Press Release
July 18, 2010


With the last decades of the 20" century seeing rapid advances in our knowledge of life and its mechanisms that have given rise to a new set of practical tools and techniques collectively referred to as biotechnology, Senator Edgardo J. Angara today stressed the need to place the appropriate policy environment to promote bio-industry development in the Philippines.

"Biodiversity is one of our greatest resources and remains untapped. While we continue to train scientists, lack of local employment leads them either to other occupations or to foreign shores," said Angara who chairs Senate Committee on Science and Technology.

He added, "This generation is hailed as the biotech century. On one hand, we are faced with challenges like climate change, non-renewable energy sources, dwindling fresh water supply, increasing population and environmental protection. On the other hand, new discoveries in biology are found everyday that can solve these problems."

Despite government's efforts in biotechnology - the establishment of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at UP Los Banos, Department of Science and Technology's (DOST) priority investment in Science Park for business incubation, and the Department of Agriculture's research centers, these investments remain insufficient to foster the growth of the biotechnology industry in the country.

"We need active public-private partnerships to make it work. Government should work closely with private firms. The academe must work closely with industry." he said.

In US, Canada, Australia and several EU countries, as well as Singapore, Malaysia, China, India and Taiwan, have put in place a policy environment that encourages bio-industry development, focusing on public-private collaboration. These policies include support for high quality research, rapid research results to marketable products/services, support for start-up companies, and other incentives for industry to develop/adopt new technologies. Large and competitive grants are also provided for high quality research work in research institutions, huge grants for industry-public collaborations to fast-track technology development and guarantee funds for venture capital investing in biotechnology is also provided.

In the Philippines we lack appropriate policy environment to promote bio-industry development. Many policies encourage individual rather than multidisciplinary achievements, while biotechnology requires a multidisciplinary approach and government funds for research cannot be committed for terms longer than one year yet technology and product development may take years.

Under Senate Bill 3140, an act promoting the growth of a biotechnology industry in the Philippines and the creation of wealth from biodiversity, the private sector is given incentives to invest in biotechnology R&D by allowing the total R&D cost and prices of shares of stocks in biotech companies as tax deductible and majority of the government's investments in biotechnology R&D is awarded through a government corporation to lessen the burden of an unwieldy accounting and auditing system.

"This measure will address the weaknesses of our system and will enable the country to develop a biotechnology-based industry," said Angara.

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