.

DNA marker technologies, where certain desirable traits can be picked out from plants and animals, have been explored in speeding up the selection and production of more effective hybrids. Most breeding work in the country is now using this technology, specifically in rice, corn, banana, and coconut.

In the livestock sector, the country can benefit tremendously from the production of vaccines for foot and mouth disease and hemorrhagic septicemia, for diagnostics, and in vitro fertilization.

"Biotechnology provides farmers the opportunity for improved plant growth and higher yield through biofertilizers and biocontrol agents. There is tremendous potential in improved crops containing genes that have tolerance to pests, disease, and drought. These improved plants reduce considerably production costs such as inputs of fertilizers and pesticides," he added.

Angara also forecast that in the next decade biotechnology, ICT, nanotechnology, and neurotechnology will be the areas of radical innovation and source of a huge chunk of the global wealth. "Biotechnology and ICT have the greatest potential for improving people's quality of lives in developing countries, and we must take advantage of this opportunity," he urged.

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