Press Release
October 16, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara urged the agricultural and energy sectors to focus their efforts on tapping the potential of algae as a biofuel and as a source of animal feeds.

Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, noted that according to the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2011, pro-biofuel policies--particularly those from the US government in support of corn ethanol--were a major factor in food price spikes that exacerbated world hunger.

"The report called for the removal of the biofuel subsidies that had made prices more volatile. For sure, any effort to find alternatives to fossil fuels should not jeopardize any attempt at staving off hunger," explained Angara.

"But this makes the case for more algal R&D for biofuels given algae does not immediately draw away from the arable lands used in growing food," said the veteran lawmaker, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE).

Earlier this month, Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras made pronouncements that PNOC-Alternative Fuels Corp. (PNOC-AFC) had scrapped its plans to cultivate jatropha as a biofuel source. He expressed that the government is looking into algae as a possible substitute.

"A lot of research still needs to be conducted before algal biofuels can be as cheap as fossil fuels. But algae are already utilized for nutraceuticals and animal feeds for their proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. We may not have to put up subsidies for algal R&D in biofuels, because a processed algae industry in the country may already be lucrative in itself," said Angara.

COMSTE proposed the establishment of the Philippine Institute for Algae Research and Commercialization (PINARC), which will become an innovation cluster--a three-way partnership between government, the academe and industry--in algal R&D.

During their respective Senate budget hearings, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) pledged to devote funding to the creation and operations of PINARC.

"Our climate is literally ripe for an algae industry. But the only way for such an industry to grow is through synergy among our government agencies, universities and private sector players," stressed Angara.

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