NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 1
3 Inexorable Advance
9 Tilapia: the wonder fish
COVER STORY 26 Wasting nothing in solving
the problem of waste
By Jonathan Ronquillo
4 Moving closer towards
agricultural modernization A big joke that started
28 a serious business
5 Agri chief steps up efforts to increase
production, farmers incomes
through the use of biotechnology
In this issue 30
Biofuels Act to boost coconut,
6 A fish and a people
By Ian Go Vol. 2 No. 6
10 A fish with a name, and ID
By Jonathan Mayuga
11 Microbes in our food
By Glecy Gamboa
EVENTS 34 Winners in the Jose G. Burgos Jr.
Awards for Biotech Journalism
24 Quo Vadis?
By Benigno Peczon, Ph. D.
APEC agricultural biotechnology
12 meet a success 32 From camote cue to fuel
By Vivencio Mamaril
Proceedings of the Third Asian
22 Biotechnology Meet
By Benigno Peczon, Ph. D.
35 R&D—Keeping Filipino industries
well into the Future
By Saturnina Halos, Ph. D.
Joel C. Paredes, editorial director • Lyn Resurreccion and Roja Salvador, associate editors
Benjo Laygo, art director • Nanie Gonzales, associate art director • Jonathan Mayuga,
chief of correspondents • Dr. Edita Burgos and Abe Manalo, editorial consultants • Leonilo
Doloricon, art consultant • Ian Go, Eltheodon Rillorta, staff writers • Menchu Bon, Ressie
Benoza and Rhoda Yumang, editorial staff
BioLife is a bi-monthly magazine published by the Biotechnology
Coalition of the Philippines in cooperation with the J. Burgos Media Our partner agencies are the Department of Agriculture, DA-Biotech Program Implementation
Services Inc. with editorial offices at 2/F The Advocacy House, Unit, and Technical Committee for Public Awareness and Education of the Philippine Agricultural
8 Sct. Chuatoco St, Quezon City, Philippines. and Fisheries Biotechnology Program, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study
Telephone (632) 4137293. and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry
Fax No. (632)3728560. and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD)
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Our Biotech for Life Media and Advocacy Resource Center is open to the public. It is located at
Website: www.biotechforlife.com.ph 92 Road 1 corner Road 33, Project 6, Quezon City, Philippines with Telefax No. (632) 5295292.
2 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
HE recently held workshop of Asia-Pacific Eco- biotechnology.
nomic Cooperation (APEC) biotechnology ex- With fossil fuels possibly running out in two
perts in Manila showed to all and sundry that a generations, and agricultural land being eaten up by
general consensus has been reached about the need for industry, the world has become smaller and poorer and
biotechnology products to reach far and wide, im- would not be able to sustain itself in the old way.
prove agricultural and fisheries products and benefit Agriculture and fisheries have to get out of the old
mankind in the long haul. mold and pursue new means to produce more food,
No one can dispute the fact that biotechnology has making available better nutrients for every human
started to win over the skeptics and demolish the being who would otherwise starve to death in some
doomsayers who found no benefit from advances in desolation row.
science, genetic engineering and even traditional The dawn of a new global situation has sparked
biotechnology. keen interest on
The threats of biotechnology and
biotechnology bruited with the threats to
about by detractors have human security be-
not come to pass. There coming even more
has been no invasion of intense, the world
oversized insects and community has to
plant and animal diseases understand that
because of biotechnol- rationality must prevail
ogy. Continuing field
tests have doused cold
water on criticisms
about a new wave of
ILLUS and collective efforts
must be undertaken to
produce more nutri-
tious crops and fish at
ogres and vampires that
would devour humanity
because of biotechnology
BY NEIL least cost, just as the
world must be taught
how to maximize the
products. use of renewable
In the end, it is energy.
science that would It is heartwarming
prevail and lift the veil to note that the
of darkness that has NEIL DOLORICON country has taken
engulfed the critics, and their true believers. calibrated moves to win over citizens on the side of
Today, Filipino biotechnologists are working not science and reason by explaining the benefits of bio-
only on Bt corn but also on types of tilapia and other technology and showing how agriculture, fisheries,
fisheries products that would ensure food for the pharmaceuticals and so many industries would benefit
pantry. They are rushing to obviate the theory of the from research and development on new products
Canadian researcher Boris Worm in the journal Science through genetic engineering and tissue culture.
who had predicted the extinction of frequently caught Humanity is still locked in a fight to survive and it
fish varieties by 2048 unless conservation is resorted to is still warring with itself on how to use resources in a
and nations are disciplined not to overfish. sustainable manner, never losing sight of the need to
In a big way, biotechnologists are using science to maintain equilibrium between man’s needs and the
defeat the threats of famine, starvation, poverty and requirement of the ecology to sustain itself.
even end the domination of the wealthy 2 percent of It is to the credit of APEC that it has taken the lead
the planet’s population against the hapless 98 percent. to craft a protocol on biotechnology products and
Unless superstition rears its ugly head and the roar agree on biosafety standards that would apply on the
of ignorance stifles the voice of enlightenment, the commercial use of these products for the best interest
planet has no other option but to embrace the way of of the world’s biggest economic group.
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 3
HE Philippines is inching closer towards fuller Philippine agriculture in the biotech century. the spokes that, in turn, are supported by the bio-
agricultural modernization. With Agriculture The 2006-2016 DA Biotechnology Roadmap, agri input industry.
secretary Arthur Yap at the helm, it is not he said, specifically enumerated strategies in join- “Bioprocesses using modern biotechnology have
surprising that 2007 will be another banner year. ing the biotech century revolution. been developed by a local company to ensure that
Experts say the only way to increase farmers’ the quality plant extracts is acceptable in the world
incomes and reduce poverty incidence in the coun- Targeting world market for natural market. Technologies for medicinal plants produc-
tryside is to modernize agriculture through modern ingredients tion and micro-propagation have been developed by
biotechnology. Through this, farmers are assured The DA, he said, will target the world market the University of the Philippines in Los Banos (UPLB)
of increased yields and reduced production costs, in for natural ingredients with the application of tradi- and the Department of Environment and Natural
accord with the thrust being vigorously pursued by tional and modern biotechnology. Resources (DENR),”he added.
the Department of Agriculture (DA). Creating a natural ingredient cluster of indus- The technologies for bio-agri inputs such as
Yap said biotechnology has always been an in- tries, he said, will be a key strategy to achieve compost, biofertilizers, biopesticides, and
tegral part of President Gloria Arroyo’s 10-point this goal. bioenhancers are now available in the market.
agenda. “The growing demand for natural ingredients in Paras said integrated processing is a growing
Holding on to the promised benefits of tradi- the world market is an opportunity for the Philip- trend in the world to increase the value and com-
tional and modern biotechnology to the agriculture pines,” he said. petitiveness of traditional crops.
sector, Yap said the DA will continue to support Paras said the growing demand for natural in- “All these industries will create new jobs, new
programs that would sustain the activities that were gredients in the world market has opened a brand money to fuel the rural economy, and new resources
implemented over the past few years. new world for farmers, entrepreneurs and technol- of revenue for the government,” he said.
The DA played a major role in promoting the ogy developers in the Philippines. He said through biotechnology, the DA would
safe and responsible use of biotechnology. He said taking this advantage would give the promote technology development that will help in-
Agriculture officials said 2006 was a fruitful Philippines an edge in this province, because it is crease the value of traditional crops, like rice, corn,
year for agricultural modernization, noting the suc- one of the most biologically diverse countries in the coconut, abaca, and seaweeds.
cess of the implementation of various programs world. Paras cited as an example palay, which is now
that promote the advances in biotechnology. “This biodiversity is a huge resource that can processed in India, Japan and California to recover
Over the years, the DA Biotech Program headed be exploited to create new products and new indus- both the grain and the rice bran all using an enzyme.
by Director Alicia Ilaga, popularized the application tries to satisfy the growing demand for natural He said research and experience show that
of biotechnology in research, development and ex- ingredients for food and medicine,” he said. vitamins and pharmaceutical grade
tension. Paras said a cluster of new industries would silica are also recoverable.
It has promoted and supported technology de- be established and promoted. Paras has added many
velopment and commercialization of biotech prod- products derived from
ucts, and helped enhanced institutional capacity of Improving competitiveness of coconut.
concerned government agencies and research insti- traditional agri-fisheries However, he said
tutes. It has also embarked on policy research that products there is no processing
paved the way for the formulation of sound regula- Paras said the DA would also im- plant that extracts all
tory system, which was supported by the pronounce- prove the competitiveness of traditional these products from the
ment of President Arroyo. Philippine agri-fisheries products through nut.
the applications of bioprocessing to inte- “Integrated process-
‘Stepping up the Biotech Revolution’ grate whole crop processing for improved
Agriculture undersecretaries for field opera- product recovery.
tion Jose Emmanuel Paras and policy and planning “The bioprocessing of natural ingredients
Segfredo Serrano said this year, the DA will vigor- sector constitutes the hub of
ously pursue programs and activities to keep pace the proposed Philippine
with the 20th century “Biotech Revolution.” natural ingredients indus-
“We still believe that biotechnology holds a try cluster,” he said.
greater promise in the future not only for our coun- According to
try but for other countries as well. We still Paras, the farm-
believe that biotech is the present and future ing sector con-
of Philippine agriculture. It started stitutes
as a buzzword and now has be-
come an important aspect that
countries strive harder to be com-
petitive in,” Paras said.
Paras said the DA has formu-
lated a roadmap that would position the Agriculture Sec. Arthur Yap Usec. Paras
4 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
Agri chief steps up efforts to increase production,
farmers’ incomes through the use of biotechnology
AGRICULTURE secretary Arthur Yap recently approved P45.3 million worth the Fiber Development Authority (FIDA) to develop genetically modified vari-
of biotech projects for 2007. eties of abaca, which is a major agricultural export.
Yap announced that he has given the green light to nine applied biotech- Yap said the FIDA project is part of the DA’s continuing efforts to
nology research projects this year, in step with the sustained efforts by the maintain the Philippines’ status as a world leader in abaca production. Manila
Arroyo administration to rev up the farm sector by raising yields and in- hemp, as abaca is known in the global market, continues to be in high demand
comes in the countryside. worldwide as its use has now expanded to the car manufacturing and cos-
The nine biotechnology projects, Yap said, aim to improve the production metic industries.
of rice, coconut, papaya and abaca, and increase yields of macapuno through The Philippines supplies 84 percent of the world demand for raw fiber,
mass propagation. cordage, pulp and fibercraft manufactures.
This is anchored on the policy of the Arroyo administration to promote Yap said one major threat to the abaca industry that is being addressed
the safe and responsible use of modern biotechnology for food security, by the DA, through this FIDA project, is the outbreak of viral diseases that
equitable access to health services, environmental protection and industry lowers crop productivity.
development. The FIDA project intends to develop genetically modified abaca vari-
Yap said biotechnology is integral to President Arroyo’s 10-point devel- eties for commercial production that are more resistant to viral patho-
opment agenda because it helps improve agricultural production and creates gens, Yap said.
more jobs in the farm sector. Moreover, Yap said he has also approved a P3.68 million parallel project
He said biotechnology would also accelerate the development of one of to be jointly implemented by the University of the Philippines in Los Banos
President Arroyo’s flagship projects at the North Luzon Agribusiness Quad- (UPLB) Foundation, UPLB Institute of Plant Breeding, FIDA and the Philippine
rangle (NLAQ), one of the super regions identified by the President. Nuclear Research Institute to develop abaca with resistance to viruses by
This, Yap said, can be achieved by reducing farm inputs and more radiation-induced mutation technique.
foreign exchange savings. Besides these initiatives, Yap has also given the go-signal to a P6.27
Yap, the government’s ”development champion” for the NLAQ said million project to produce papaya hybrid varieties with delayed ripening traits
among the projects he approved include a P1 million project to increase rice in a bid to improve production and minimize post-harvest losses to growers.
production by using improved hybrid rice lines, which will be implemented by The UP Los Banos Foundation and the UPLB Institute of Plant Breeding
the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) would implement the project.
He said a P1.5 million project will also be carried out by the Philippine Yap has also approved a P2.96 million project of the PCA-Albay Re-
Coconut Authority (PCA) to manage and prevent the spread of brontispa search Center to mass propagate macapuno to help growers meet local and
disease, which is a prevalent threat in the coconut industry along with a foreign demand for the product; a P2.02 million project to accelerate the
P1.93 million project of the PCA-Albay Research Center to clone and mass development of coconut breeding lines to be carried out by the PCA-Zamboanga
propagate high-yield coconuts. Research Center; and a P5.2 million project of the Philippine Rice Institute to
The DA, according to Yap, will also allocate a P20.7 million budget for maintain the genetic purity of hybrid rice varieties. (Jonathan L. Mayuga)
ing is a growing trend in the world to increase the allocate fund for projects that will help the Phil- the DA Biotech Program.
value and competitiveness of traditional crops,” he ippines realize its vision through modern biotech- These include the conduct of modernization
said. nology. of biotech labs and validation of biotech-based meth-
He said the DA, for instance, has allotted ods for seed testing, variety identification and
‘A collaborative effort’ P25 million to augment the manpower capabilities plant pathogen detection at the Bureau of Plant
For his part, Serrano said the DA will continue of the DA Agricultural Biotech Center. Industry (BPI).
to support research and development in collabora- “We are moving forward and there are defi- The biotech laboratories’ capabilities are being
tion with other government agencies and other fund- nitely bright prospects in biotechnology,” Serrano enhanced for animal disease diagnosis, control, pre-
ing institutions. said. vention and improved livestock production, and mo-
Serrano said the DA would also continue to lecular-based detection and identification of patho-
‘Pinoy GMOs’ genic microorganisms in meat at the Bureau of Ani-
The DA, he said, will continue to promote its mal Industries (BAI) and the National Meet Inspec-
on-going “Pinoy GMO” applied biotech research and tion Service (NMIS).
development projects being funded and monitored
under the DA Biotech Program. Forging, strengthening partnerships
These projects include the development of the According to Serrano, they are currently de-
Vitamin A Rice and Tissue Culture Rice Projects of veloping the Biotechnology Course for Local Gov-
the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the ernment Units, which seeks to increase local offi-
Bt Cotton Project under the Cotton Development cials’ capabilities in initiating development innova-
Authority (CODA) and Abaca Biotechnology. tions and partnership for local development through
The projects are aimed at improving crop vari- biotechnology.
eties resistant to current problems on pests, dis- “The Biotech Course for LGU will help make
eases and deficiencies. local officials appreciate biotechnology and its
Several institutional capacity strengthening benefits. We are currently preparing the module
projects related to biodiversity, environmental and designed for a community-based learning mode,”
food and feed safety of agribiotechnologies and its he said.
Usec. Serrano Dir. Ilaga products are being supported and monitored under Turn to page 32
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 5
By IAN GO genetic technology for producing all- or Luzon State University Campus in the Sci-
nearly all-male progeny in the Nile tilapia. ence City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija. The si-
ERTAINLY, a few would argue that Known as the YY male technology, this lence and peace in the place does not reflect
Filipinos romance with the tilapia, the takes the form of a breeding program com- the heavy responsibility that it carries.
common name for a group of three bining feminization and progeny testing, to NFFTC bears the burden of providing
genera, Oreochromis, Sarotherodon and tila- produce novel males with YY genotypes (i.e., the country’s freshwater fisheries industry
pia, with the Nile tilapia, Prechromis niloticus, with two male sex chromosomes) instead of with modernized aquaculture technology,
generally considered the best species for fresh- the usual XY male genotype. These YY males quality seedstock of tilapia, giant freshwater
water aquaculture. are known as “supermales” and have the prawn, and other indigenous species of high
Though not originally from Philippine unique property of siring only male progeny. commercial value towards sustainable aquac-
waters, having originated from Africa, the The all-male progeny of YY males are ulture to ensure attainment of food security
Filipino people have developed a sort of bond termed genetically male tilapia (GMT ) and and eradicate poverty among fishfarmers
with the fish, and the fish with the people. are normal XY males (although some can and fisherfolk, a large part of the burden
Only a selected few though would rel- “naturally” revert to female). The hormone falls, as always, on the top man’s shoulders.
ish the thought of being compared with, treatments used in the breeding program to “We are involved in everything, train-
much more being identified with a fish, that, produce YY males are two generations re- ing extension, research and development
well, eats fecal matter. moved from the fish that are consumed so and production of tilapia,” said Dr. Melchor
Viewed from another angle, it means neither the GMT or their YY male parents Tayamen, NFFTC’s Nueva Ecija Center
that tilapia, like Filipinos, are survivors. We Chief and Project Manager.
both thrive under the most difficult of situ- “The fish has a wide tolerance NFFTC’s roots can be traced to a grant
ations and environments. We both make do from the Freshwater Fisheries Development
with what is available. The fish has a wide for most diseases and Filipinos Center Project between the Philippines and
tolerance for most diseases and Filipinos re- resist being hospitalized, not the United States Agency for International
sist being hospitalized, not only because they only because they do not relish Development (USAID) and the Texas A&M
do not relish the idea but simply because University. It was then called the Freshwa-
they do not have the money to pay for medi-
the idea but simply because they ter Fish Hatchery and Extension Training
cal services. do not have the money to pay Center (FFH-ETC).
And both the tilapia and the Filipino for medical services.” “March 1979 noon, may grant from
both reproduce at a rate that is detrimental USAID, the center was fully operational since
to growth. are treated in any way. This is an environ- 1981. Up to 1984, if I remember correctly,
This ease in reproduction represents one mentally friendly technology requiring no may assistance ‘yung USAID,” Tayamen re-
of the principal problems in the optimiza- special facilities for application. calls.
tion of yields in tilapia culture. The fish A series of on-farm trials of GMT were From then the center has gone through
breeds too readily! Energy is diverted from conducted in the Philippines, including all a series of name changes. In January 8, 1986,
growth, into the behavioral and physiologi- major types of culture system ranging from FFH-ETC was renamed National Freshwa-
cal interactions between the sexes, and into extensively managed earthen ponds through ter Fisheries Center (NFFFC). In October
the production of eggs. to intensive tank based farms. The GMT 1987, during the reorganization of BFAR,
Recently, it was discovered that the most proved to have excellent properties for aquac- the center came to be known as the Na-
effective solution to this problem is to grow ulture, cost effectively producing significant tional Freshwater Fisheries Technology Re-
only one sex, preferably males as they grow increases in yield of uniform sized fish and search Center (NFFTC).
faster and to a larger size. A number of tech- controlling reproduction all culture systems. “Noong 1998, noong na-approve ‘yung
nologies have addressed this problem, in- YY males, which are as viable and fertile as Philippine Fisheries Code (Republic Act
cluding hybridization and hormonal sex re- normal males, can now be produced in large 8550), naging National Freshwater Fisher-
versal, but none produce mono-sex fish in a numbers and are being used commercially to ies Technology Center,” the center chief said.
consistently effective, affordable and envi- mass produce high yielding GMT for tilapia The center’s task involve giving techni-
ronmentally safe way. growers in the Philippines, through a net- cal assistance on different aquaculture mat-
Through the application of simple ge- work of licensed and accredited hatcheries. ters like technologies on hatchery and grow-
netic manipulations, the University of Wales The National Freshwater Fisheries out management of tilapia, fish nutrition,
in Swansea (UWS) in collaboration with Technology Center of BFAR fishpond engineering, water quality man-
Fisheries Aquaculture Center-Central The National Freshwater Fisheries Tech- agement, fish-health management and in-
Luzon State University (FAC-CLSU) has nology Center (NFFTC) lies on a tranquil tegrated farming.
developed an innovative and robust new 35-hectare property within the Central NFFTC also provides training/seminars
6 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
Fish barbecue, anyone? “Ngayon we are focused on genetic im-
provement of the farm tilapia,” he said.
“IMAGINE… sausages and hotdogs lovingly prepared to delight In 1987, Tayamen said that there was
without the fright… rich in protein, low in cholesterol, and a problem in tilapia breeding that caused
contains sufficient amount of Omega-3 that enhances health the downward spiral of production of
and brain functions…So go on…indulge and stay fit” mosambicus, the common black tilapia.
At first glance, there is something fishy about this “This led to the Genetic Improvement
unique selling point. of Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) Project focusing
But it’s true.A fish sausage that tastes like those on O. niloticus, which involved selective
juicy sausages from pork and other meat prod- breeding and classical genetics of the Phil-
ucts is what you’ll get. And you’ve got to taste it ippines, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan
to believe it. strain,” Tayamen said.
Fisher Farms, Inc., a company based in “Then dito nag-import na tayo ng Nile
Bulacan, is the leading aquaculture food tilapia, ‘yung niloticus, from Africa, Egypt,
processor in the Philippines. Kenya, Senegal and Ghana,” he continued.
A pioneer innovator in aquaculture From the GIFT Project emanated the
products processing, the company sup- GET 2002 Excel Tilapia Program, the Im-
plies a wide range of premium quality fresh, frozen and value-added aquacul- proved Excel Program, the BEST (Brack-
ture products to various clientele and institutions, including groceries, supermar- ish-water Enhanced Selected Tilapia) for a
kets, fast food chains, restaurants, distributors, hotels and households. tilapia breed that could withstand saline
The company boasts of processing only the freshest catch and secure its quality through environment, and the development of the
a fully automated and Hazard Analysis for Critical Control Points certified processing plant cold-tolerant tilapia that could withstand the
based in Bulacan. Cordilleras and the cold season.
The facility applies only individual quick freeze technology or IQF, a system that allows “Maganda ang naging pagtutulungan
for the fastest and most efficient freezing speed to lock-in quality and freshness. namin ng Central Luzon State University
The company has the support of complete breeding facilities, grow-out farms, an ad-
vanced feed technology and the FFI’s strict “post-harvest system” of transporting live and To meet its goals, the FAC is
fresh produce to its environment-controlled processing facility. involved in research to develop,
FFI’s integrated system for full traceability of its products from the start of fry selection
to the final processed product, which secures a continuous supply of high quality products verify and package technologies
that meet the most stringent healthy and safety standards. for the efficient utilization
Milkfish or bangus, one of its proud products, is prepared in various ways. Name it— and economic exploitation
whole deboned, marinated, smoked baby, sinigang cut, or bangus belly.
The company exhibited and provided free taste to the participants of the 10th Asia- of the freshwater resources
Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group– of the country.
Research, Development and Extension of Agricultural Biotechnology (ATCWG-RDEAB)
workshop participants held recently in Manila during a visit at the Bureau of Fisheries and (CLSU), UP-Marine Science Institute at
Aquatic Resources (BFAR) at the Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija. Freshwater Aquaculture Center, sa genetics,
But, how was it? environment, extraction, sa fishpond, sa
“It’s good,” Kim Donghern, Lead Shepherd of the 10th APEC ATCWG-RDEAB sub- cage,” Tayamen said.
group who visited the Bureau of Fishereis and Natural Resources (BFAR) in the Science The gauge that measures the success of
City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija says after a taste of a fish barbecue, another brilliant innova- most human endeavors is its effect on the
tion, during one of the company’s free-taste test. general population. Asked how the NFFTC
has helped the Filipino in general, Tayamen
and on-the-job training, serves as resource Castillejos, Zambales, and the Technology “Malaki na ang naitulong. Noong wala
person for consultancy services, and is in- Outreach Station in Sta Barbara, Iloilo. pang genetics, inaabot ng isang taon ang mga
volved in fish dispersal and evaluates devel- Hatcheries can also be found at the Re- tilapia natin. Na-shorten na ang period
opment plans of proposed aquaculture gional Freshwater Fisheries Center in ngayon bago sila ma-harvest, mas mabilis ang
projects. Caluwasan, Clarin, Bohol, in the Mindanao kita saka lumiit ang cost of production,” he
“Buong Pilipinas, lahat ng central hatch- Integrated Agricultural Research Center for said.
eries, in terms of production and genetic re- Freshwater Fisheries at the University of “Wala nang nagbe-birthday na tilapia
search, everything,” Tayamen told Biolife Southern Mindanao (USM) campus in ngayon,” he concluded.
magazine. Kabacan, North Cotabato and the Fresh-
Among the central hatcheries Tayamen water Demonstration Fishfarm in Sto. The Freshwater Aquaculture Center
was referring to are the Regional Techno Domingo, Bay, Laguna and other research The Freshwater Aquaculture Center, on
Demo Center in Nanguyudan, Paoay Ilocos stations. the other hand, is a multi-disciplinary re-
Norte, the Research Outreach Station for As he was being interviewed, Tayamen was search unit also at the Central Luzon State
Freshwater Development in Looc, on his way to Mindoro for site evaluation. University responsible for aquaculture and
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 7
fisheries research and development. It oper- ratory/ analytical assistance and occasional
ates and collaborates closely with the farm visits.
university’s College of Fisheries, with which FAC’s research and development (R&D)
it shares a common core research staff as well and information dissemination and devel-
as facilities. opment efforts without facilities like re
The FAC started in 1972 as the Fresh- aquaculture research in Souteast Asia, he
water Fish Station under the Inland Fisher- people have developed a efforts would not
ies Project, a USAID supported government
project intended to promote the develop-
ment and utilization of inland freshwater
resources of the country for aquaculture.
be possible without facilities like research
laboratories for soil and water quality, aquatic
biology fish pathology and fish nutrition,
experimental facilities including ponds,
T HE tilapia needs no introduction. For
Filipinos who can afford to eat three
square meals a day, and even for
those who cannot, most probably the
tilapia is a part of their diet at least for a
Later in 1976, the Station was institu- tanks, and aquaria, a library and a confer- meal each week. Grilled, fried, ginataan,
tionalized by CLSU and became known as ence room that sits 76 people. sinigang, adobo, the tilapia is in the same
the Freshwater Aquaculture Center. Aside from FAC’c R&D facilities, it also league as the bangus as far as satisfying
FAC, which aims to be the premier re- boasts of a living fish museum, which in- the Filipinos’ hungry tummies and the need
search center for freshwater aquaculture re- tends to showcase a collection of the indig- of drinkers for pulutan or finger food.
search in Southeast Asia and to provide a sig- enous freshwater fish in the Philippines. The tilapia is, indeed, a common sight
nificant contribution to livelihood enhance- The FAC also has a fisheries informa- on every Filipino table. In fact, it is so
ment, and achieve a positive impact towards tion resource center (FIRC) that holds a common that some may have the idea that
the attainment of improved production and modest collection of fisheries/ aquaculture its name came from Filipino or a native
management of the country’s inland fisheries books, journals and other library materials. language. Wrong. The genus name Tilapia
resources, is mandated to develop freshwater This collection is catalogued in a library is a Latin derivation of the Tswana word
aquaculture technologies appropriate for computer system to facilitate search and re- for “fish,” thiape, coined by Scottish
countryside development through the imple- trieval. Internet connection is also available zoologist Andrew Smith in 1840. Still, some
mentation of rational and relevant research at the FIRC. The FIRC was established
species of tilapia are called St. Peter’s fish,
owing to the account in the (Matthew 17:24-
and development activities. through the Pond Dynamics/Aquaculture
27) about Peter catching a fish that had a
It is designated as a national lead center Collaborative Research Support Program. shekel, or a coin, on its mouth.
for research and development in freshwater Barely a year after it was opened in 2001, The tilapia was introduced in Asian
aquaculture under the National Resources it has become an important resource facility waters from its native South Central
Research and Development System for students and researchers. Africa in the 1940s. The succeeding
(NRRDS) of the Philippine Council for Personnel with broad range of expertise decades saw tilapia culture directed
Aquatic and Marine Research and Develop- comprise the faculty and research staff of towards the production of food for local
ment (PCAMRD) of the Department of the FAC. Areas of expertise and fields of consumption and for massive propagation.
Science and Technology (DOST). It is also current research include fish genetics and The tilapia suffered from excessive
the lead institution for freshwater aquacul- breeding, water quality management, fish- breeding and overcrowding and stunted
ture under the National Aquaculture Re- health management, fish nutrition, fisher- growth. Luckily, the industry was revived
search Development and Extension Net- ies economics, aquaculture systems, and when husbandry techniques were developed.
work, under the Bureau of Agricultural Re- aquatic ecology. Commercial fisheries target tilapia
search (BAR) of the DA. The FAC collaborates with government because they are good a source of protein.
To meet its goals, the FAC is involved in agencies in the Philippines like the National However, the accidental and deliberate
research to develop, verify and package tech- Freshwater Fisheries Technology Center of introduction of tilapia into freshwater
nologies for the efficient utilization and eco- the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Re- lakes in Asia have allowed large fisheries
nomic exploitation of the freshwater re- sources (NFFTC-BFAR), GIFT Founda- industries to develop in countries with a
sources of the country. The overriding prin- tion International, Inc. (GFII), Philippine tropical climate like Papua New Guinea,
ciples in the Center’s Research program are Council for Aquatic Marine Research and the Philippines and Indonesia since tilapia
sustainability, environmental friendliness Development (PCMARD) and the Depart- easily thrives in tropical areas and are among
and economic viability. ment of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural
the easiest and profitable fish to farm.
This is largely due to the tilapia’s
Training is also essential as it offers alter- Research (DA-BAR).
omnivorous diet, mode of reproduction
natives to a degree program in aquaculture The center also has links with academic (the fry do not pass through a planktonic
by providing concise, comprehensive and institutions. Locally, it has ties with the Uni- phase), tolerance of high stocking density
practical training course on the principles versity of the Philippines-Visayas and Don and rapid growth.
and different aspects of aquaculture and Mariano Marcos Memorial State University. In the Philippines, there are several
closely related fields. Foreign universities/ institutions like the areas where the fish can be propagated in
In addition to training as a means of in- Florida International University, University paddy fields when rice is planted, and
formation and technology dissemination, a of Arizona, Universite Catholique de would have grown to edible sizes (12–15
the FAC performs an extension function Louvain, the Pond Dynamics /Aquaculture centimeters 5–6 inches) by the time rice
which is limited to providing expert and Collaborative Research Support Program, is ready for harvest.
technical advice to farmers, acting as resource among others collaborate with FAC on rel- Tilapia is resistant to viral, bacterio-
persons in farmers meetings, extending labo- evant aquaculture research projects. logical and fungal diseases than other
8 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
The common tilapia takes about 8-10 French Agency for Food Safety. According
months to be of market size, which is ideally to him, the research involves a very long
is 400 to 500g (8 to 10 months) for whole process of biotechnology.
fish and 700 to 1,000g (11 to 14 months Tilapia eggs are collected and mixed
old) for production of processed fillets. with sperm to induce normal fertilization in
The Philippines is among the major order to produce hybrid species, he added.
tilapia-producing countries in Asia, along He also said mollubicus has even
with China, Taiwan and Indonesia. Latin better performance in terms of survival
American countries like Brazil, Costa Rica, and growth than the red tilapia which is
Mexico and Columbia are fast catching up. now being extensively used in Taiwan.
In the Philippines, the first tilapia On the other hand, Pierre Morissens, a
introduced was the Mozambique tilapia Belgian-born scientist working in the
(Oreochromis mossambicus), imported saline tilapia research, said mollubicus or
from Thailand in 1950. The Nile tilapia saline tilapia could be raised in ponds
(O. niloticus) was first introduced to the alongside shrimps to enable farmers to
Philippines in 1972 and rapidly gained earn more from their fish farms.
popularity with farmers and consumers. According to Morrissens, he saw
Now, it is the main species of tilapia several farms in Pampanga and Bataan
farmed in the Philippines and throughout stocked with both tilapia and shrimps in his
tropical Asia and the Pacific. travels in the countryside, but also quipped
Continuous and substantial efforts of that he does not recommend milkfish, which
freshwater aquaculture research and is commonly popular in the province of
extension in our country since 1972 have Pangasinan, to be replaced by mollubicus.
aquaculture species and tolerates salinity. permitted tilapia farming in fishponds and Chevassus said the study would be
They prefer water temperatures between small-scale reservoirs developed mainly on left entirely to the Filipino scientists after
29° and 31°C. Rapid decline in growth irrigated and rain-irrigated rice lands. Cage two years, after which time a decision
can be observed when the temperature farming has been practiced since the 1970s may be reached by on whether the
range goes below 20°C. in large and small lakes. Other fishponds government will advise fish farmers to use
The inability of tilapia to tolerate low (mostly for tilapia) have long been part of hybrid saline tilapia in their farms.
temperatures is a serious concern for small-scale, mixed enterprise farms in the Aside from its nutritional value, tilapia
commercial culture in temperate regions. uplands and other remote areas. can also potentially help in biologically
They can tolerate lower levels of dis- In Dagupan, Pangasinan, a French- controlling certain aquatic plant problems
solved oxygen though, concentrations less backed research on the saline tilapia since they prefer to gobble up aquatic
than 0.5 mg/l, which is below the toler- called molobicus is ongoing at the plants, duckweed and even some filamen-
ance of most cultured fish. government-owned National Integrated tous alga.
Tilapia consumes a wide variety of Fisheries Technology Development Center. In Kenya, tilapia was introduced to
food including plankton, green leaves, Dr. Bernard Chevassus-au-Louis, direc- control the spread of malaria, because it
benthic organisms, aquatic invertebrates, tor on research at the Fish Genetics Labora- consumes mosquito larvae, and reduce the
larval fish, and decomposing organic tory in France, said the study involves hy- number of adult female mosquitoes that
matter. It has very low fecundity but bridization and selection of the right tilapia are actually the vectors.
mature fast and is prolific in breeding. strain to be grown in brackish and seawater However, these benefits are sometimes
This characteristic can have a that are abundant in the Philippines. outweighed by the fact that tilapia as an
negative effect since they tend to The research is a collaborative work invasive specie. Because a number of
overcrowd, resulting to stunted growth in between Filipino and French scientists, tilapia species are large, fast growing,
mixed-culture practices. The practice of aimed at finding and collecting the right highly fecund, and tolerate a wide variety of
cage-culture prevents this overcrowding, tilapia strain from the wild that can be water conditions (even marine conditions),
as the females cannot recover the eggs for developed and raised in many aquaculture once introduced into a habitat they generally
oral incubation. farms in the Philippines. establish themselves very quickly. In many
All-male culture prevents spawning The project, focused on saline tilapia, places, particularly Florida and Australia,
and also gives better yields as the males which Chevassus went as far as calling feral populations of tilapia species have
grow faster. Exclusively male fingerlings the “chicken of the seas,” is reportedly the had detrimental effects on ecosystems.
are produced using sex reversal tech- first of its kind in the country and in Asia On Rennell Island (Solomon Islands), the
niques or by manually separating sexes. costs the French government at least Rennell Island Teal became extinct after
Males in general demonstrate a growth P600,000 annually. introduced Oreochromis mossambicus
rate 40% faster than the females. Chevassus was once chairman of the preyed on the young birds.
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 9
By JONATHAN MAYUGA
DO you know that the cultured tilapia you
eat at home could be one of those fingerlings
whose parents actually have names? tilapia brood stocks.
At the National Freshwater Fisheries Cen- The base population of COLD tilapia is
ter of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau comprised of Oreochromis niloticus, namely,
of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA- eighth generation Genetic Improvement of able for agriculture, where freshwater is lim-
BFAR) – parent tilapias and their “children” Farmed Tilapia (GIFT ) and the Freshwater ited but there is abundance of saline water.
could be readily identified by marks. Aquaculture Selected Tilapia (FAST). In some cases, the teeming tilapia are im-
For instance, the Cold Tolerant Tilapia or On the other hand, the Brackish water planted with microchips that serve as perma-
COLD, which was conceptualized to develop Enhanced Selected Tilapia (BEST), the nent identification, making it easier for sci-
a breed of tilapia which could withstand cold founder stocks of which are composed of ence researchers at BFAR for monitoring.
temperature and beget year-round supply of three euryhaline species, namely, The procedure is quite simple. The tila-
marketable size tilapia, are marked – both Oreochromis aureus, Oreochromis spirilus, pia is given anesthesia to make them numb
parents and their “children.” Oreochromis mossambicus and three best by placing them for a couple of minutes in
Selected lines are bred to produce four breeds of another tilapia, O. niluticus, was fish bowl with water and the anesthetic on it.
groups of foundation stocks to be dissemi- developed through rigorous growth perfor- After that, the microchips are inserted into
nated as Cold Tilapia Primary Multipliers. mance trial on freshwater environment. a syringe for injection. After injection, an elec-
The foundation stocks are reared sepa- The eighth generation GIFT, FAST, and tronic devise assigns a number and presto,
rately and grouped until they are large enough the YY males or “Genetically Male Tilapia” of the tilapia has been marked with a number.
to be sexed, which is usually about 5 grams, the Genetic Manipulation of Improved Tila- Some parent tilapia at BFAR-NFFTC,
and their fins clipped. pia (GMIT) can be identified according to which is mandated to provide the country’s
COLD A’s upper right fins are clipped fin clips. Either left or right pectoral or pelvic freshwater fisheries industry with modern-
while COLD B’s lower right fins are clipped. fin is removed to represent the four groups of ized aquaculture technology, actually live long
Scientists explain that foundation breed- saline tilapia breeders. enough to feed thousands of Filipinos who
ers are fin-clipped to serve as identification. The major advantage of the BEST tila- love the taste of this popular fish. It has actu-
Either left or right pectoral or pelvic fin is pia for saline water culture is the utilization ally replaced galunggong (round scad) in the
removed to represent the four groups of cold of brackish water swamplands areas not suit- Filipino diet.
10 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
and cheese or the more indigenous ones like
tempeh in Indonesia or idli in India, are called
fermented food. Fruit juices left to their resi-
By GLECY GAMBOA dent microflora (microbes that normally thrive
in fruits) acquire an alcoholic flavor; milk on
standing becomes mildly acidic. Thus, we
have wine and yogurt. Thanks to microbes,
the food that we eat have unique and better
taste, aroma and texture.
Probiotics . . . .
Therapeutic foods and health supple-
ments are in, and one of the most popular
among them are the probiotics, which are
essentially live lactic acid bacteria – Lactoba-
cilli, Streptococci, and Bifidobacteria- that
have beneficial effect on the person’s health.
And how do these “good bacteria” work
for us? Studies have shown that they main-
tain proper balance of organisms in the intes-
tines, reduce lactose intolerance and gastro-
intestinal illnesses. On account of their health
benefits, they are also found in dairy foods,
infant formulae, baby food, fruit-based and
. . . . and a few of our favorite food and drinks
Bread rises because the bakers’ yeasts use
up the sugar in the dough to produce gas
(carbon dioxide) that gives the bread the
desired loose, porous texture. The bak-
ing process kills the yeasts and produces
the characteristic appearance of the loaf
WINE, cheese and bread are part of our Christmas celebrations. But and gives its desirable flavors.
did you know that you only get to enjoy the sparkling wine, mozzarella Cheese is made from the curd of the milk
cheese or French bread because of the action of some lowly microbes? of cows and other animals. It involves a whole
Yes, they do not abound in nature just to cause diseases or scare people process that won’t be complete without the
with anthrax to be used for biological warfare or worse yet, with the lactic-acid producing bacteria like the Stepto-
SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) or AIDS virus, but coccus lactis or the Lactobaccillus bulgaricus.
believe it or not, microbes are used in food as well. Have you seen the holes or eyes due to
the release of carbon dioxide in Swiss cheese
Getting Acquainted with Microbes yellow or reddish and something cottony, or tasted its sweet nutty flavor? These come
As a microbiologist, I always get fascinated fuzzy or threadlike grows on your bread, it is from the activities of an organism known as
when I look through the microscope and find already unfit to eat. These spoilage-causing Propionibacterium shermanii. And the char-
very minute creatures swarming and multi- microbes are molds. They usually depend on acteristic blue marbling and sharp, peppery
plying into thousands before my eyes. plant and animal remains and some also in- flavor in blue cheese is brought about by the
They can divide into two every 20 min- fect living things. Molds can also appear vel- mold Penicillium roqueforti.
utes under favorable conditions. They are vety on the upper surface, some dry and pow- And the alcohol lovers would appreciate
so tiny, measuring a few millionths of a meter dery and others wet or gelatinous. yeast, particularly the Saccharomyces because
that several billions could fit in a matchbox! Bread rises and beer is brewed because they use the sugar and starch in grapes and
The three groups of microbes that are of yeasts, microscopic fungi consisting of turn them into alcohol for our wine and other
often associated with our food are bacteria, single spherical or oval cells. They are 10 beverages.
molds and yeasts. Bacteria can be round or times bigger than bacteria and they live on Although grapes are the most widely used
spherical, single or in pairs, or they can live substances rich in sugar or starch. fruits for wine production, there are other fruits
in clusters appearing like blue-violet grapes and grains being used such as barley for beer,
hanging on a vine. They can be curved like Microbes in our Food sugarcane molasses for rum, corn and potatoes
those causing cholera or rod-shaped, caus- Most of the food we eat are products of for gin and vodka, agave cactus for tequila.
ing sliminess in some food. some microbial action. These types of food, Food without soy sauce and vinegar
When your food turns black, gray, blue, whether universally accepted, like wine, bread Turn to page 32
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 11
THE 10th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) subgroup on
agricultural biotechnology for research, development and extension of
agricultural biotechnology concluded its week-long workshop in Ma-
nila with the call to boost advances in biotechnology, in addition to
modernizing agriculture for increased food production and hastening
the development of biotech products for commercialization.
Participants to the workshop held at the lation. He added that modern biotechnol-
Diamond Hotel on Roxas Boulevard, Ma- ogy is the key to the new green revolution
nila from November 5 to 12 also called for an that the world needs “very soon” to ensure
expansion of the propagation of transgenic food security, citing the daunting problem
plants and trees and thus solve problems re- of having less land devoted for food produc-
lated to food security, treatment of incurable tion owing to massive land conversion for
diseases and global destruction of forests. industrialization and human settlement.
The 10th APEC Agricultural Technical The week-long event became even more
Cooperation Working Group – Research, De- exciting because an equally important bio-
velopment and Extension of Agricultural technology conference – the Third Asian Bio-
Biotechnology (ATCWG-RDEAB) was at- technology Conference was held at the same
tended by 81delegates from 15 of the 21 venue from November 9 to 12.
APEC economies. During the week-long event, opportuni-
The discussions revolved around the need ties for technical cooperation in five areas
to harmonize biosafety regulations among namely agronomic traits, plant-made phar-
APEC economies to fast-track the cross- maceuticals, functional foods and genetically 10th APEC ATCWG-RDEAB Workshop delegates, organizers,
boundary shipment of biotech products and modified or GM trees have been identified. tives during the workshop. The open forum
GMOs among member-economies. The technical workshops allowed del- during the plenary made the exchange of in-
The Department of Agriculture – Biotech- egates to share their country experiences and formation more elaborate.
nology Program has put on an elaborate show insights on some of the ongoing projects. Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo
in hosting the event. No less than Dr. Kim There have been significant inputs and Serrano, during his keynote speech, cited
Donghern, the lead shepherd of the 10th exchange of insights on the harmonization three important areas for biotechnology ap-
APEC ATCWG-RDEAB Workshop, con- and synchronization of biotechnology regu- plications, namely agriculture, fisheries and
gratulated Director Alicia Ilaga, the program’s lation and the all-important topic of intellec- food security against the background of dwin-
overseer, for the success of the workshop. tual property rights aspects of the workshop. dling resources and population growth,
He commended the Philippine govern- Kim said the workshop was a success af- biofuels, and pharmaceuticals and natural
ment for adopting genetically modified crops ter achieving the set goals, with the end view ingredients.
or biotech products. He said such decision of forging economic cooperation and com- Here are some of the highlights of the
could be the turning point for agricultural mitment of sharing technologies. workshop:
biotechnology from being a technology of “I’m happy with the results. And I’m Dir. Wu Min-Tze of Taiwan Agricultural
the future to one of the present time, helping grateful that the Philippines hosted this work- Research Institute said Chinese Taipei’s
farmers not only in the Philippines, but in shop,” says Kim. tropical subfrigid climate and diversity of
Asia and Pacific regions as well. Renowned Filipino scientists, including bioorganisms are ideal for developing agri-
Kim said there is a need for another green those representing the private sector, pre- cultural biotechnology. Dr. Wu recom-
revolution to feed the world’s growing popu- sented country, as well as, industry perspec- mended extensive cooperation and ex-
12 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
PR polices plan an important role in assessing new
proprietary technologies and stimulating local private
sector investment in agricultural biotechnology.
– Dr. Karim Maredia
guests are all smiles at the BFAR Fish Farm in Nueva Ecija.
change of experiences between APEC mem- nology development, technology transfer and about $3.8 billion in 2004.
ber-economies, reiterating their willingness cooperation. He cited active citizen engagement, re-
to actively contribute to boost advances in Government provides support to biotech- sponsible stewardship through efficient and
agricultural biotechnology. nology parks in the form of infrastructure effective regulations and assessment the eco-
Chinese Taipei is being developed as cen- facilities, electricity and water supply. Chi- nomic and social benefits of biotech products
ter of biotechnology for research and devel- nese Taipei provides funding support to ag- before commercialization as the three pillars
opment (R&D) for tropical fruits, vegetables, ricultural biotechnology research up to of the Canadian Biotechnology Strategy.
flowers, livestock and aquatic products. US$20 million a year. Dr. Karim Maredia of the Institute of In-
Wu said Chinese Taipei is pushing for Canada, for its part, boasts of its becom- ternational Agriculture at the Michigan State
the establishment of agricultural biotechnol- ing a global player in biotechnology, with its University discussed issues related to intel-
ogy parks and is promoting international increasing number of biotechnology firms, lectual property rights protection in biotech-
marketing through exhibits and fairs. workforce, area planted to biotechnology nology development commercialization and
They are also strengthening policies on crops, and market opportunities and appli- international trade.
intellectual property rights through the Plant cations not only in agriculture, but also in Maredia noted that IPR polices plan an
Variety and Seedling Act and establishing a the bio-health and food processing sectors. important role in assessing new proprietary
virus-free seedling system. Mr. Giuliano Tolusso, Deputy Director technologies and stimulating local private sec-
Wu said Chinese Taipei is in the process of the Multilateral and Technilcal Trade/Ag- tor investment in agricultural biotechnology.
of establishing research and development as- riculture and Agri-Food Canada said biotech- In the US, he said the implementation of
sistance system through project grants, tech- nology has generated annual revenues of the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980 brought a major
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 13
A Philrice personnel enlightens the delegates about several rice varieties. The delegates during a tour at the P
The delegates stand face to face with hefty Murrah buffaloes. The delegates at the Philrice compound in Nueva Ecija.
14 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
shift in policy allowing public universities and The United States said APEC member
institutions to retain title inventions includ- economies could learn about harmonization
ing royalties or fiscal benefits derived from by referring to international bodies develop-
commercialization. ing guidelines.
MSU generates at least US$4 million a The US has a proposal to establish guide-
year in royalties for the development a cancer lines on food safety for trace amounts of
treatment drug. transgenic material in foods, approved in one
Dr. Saturnina Halos, chairwoman of the or more countries, including the country of
Department of Agriculture Biotechnology origin, but not approved in the importing
Advisory Team said the Philippines has strin- country.
gent biosafety regulation in place which The proposal will be discussed at the No-
started as early as 1990, with the issuance of vember 2006 meeting of the Codex Com-
Executive Order 430, which regulates re- mittee on Foods Derived from Biotechnol-
search on genetic engineering. ogy in Chiba, Japan.
The National Committee on Biosafety For her part, Dr. Rhodora Aldemita of the
Philrice complex. of the Philippines (NCBP), an interagency Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice),
body composed of the Department of Sci- one of public research institute responsible for
ence and Technology (DOST), the DA the the development of the staple food, said there’s
Department of Environment and Natural Re- a need to uphold regulations that are science-
sources (DENR) and Department of Health based and allow some adjustments change in
(DOH), is the agency tasked to administer the conduct of experiments.
EO 430. This was strengthened by the issu- Aldemita also stressed the need to con-
ance of another Executive Order – EO 514. duct periodic review of regulations and make
Aside from the two executive orders, the amendments based on current scientific ad-
DA issued Administrative Order No. 8, re- vances.
quiring the conduct
of science-based risk
assessment to deter- Most of the bacteria are genetically
mine the potential
harmful effects of ge-
modified because of the nature of their
netically modified transformation in the soil or other places,
crops to the environ-
ment and human
underscoring the need to use genetically
health. engineered organism instead of GMO.
Halos said the
DA is implementing a capacity-building pro- She stressed that such requires substan-
gram for its scientists and personnel involved tial budget to effectively implement stringent
in biotechnology regulation. It hopes to de- biosafety regulations.
velop its expertise in the detection of unap- Dr. Subhash Gupta, Biotechnology
proved transformation events that may be Regulatory Services of the United States
entering the country. Department of Agriculture presented the
Sharing industry perspective, Dr. Violeta possible uses of crops as pharmaceutical
Villegas of the seed company Syngenta Phil- factories citing that at least 20 biotech orga-
ippines stressed the need to harmonize regu- nizations now specialize in plant-made phar-
lations without compromising safety. maceuticals.
She said that differing regulatory regimes He said there must be strong and adapt-
could create disruption in regional and glo- able regulatory oversight to ensure the safety
bal trade in food and seeds. She said harmo- of the food system and the environment.
nized regulations could facilitate adoption of Gupta, who reviewed the experience of
important technologies. the US in regulating plant-made pharmaceu-
She recommended a standardized science- ticals as well as the progress made globally,
based process that uses well-established prac- said USDA has made great strides in protect-
tices of risk assessment to identify hazards, ing plant and human health, and environ-
determine the likelihood of risk and establish ment by making required regulatory changes
data requirements to address the risks in har- as new developments in agricultural biotech-
monizing regulations. nology take place.
Dr. Villegas’ said “the best practice” on The importance of public confidence and
harmonization in the Asia-Pacific region trust in regulatory agencies is critical, since
should be adopted. plant-made pharmaceuticals are new prod-
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 15
ucts and have been in the limelight. Proper He said there is no available information sharing and capacity building, technology
regulation should be ensured. to prove that the potential benefits of GM transfers and outright donation of propriety
The US has an open door policy and a trees outweigh its potential risks. technology by private technology providers
case-by-case assessment is applied. Kim said there’s a need for an appropri- to national public research organizations.
In Australia, a review on third generation ate biopolicy and a legal framework that en- He cited ISAAA’s current portfolio of tech-
GM crops known as molecular farming iden- sures the development and safe use of GM nology transfer projects such as the South
tified at least nine products in the pipeline trees. East Asia papaya biotechnology network,
ranging from technology discovery to proof Discussing the persistent organic pollut- sweet potato projects in Vietnam and the
of concept to field trials. ants and various methods of bioremediation, Philippines, and the tissue-cultured bananas
Dr. Gerard Barry of the IRRI emphasized Dr. Fidel Rey Nayve stressed that and biotech trees projects in Africa.
the importance of enhancing the nutritional bioremediationoffers the possibility to destroy Dr. Julian Adams of USAID discussed
value of crops and foods due to the chronic or render harmless various pollutants using the relative roles and responsibilities of all
deficiency in iron, zinc, and vitamin A in natural biological activities. stakeholders for the development of a
developing countries or what is more popu- According to Nayve, there’s a need to transgenic crop, from the proof of concept to
larly called biofortification. further explore the biodegradative abilities commercialization.
Like the Philippines, Korea, China and of indigenous microorganisms, presence of He emphasized that if all stakeholders are
India, where rice is a staple crop, have joined metals and other inorganic, environmental
biofortification efforts and have established parameters, biodegradability of pollutants,
their own biofortification programs. chemical solubility, geological factors, and
In the Philippines, scientists are focused distribution of pollutants.
on developing Golden Rice, a kind of pol- The Philippines has applied fungal acti-
ished rice that now contains meaningful lev- vators like Trichoderma for composing and
els of beta carotene, the plant-precursor of vermicomposting using earthworms.
vitamin A to reduce vitamin-A deficiency, Bioremediation for nitrate contamination
particularly among the poor. of groundwater is an established technology.
IRRI and the National Agricultural Re- There are studies and commercial tech-
search and Extension Systems (NARES) are nologies available for cleansing nitrate con-
backcrossing prototypes into popular Asian tamination of groundwater, which is usually
lines such as Philippines, India, Bangladesh, done by pumping out the water, the nitrate
among other countries. contaminated groundwater, and treat it in a
The Philippines is developing a three-in- bioreactor.
one variety, a nontransgenic bacterial leaf Workshop participants also discussed the
blight and tungro virus resistant combined oil contamination in Guimaras.
with transgenic Golden Rice. There are many people working on GM
Kim, who presented on behalf of Dr. Eun microorganisms for bioremediation, especially
Woon Noh cited the need to balance the two in America and Europe. However, there has
major tasks of forestry which are: the conserva- yet to be a commercial release.
tion of biological diversity in forest ecosystem There are some field testing but these
and production of timber and pulp. strictly contained. The most advanced stage
He said to meet the demands, produc- is a lysimeter test in 2002.
tion forests or plantation with highly pro- Participants agreed that there is a need to
ductive species should be established and distinguish genetically modified and geneti-
natural forest should remain untouched. cally engineered organisms.
According to Kim, transgenic trees are Most of the bacteria are genetically modi-
mainly for improving plantation productiv- fied because of the nature of their transfor-
ity with short rotation. mation in the soil or other places, underscor-
Based on a worldwide list, field trials of ing the need to use genetically engineered
transgenic trees species are for wood, paper, organism instead of GMO.
pulp, fruit, nut oil, coffee, ornamental, refor- Dr. Randy Hautea of the International
estation, soil erosion protection, essential oil, Service for the Acquisition of Agricultural
toxic hot spot soil, bioremediation and Biotechnology Applications (ISAAA) dis-
biopharmaceuticals. cussed strategic alliances and partnerships in
The US has 245 trees released for field agricultural biotechnology development and
trials while China has 1.4 million transgenic cited efforts of the public and private sectors
trees released for field trials. in search and technology development play-
The major concern on transgenic trees, ing a key role in sustaining growth and pro-
he said, is related to transgene escape, hence ductivity gains in agriculture.
the need for a thorough field-testing before Center of his discussion are some part-
commercial release. nership modalities that include knowledge- 10th APEC ATCWG-RDEAB Workshop participants pose for
16 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
behalf of Dr. Bart Bilmer of the Canadian
Although research and development range has focused Food Inspection Agency, discussing the con-
cepts of synchronization and harmonization
on growth enhancement in fish, traits currently with APEC technical cooperation activities
under research and development in Korea range from on agricultural biotechnology.
Purkis suggested areas where APEC
disease resistance and altered coloration to secretion economies could work together to move for-
of pharmaceutical products ward in terms of synchronization and har-
monization on emerging areas such as animal
biotechnology, regional initiatives, needs of
involved in all critical decisions, it will be partners, particularly on making varieties enterprises operating within the APEC re-
highly beneficial. available, improving interactions among ag- gion, and building further on what has been
The development of Bt eggplant for In- ricultural scientists, upgrading infrastructure, done on developing standards.
dia, Bangladesh and the Philippines illus- transferring IP and technology and enhanc- During the workshop, APEC member-
trated the many principles of cooperation. ing private-enterprise capacity. economies agreed to pursue four areas for
He said it has benefited from interacting with Ms. Julia Purkis presented the paper on advancing synchronization and harmoniza-
a souvenir photo during a break at the Diamond Hotel main stairway.
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 17
tion. It was agreed that a small committee
will be created to work further on issues of
synchronization and harmonization. Details
will be discussed in the next meeting of the
Member-economies were asked to iden-
tify their capacity needs and information re-
quirements to help facilitate harmonization.
There are only a few genetically modi-
fied functional foods. Workshop participants
expressed interest in and recognized the po-
tential benefits that functional foods derived
through biotechnology can bring to consum-
ers. However, it was noted that a few geneti-
cally modified crops have been developed for
At present, only the Golden Rice quali-
fies as a functional food that is being devel-
oped and supported by member economies. GIULIANO TOLUSSO, SUBHASH GUPTA, ESTHER LEW,
Canada USDA-APHIS Malaysia
Participants agreed to explore the idea
of soliciting greater involvement from other
economies that have not yet indicated active
interest on Golden Rice.
Labeling requirements, regulatory and
food safety would also have to be discussed
with regards to functional foods derived from
For the development of GM trees, Aus-
tralia reported that it has contained field tri-
als on Pine and Spruce. The US supports a
project to create a high-resolution genetic map
for cocoa market-assisted selections.
Thailand, for its part, said it is doing DNA
Chinese Taipei has been working on Eu-
calyptus, particularly low lignin content and
high fiber content, which has been undergo-
ing field trial for three years and spruce ALICIA ILAGA, CARLOS MUNOZ SCHICK, MIOK KOMOLONG,
through cell suspension culture, which pro- Philippines Chile Papua New Guinea
duces taxol for breast and ovarian cancer.
The Philippines is setting up a DNA fin-
gerprinting laboratory for forest species
through the Department of Environment
and Natural Resources (DENR) and is set-
ting up regulation on GM trees.
The group that discussed the topic of
GM trees identified three areas for collabora-
tion namely identification of economic ratio-
nale, establishing risk assessment protocols,
and developing DNA fingerprinting tech-
nology for germplasm assessment.
An equally important topic – the devel-
opment of transgenic animals, was also dis-
cussed. Dr. Won-Kyong Chang of the Na-
tional Livestock Research Institute, RDA,
South Korea presented a brief introduction
on the history of transgenic animals and cited
current therapeutic protein researches using LIBERTADO CRUZ, JULIAN ADAMS, JULIA PURKIS,
GM livestock. Philippines USA Canada
18 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
His presentation highlighted the ap-
proval of the first transgenic product ap-
proved for human therapeutic use.
Dr. Chang underscored the need to regu-
late transgenic animals to protect human and
animal health; for societal and ethical values,
biodiversity and environment.
Only a few countries so far have regula-
tions for transgenic animals, namely the US,
Canada and Korea.
Dr. Libertado Cruz, director of the PCC,
said generally, animal biotechnology applica-
tion and acceptability of products derived
from it are influenced by perceived risks asso-
ciated to it by the consumers.
Issues on ethics and trade in relation to
the matter must also be understood and ad-
dressed, he said.
HARVEY GLICK, NINA BARZAGA, WANSUK SENANAN,
Monsanto Singapore Philippines Thailand South Korea’s Wansuk Senanan presented
the status of development of transgenic fish
and other aquatic organisms, a science-based
participatory risk assessment of framework to
address ecological effects of transgenic fish
and the status of regulatory systems for
She said the development of transgenic
aquatic fish is growing rapidly.
Although research and development
range has focused on growth enhancement
in fish, traits currently under research and
development in Korea range from disease re-
sistance and altered coloration to secretion of
Dr. Senanan, however, warned that sci-
entific capacities to assess and manage the
potential risks are inadequate. She said there
is a need to develop systematic methodolo-
DAVID CUNNINGHAM, GRAEME KING, SANSAK NAKAVISUT, gies for assessing and managing ecological risks
Australia New Zealand Thailand of transgenic fish.
For his part, Dr. Felix Ayson, a senior re-
search specialist of the South-East Asian Fish-
eries Development Council (SEAFDEC) said
considering the growing demand for fisher
products and the increasing human popula-
tion, aquaculture biotechnology would be a
welcome development to increase productiv-
ity in the fishery sector.
He urged developing countries to tap the
opportunities offered by biotechnology and
recommended that governments must put
in place the proper standards to address risk
that GMOs may pose to human health and
Discussions on the regulatory issues on
transgenic livestock and fish were extensive.
Korea is in the process of formulating
regulations for transgenic fish. The targeted
PATRICK SKOTH MICHAEL, RHODORA ALDEMITA, WON-KYONG CHANG, deadline is by the end of 2006 and the gov-
Papua New Guinea Philippines Korea ernment agency responsible for regulation
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 19
GM fish will be the Ministry of Fishery and In Australia, there is a law covering GMOs tion education campaign initiatives on bio-
Aquaculture. Regulation would cover devel- that include GM animals and fish. technology in the Philippines.
opment, production, importation and expor- Participants to the workshop witnessed Among the breakthroughs are: training
tation; labeling and monitoring. the awarding of the J. Burgos Awards for Bio- of and interaction with editors and reporters
New Zealand has a single piece of legisla- technology Journalism, formerly called the in print and broadcast; building partnership
tion for regulating all GMOs on a case-by- Gawad Galing for Biotechnology Journalism with the local mass media and information
case basis being implemented by the Envi- held at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan officers award for print and; forging of part-
ronmental Risk Management Authority. on November 8, 2006, where Rev. nership with local government units to pro-
New Zealand regulates import, develop- Emmanuel Alparce, technical committee mote biotechnology.
ment, field trial, and release of all new organ- chairman of the DA Biotechnology Program The result of the workshop will be sub-
ism including GMOs. – National Information, Education, Com- mitted for the APEC High Level Policy Dia-
Chinese Taipei has yet to draft regula- munication and Advocacy in the Philippines logue on Agricultural Biotechnology Re-
tions on GM fish. presented the breakthroughs in the informa- search, Development and Extension that was
Champions of Biotechnology: the 10th APEC-ATCWG RDEAB Worksop participants.
20 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
formed in 2001, in response to APEC lead- Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety Implemen- the Policy Dialogue would be held in Janu-
ers’ recognition of the importance and po- tation. ary in Canberra, Australia.
tential value that biotechnology represents The Policy Dialogue Work Plan for 2007- The issue of RDEAB/Policy Dialogue
to agriculture in general. 2009 was endorsed by the APEC Senior collaboration will be discussed further fol-
Peter Tabor of the US Department of Ag- Officials and will guide the work of the Policy lowing the 6th meeting of the Policy Dia-
riculture, said the High Level Policy Dialogue, Dialogue in the areas of legal considerations logue in January.
a counterpart of the subgroup has addressed associated with agricultural biotechnology, Dr. Miok Komolong of Papua New
many issues of relevance to the responsible public perception and understanding of ag- Guinea’s united biotech Center, PNG Uni-
use of agricultural biotechnology, including ricultural biotechnology and continued dis- versity of Technology, who responded on
intellectual property rights and technology cussion of the impacts of Cartagena Protocol behalf of the member economies, affirmed
transfer, bioinformatics; biotechnology policy, on Biosafety implementation on parties and that the spirit of cooperation on agricultural
development, implementation and commu- nonparties. biotechnology should remain among mem-
nication; biotechnology investment; and He announced that the sixth meeting of ber-economies.
The result of the workshop will be
submitted for the APEC High Level
Policy Dialogue on Agricultural
Biotechnology Research, Development
and Extension that was formed in
2001, in response to APEC leaders’
recognition of the importance and
potential value that biotechnology
represents to agriculture in general.
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 21
Proceedings of the Third Asian
By BENIGNO PECZON Dr. Gurinder Shahi gave an overview of global trends and opportu-
nities on biobusiness, a term he and his colleagues coined. He pointed
HEN public and private institutions work hand in hand out that keys to success in biobusiness are smart people, smart ideas,
with government regulators, modern biotechnology can ef- smart money and smart alliances. Although Asia is well placed to be a
fectively address concerns regarding health, agriculture and major player for value creation, the most difficult part of the success
the environment in a socially acceptable fashion. But with a caveat— equation seems to be finding smart money, i.e., funding of start-ups
the biotech train is not out ot the woods yet. There are many stones before the rest recognizes the potential. Dr. S. R. Rao, Adviser to the
left unturned. There is still much to be done. This became apparent Department of Biotechnology of India’s Ministry of Science and Tech-
at the Third Asian Biotechnology Conference held at the Diamond nology, who works day-to-day on creating value through biotechnol-
Hotel in Manila, the Philippines, which saw the participation of 220 ogy in India, presented and gave an evaluation of Indian policies and
people from Australia, India, Indonesia, Italy, Myanmar, the Philip- implementation strategies. He said that for policies to be effective,
pines, Singapore and the United States. they must be backed up with coherent implementation strategies.
With the the theme, “Biotechnology Opportunities for Develop- Atty. Peter Tabor, International Economist, US Department of Agri-
ing Countries,” the formal conference started off with Dr. Edgar culture—Foreign Agricultural Service described the oversight of
DaSilva reading a backgrounder on Asian Biotechnology Confer- biotech crops in the United States. This oversight is based principally
ences written by Dr. Nagesh Kumar, Director-General of Research on the concept of substantial equivalence. Dr. Saturnina Halos pre-
and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS). The first sented the Philippine government policies that guide the science-
two Asian Biotechnology Conferences were held under the aegis of based approach in the utilization of biotech crops in the Philippines.
RIS in India. In his welcome message, Dr. William Padolina, Deputy Crucial to the Philippine system is the role of its Committee on
Director-General of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Biosafety. The policies in place have permitted the Philippines to
said that although we are making headway in biotechnology, we become the first country in Asia to commercially grow a biotech crop
must not forget that we have to confront legal, ethical, political and for food and feed, Bt corn. Dr. Patricio Faylon, Executive Director,
commercial issues. These demand a high level of accountability and Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources
transparency. Dr. Hubert Gijzen gave an idea of UNESCO’s interest Research and Development (PCARRD) of the DOST presented en-
in biotechnology. In her keynote speech, Department of Science and abling mechanisms for the promotion of agricultural biotechnology
Technology Secretary (DOST) Dr. Estrella Alabastro spoke on the in the Philippines.
growing importance of biotechnology all over the world. She pointed For all its potential, biotechnology must be utilized in a safe and
out that although the United States is presently the acknowledged responsible manner. Session Chair (on Essential Issues) Dr. Edgar
leader in biotechnology, and that in 2005 the EuropeanUnion had DaSilva pointed out the need for sustainable development emerging
the highest-ever increase in biotechnology revenue growth, the Asia from use of ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just and
Pacific region showed the highest percentage-revenue growth in bio- culturally appropriate policies and practices. Although “biosafety” is
technology. Citing a UN report, she said that biotechnology offers not defined in the text of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, Dr.
unparalleled growth opportunities. With regard to success factors, Wendy Craig of the Biosafety Unit of the International Center for
she pointed out that information dissemination and partnerships at Genetic Bioengineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), presented a
many levels are crucial for success in biotechnology endeavors. comprehensive set of questions to help assess the safety/risk of biotech
Enabling policies are crucial for biotechnology initiatives to take crops. In addition, by giving a summary overview of biosafety poli-
off. Session chair on “World Perspectives on Biocommercialization” cies around the world, she demonstrated how genetically modified
22 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
n Biotechnology Conference
organisms (GMO) labeling is likely to be the next battleground in from “cloud opportunities” (ideas which have not yet been converted
the arena of international trade, and further, how ICGEB is provid- to commercially viable products) rather than compete based on price
ing assistance to developing countries in this and many other biosafety alone in ubiquitous and well-known commodities.
issues. A program to assist developing countries develop regulations In the hunt for converting cloud opportunities into summit op-
and policy which are practical, workable, appropriate and science- portunities are Dr. Nina Gloriani Barzaga and her colleagues at the
based involves the International Food Policy Research Institute, the University of the Philippines (UP) and Nagoya City University Gradu-
Danforth Center, Michigan Sate University and Western Michigan ate School of Medical Sciences who are into creation of plant-made
University. Dr. Hector Quemada presented ongoing activities and pharmaceuticals. Dr. Barzaga described the group’s ongoing quest to
challenges facing the Program for Biosafety Systems. In particular, made edible vaccines to control Salmonella typhi, HIV and rabies.
one component, the biotechnology/biodiversity grants, generates data Also in the same hunt for summit opportunities is the group of Dr.
that should be useful for risk assessments in developing countries, Filipinas F. Natividad. Dr. Natividad quoted a 2002 report from the
but the design and interpretation of these experiments, as well as University of Toronto, which lists molecular diagnostics as the num-
their impacts on regulatory policy, ber one in approaches to improve
should be thoughtfully and ju-
diciously applied. Pollution from
“Although Asia is well placed to be a health. She discussed the utility,
advantages and disadvantages,
major player for value creation, the most
oil spills, distillery wastes, landfill and the regulatory approval pro-
leachates, etc. must be addressed. cess for molecular diagnostics and
Dr. Ernesto del Rosario and his
difficult part of the success equation shared her group’s experience
colleagues at the University of the seems to be finding smart money...” while working on a polymerase
Philippines at Los Banos (UPLB) chain reaction based test for the
described potential solutions using biotechnology to address these dengue virus. She also pointed out the huge growth potential in the
problems. use of molecular diagnostics in pharmacogenetics.
Medical biotechnology took centerstage in the session chaired Two major issues, intellectual property rights and ethics were
by Dr. Jaime Montoya, Executive Director, Philippine Council for covered in the session on Enabling Issues run by Dr. Reynaldo Ebora,
Health Research and Development (PCHRD). Executive Director, Philippine Council for Advanced Science and
A huge percentage of the global gross national product (GNP) Technology Research and Development (PCASTRD). Dr. Sachin
is spent on health care. Citing 2001 figures, Dr. Gurinder Shahi Chaturvedi brought out major concerns regarding plant variety pro-
presented numbers showing that globally, healthcare accounts for tection, patents, protection of traditional knowledge and folklore,
9.1 percent of GNP. Biotechnology claims an increasing percentage access to biodiversity and benefit sharing. With respect to patents,
of this sector. there is concern that patents granted may be too broad. In some
But the growth is not in medical biotechnology alone. An opti- instances, patents that cover research tools wield an extremely large
mist who sees a half full glass instead of a half empty glass, Dr. Shahi influence on downstream products. With respect to seeds, Dr.
sees potential in many aspects of biotechnology. He sees the spinning Chaturvedi reported that seed firms in India find it difficult to access
off of agricultural biotechnology into pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, relevant genes as their sequences have been patented. Since licensing
cosmeceuticals, specialty foods, industrial feedstocks, etc. fees are not regulated and can be incredibly expensive, the combined
To maximize potential, he described a game plan whereby the lack of access to desired gene sequences and high licensing fees place
objective is to create “summit opportunities” (high value products) constraints on wider utilization of the technology. With respect to
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 23
biodiversity and benefit sharing, groups such as the Like-Minded Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co., Lt., of Jalna, India, described com-
Groups of Mega Diverse Countries may need to pursue legally bind- pleted and ongoing work to meet regulatory requirements in ongo-
ing instruments at appropriate international fora. The issues raised by ing efforts to bring Bt eggplant to commercial production.
Dr. Chaturvedi’s presentation suggest that this area may need to be Dr. Jerry Flint, Director, Technical Development-Asia Pacific,
discussed in more detail at the Fourth Asian Biotechnology Confer- Monsanto, described the history of Bt corn development and factors
ence, or at some earlier forum, if possible. Stakeholders in the bio- leading to its successful commercial deployment in the Philippines.
technology arena may want to take their cue from the Open Source Noteworthy are the results of an independent study which shows
technology, which is available in information technology. Permitting that Filipino farmers retain 52 percent of value created.
usage of basic tools has fueled the rapid growth of information tech- In the Philippines, 40 percent of children from six months to
nology. In his presentation on Ethics, Bishop Jesus Varela said that five years old and 20 percent of pregnant and lactating mothers are
the Second Vatican Council affirmed that man “judges rightly by his deficient in vitamin A. Predominantly a rice-eating country, Filipinos
intellect (that) he surpasses the material universe, for he shares in the would gain health benefits from consuming rice with built-in beta
light of the divine mind.” Moreover, Bishop Varela said “for every carotene, the precursor to vitamin A.
human need, the ever-creative mind would always come up with the Dr. Rhodora R. Aldemita, Chief Science Research Specialist, Phil-
appropriate technology to adequately respond.” These statements ippine Rice Research Institute at the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva
are in support of the belief that human intervention in the work of Ecija, the Philippines, who recently completed a postdoctoral stint at
God’s creation is not a violation of God’s mandate. This does not give the Albert Ludwigs University at Freiburg, Germany, described the
man carte blanche to do anything he wants. Bishop Varela advocates pioneering work of Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer in building in
use of “The Principle of Double Effect” and the “Precautionary Prin- betacarotene into rice. She also described ongoing activities in meet-
ciple.” According to the former principle, when both beneficial and ing intellectual property concerns and increasing the beta carotene
harmful effects are foreseen, the following must hold: content of local rice varieties. The good news is that that by 2011,
1. The act must be morally good or at least neutral. Filipino farmers may expect to be able to plant the so-called Golden
2. The intention is to achieve the good effect and avoid as much Rice and, moreover, be able to replant the seeds.
as possible (best efforts) the harmful effect. Drought is a major constraint in agriculture in many parts of the
3. The foreseen benefits must at least be equal, if not be greater world. Dr. Kiran K. Sharma, of Genetic Tansformation Laboratory,
than, the foreseen harm. International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics
4. The beneficial effect must flow directly and immediately from (ICRISAT), described completed and ongoing research at ICRISAT
the action and not as the result of the bad effect. to alleviate poor production in drought susceptible areas. Dr. Dennis
According to the Precaution- Gonsalves, Center Director, Pacific
ary Principle, Bishop Valera said,
“prudent policies, based on the
“Prudent policies, based on the Basin Agricultural Research Cen-
ter, Hawaii, related his success with
Precautionary Principle require Precautionary Principle require that papaya resistant to the papaya ring
that decisions be based on a com-
parison of risks and benefits.”
decisions be based on a comparison of spot virus (PRSV) in Hawaii and
his experience in transferring the
The session on “Advance- risks and benefits.” – Bishop Valera technology to Thailand.
ment and Prospects in Agri-Bio- In the district of Puna, on the
technology in Asia: Status and Priorities” was chaired by Dr. George big island of Hilo, in 1994, up to 95 percent of the papaya stand was
Fuller, Executive Director, CropLife Asia. In the overview lead paper, affected by the PRSV, creating a big problem for papaya growers.
Dr. Randy Hautea described the global trends in agri-biotechnology. Fortunately, Dr. Gonsalves and his colleagues had been working
In 2005, 220,000 million acres were planted to biotech crops, an on creating transgenic papaya resistant to PRSV since the mid-80s.
11-percent increase over the 2004 acreage. Sixty-three countries pro- From their accumulated knowledge, by 1999, the decimated papaya
duce or performed research on 57 biotech crops. In 2005, regulatory plantations had been successfully replanted with healthy papayas
approvals on biotech crops were tallied as follows: that were resistant to the PRSV.
USA 73 Philippines 30 In 1997, Dr. Gonsalves brought transgenic papaya to Thailand.
Canada 67 China 18 Field trials conducted in 1999 showed excellent resistance to the
Japan 48 EU 18 PRSV. Then, the project got bogged down in meeting regulatory
In the future, Dr. Hautea said that biotech crops introduced will requirements.
be more tolerant of adverse agronomic conditions, be safer as food, By 2001, Thai regulators placed a moratorium on “on farm” test-
have improved nutritional value, enhanced taste, better fiber and ing of transgenic plants. This moratorium was lifted briefly in 2004
longer shelf lives, and will serve as platforms for plant-made products but in August of the same year, Greenpeace made a massive effort
and renewable energy. against transgenic papaya, stalling the project up to the present time.
The challenges enumerated for agri-biotechnology include: The lesson learned is that even with a willingness to meet regulatory
1. Continuing responsible stewardship in risk assessment. requirements, a project can be stalled.
2. Improving communication with society. The story of Dr. Gonsalves brings us back full circle to the mes-
3. Ensuring that biotech crops in conjunction with conventional sage of Secretary Estrella Alabastro of DOST that there is a need for
technologies contribute to sustainable agriculture, alleviation of pov- dialogue with all stakeholders to see the completion of a project and
erty and a safer environment. the reminder of Dr. William Padolina that there are many issues to
The eggplant is an important crop in India, requiring 510,000 address with heightened vigilance.
hectares to meet local demand. Losses of between 50 percent and 70 Everyone must pull together to see to it that the promise of bio-
percent require from 25 to 70 insecticidal sprays for effective control technology comes to fruition in a manner that meets the needs of all
of lepidopterans. Dr. Bharat Char, Mahyco Research Centre, stakeholders.
24 BIO LIFE
BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
Pending Issues for Resolution
The Philippines was the first country in this
region to plant a biotech crop, genetically modified
corn, on a commercial scale. We are also able to
import a number of genetically modified commodi-
ties for use as food, feed and processing. We thus
can claim a certain measure of success. The biotech
train has left the station, and the Philippines is on
the train. But we are not out of the woods. And we
may be consigned to the least desirable compart-
ment. There is much to do.
National Biosafety Framework on advancements. In the information technology
Although we have been able to been able to get arena, open sourcing fuels the explosive growth.
government approval to import and grow geneti- We must balance patent regimes vis-a-vis open
cally modified organisms (GMOs), there are con- sourcing. While rewarding and protecting inventions,
cerns that we may not be addressing all issues. we must consider opening channels to fuel growth.
Thus, the government has issued Executive Order
514, creating a National Biosafety Framework. This Equitable Sharing
creates a larger National Committee on Biosafety. Countries with inherent biodiversity resources
We must put our collective heads together to meet and entities which develop these resources, which
the requirements of this new mandate. EO 514 makes science must take precedence over politics in set- usually originate from more developed places, must
the process for approval of GMOs tougher. While ting policy. look at equitable sharing of outcomes. What is the
on the one hand, this makes the approval process value of folklore and traditional medicine? What is
more bulletproof, it makes the process longer and Cartagena Protocol the extent of value added by developers?
more expensive. The important thing to remember In October of this year, the Senate ratified the
is that the country has not turned off the spigot as Cartagena Protocol. This protocol addresses the Directions for BCP
far as new GMOs are concerned, as is now the trans-boundary movement of GMOs. It behooves With regard to the relevance and viability of
case in Thailand, which has an ongoing moratorium us to gather meaningful quantitative regarding the the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines (BCP),
in the GMO approval process. India, too, in recent effects of the Cartagena Protocol. The relevant the first habit recommended by Steven Covey in his
months, has decided to place a moratorium on field questions are: book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,”
testing of new biotech crops. Thus, it appears that Are the advantages brought about by the comes to mind. This has to do with goal setting.
while we are being prudent, we must also be on Cartagena Protocol commensurate with the re- The following questions must be addressed:
guard regarding excessive regulation. sources required? Who are the stakeholders of BCP?
Do we have an exit mechanism in place to ad- What are the goals of these stakeholders?
Labeling dress the issues embodied in the Cartagena Proto- How does BCP meet these objectives?
At present, we use GMOs in agriculture and col once we have sufficient quantitative scientific
commerce without labeling. That may not last. Rep. evidence? Recommendations
Del de Guzman continues to investigate the need I raise these questions in the context of the Having defined goals, BCP can then proceed to
for labeling. He is not alone. Several legislators, American invasion of Iraq. America invaded Iraq find mechanisms to meet these. Specific recommen-
consumer groups and individuals continue to make with the best of intentions and now finds herself dations that have come to my mind at this time are:
the call for labeling. The Bureau of Food and Drugs embroiled in discussions on how best to resolve Seek funding from stakeholders
(BFD) has sent to the Secretary of Health a draft sticky issues. Some quarters argue that the inva- Professionalize BCP Staff
administrative order regarding labeling. This draft, sion was not well thought out and did not suffi-
which is science based, has not been signed. Unfor- ciently take into account possible outcomes. There Parting Words
tunately, executive orders and the legislative pro- is a parallel with respect to the Senate ratification I thank Marge Realuyo and Teret Calabria, who
cess in our country are skewed more to political of the Cartagena Protocol. When the country rati- first proposed that I head BCP. I thank the BCP
concerns rather than to scientific truths. We, as a fied the protocol, did we have in place an alternative staff who made so many things possible. I thank all
country, are not unique in this quandary. The United course of action if we find that the action taken the BCP members who shared their talents, time
States, England and other countries are in the same leads to untenable unwanted burdens? and efforts. I thank the people in the organizations
boat. At least in the United States, we have un- who supported our worthy goals and nurtured the
bending people who bat for the idea that science Intellectual Property Rights toddling biotechnology effort take its first steps.
must shape policy, not the other way around. We In order to safeguard inventions, countries is- Now that we have learned to walk, let us run!
must find the same brand of stalwarts to advance sue patents. Patents, however, may be too broad. (Benigno Peczon is the former president of the Bio-
the idea that basic truths imbedded in rock solid If basic tools are patented, these place constraints technology Coalition of the Philippines.)
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 25
OR a former police general like Mayor
Gerardo Flores of Miagao, Iloilo, en-
forcing the law is a walk in the park.
It’s as easy as preventing crime, or aresting
a jaywalker on the street— apprehend the
violator, file appropriate charges in court and
presto, the problem is solved.
Solving the garbage problem, however, is
a totally different thing.
With the growing number of people that
goes with Miagao’s booming economy, play-
ing host to thousands of students and pil-
grims -- from all over the world, that is –
garbage, or disposing them properly, has be-
come a compelling problem.
For Flores, the challenge is not just to
keep the town neat, but be “zero-waste” or
To solve the problem, Flores said he has
two options: Use police power to implement
Republic Act 9003, otherwise known as the By JONATHAN RONQUILLO
Solid Waste Management Act, or come up
with creative ways to sway the people to be done by the government alone. Citizens must garbage problem has prompted local officials
part of the solution, rather than the problem. work with the government and the govern- to turn to what it now described as “solu-
He chose the latter. ment must make the citizens see that these tions” to the problem of waste.
“Making Miagao zero-waste cannot be projects can indeed work,” he said. Miagao, in fact, is going organic in doing
According to Flores, it is not a matter of so, and thanks to biotechnology, it is close to
enacting new municipal ordinances, noting achieving its goal of becoming a “zero-waste”
Mayor that a law on proper waste disposal is well in town.
Flores place. The local government of Miagao is now
“What we need are actions that define promoting technologies such as
the clear roles that the government and the vermiculture, vermicomposting, makes use of
citizens must play for effi- biofertilizers and produces biogas out of the
cient solid-waste manage- collected garbage. They are wasting literally
ment to work,” he said. nothing to solve the problem of wastes.
While in most “We started implementing our solid waste
towns, the challenge of management program by setting up our ma-
increasing agricultural terials-recovery facility (MRF) to segregate
productivity com- biodegradable and nonbiodegradable waste.
pelled local officials Since we are already into composting at that
to turn to bio- time, we did not have problems with the bio-
technology, degradable waste at first. Our main problem
M i a g a o’s was on what to do with all the plastics we
have collected in our MRF,” he said.
However, as population grew,
Miagao’s solid-waste manage-
ment program soon became in-
sufficient. Flores said they later
realized that even the town’s
composting facility could not cope
with the volume of biodegradable
waste they collect every day.
The problem, he said, was ag-
gravated by the fact that the citi-
zens became dependent on the
collection efforts of the local gov-
“That was the time when we de-
cided that we needed to get them more in-
26 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
by the local government could be used in a
variety of vegetable crops which Miagao is
famous for, like sitaw, okra, kadyos and even
Flores said they acquired a melting ma-
chine from the Department of Science and
Technology (DOST) that they use to re-
The plastics they collect were melted and
used for various applications outdoors, and
were useful as tiles for gardens and even in
The city government is planning to
manufacture pots, chairs, tables and other
bigger items once they acquire a bigger melt-
The machine is run by fuel that comes
from biogas or methane produced from the
municipality’s vermi-composting facilities,
“We don’t buy any input in using this
melting machine. It’s a stand-alone machine,”
To encourage the people to cooperate, the
municipal government of Miagao is giving
away free vegetable seeds to households that
put up compost pits in their backyards that
use only organic and biofertilizers.
This, Flores said, boosts their effort to
manage solid waste and at the same time
complement their municipality’s nutrition
Business permits, he said, are issued only
after the company or individual applying for
the permit agrees to plant trees in a particular
area. The trees are for free, he said.
Marriage and other licenses are not issued
volved and we needed to draw-up a plan on market were very helpful, he said. unless the applicants undergo a series of train-
how to reduce biodegradable waste at the Flores said although the project is on its ing and seminars on solid-waste management.
household level,” he said. early stage, they are producing biofertilizers Municipal and barangay employees are also
One of the decisions was to collect only which they sell to local farmers at a much required to have backyard vegetable gardens
nonbiodegradable waste, and all households lower price compared to chemical fertilizers. that are periodically checked.
should put up compost pits in their back- Biofertilizers, he said, are also being used “All these measures intend to instill a sense
yards for their biodegradable waste. on the municipal nursery and demonstration of responsibility among the people, which is
The compost, he pointed out, can serve farms. the key to making our projects successful,”
as farm inputs for plots. Raymundo Monroy, municipal agricul- he said.
“I asked barangay officials to monitor the ture officer of Miagao said at first, farmers are According to Flores, local government
implementation of this plan. Many families hesistant in using biofertilizers, apparently fear- units (LGUs) must find ways and means to
cooperated but we cannot say that there was ing that their farms’ productivity will suffer. improve their localities on their own.
100 percent compliance,” he said. However, he said farmers realized that it “LGUs should not rely on the national
Flores said since the composting facility is wise to use biofertilizers because despite government. The problem of shortage of re-
of the municipal government was not achiev- the reduced yield, the savings allow them to sources will always be there but still, there are
ing the desired results, they coordinated with realize an increase in net income. ways to carry out projects although some-
the University of the Philippines-Visayas to He added that it takes some time before times, in a limited way,” he said.
help them start vermiculture and land that is used to heavy chemical fertilizers According to Flores, what is important is
vermicomposting. can recover and flush out the chemicals that to start trying different ways to sustain the
According to Flores, the materials for the have accumulated in the soil. projects. In the end, he said, such projects will
project mainly came from the collected waste. Unlike chemical fertilizers that are crop- benefit the people who will eventually become
Rotting vegetables and fruits from the local specific, he said the biofertilizers produced part of the solution, rather than the problem.
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 27
VIVIENDO’s Paulo Mamangun Jr.
HY venture into the business of producing obviously needed in cooking to extract oil from coconut milk.
coconut products? “That’s impossible. The only way you can produce coconut oil
Why not? is by heating the coconut milk,” Mamangun said.
In 1982, a group of young scientists belonging to The scientists laughed at him and told him, it’s possible.
Environmental Systems Associates (ESA) used to sit down over a “How?” Mamangun asked.
few bottles of beer every Friday afternoon talking about what was “That you have to find out for yourself,” the scientist said.
literally in the headlines of the newspapers. “So when I went back home in Lumban, I started experiment-
One time, the group was talking about the rejection by a ing. And it’s true. I was able to produce coconut oil without using
European country of a shipment of coconuts from the Philippines. heat. When I separated the oil, I produced the first virgin coconut
The news had a chilling effect to the country’s agricultural sector, oil (VCO),” he said.
particularly coconut farmers. More than 20 years after, Mamangun owns and manages his
They were talking about what the government needs to do and own company, the first Filipino company producing coco-based
were exchanging views, as if they were the government trying to and VCO-based products at that-- Viviendo Philippines, Inc.
solve a crisis. Viviendo is the pioneer in cold processed virgin coconut oil and
One man, the only nonscientist in the group, took it lightly virgin coconut oil-based personal care products.
and cracked a joke… “Bakit hindi na lang lutuin iyang gata niyan. “They are scientists. Ako, I’m not a scientist. Iyong trabaho ko,
Mayroon na tayong mantika, mayroon pa tayong latik.” nung araw, I was their economist. Ano man iyong findings or
Everybody looked at the man. anything, I would attach the best value to that. Batuhan sila ng
It was Paulo P. Mamangun Jr., an economist and a non-UPLB batuhan ng suggestion. Bakit hindi na lang natin gatain at iluto
graduate at that, talking sense with his joke about agriculture. iyong coconut. Mayroon na tayong langis, may latik pa tayo,”
“At that time, I was joking,” says Mamangun, a graduate of BS Mamangun said.
Economics at the Ateneo de Manila University. He said he tried almost everything to produce oil out of
One of the scientists agreed and said it was a bright idea. coconut milk without using heat.
However, the scientist said with the country facing energy crisis, “Mayroon iyong nilagyan ko ng asukal, asin, hugas bigas. It turned
there was a need to produce oil without using energy, which is out, pwede nga. That started the whole technology,” he said.
28 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
Mamangun said he simply put the coconut milk inside the According to him, Viviendo’s coco sugar is inverted sugar,
refrigerator and presto! The oil, the virgin oil, is separated. which is best for people with diabetes.
“Then ang tawag du’n water-clean oil,” he said. Today, Viviendo is exporting to the US a sizeable volume of its
With a P100,000 capital investment, he put up his own products.
company – Coco Agri-Ventures - and started producing VCO. The company also sells their products in Korea, Japan,
A year later, the company decided to commercialize their product. Singapore and Malaysia.
However, selling VCO at that time was tough. The company, according to him, only has 38 personnel at
Despite the technology, Mamangun was faced with the most. When the demand is low, the number dips to 15 people.
problem of selling the product. Mamangun said there’s no secret in running a small business.
“Hindi namin maibenta-benta dahil hindi kilala. I was selling “We treat it professionally. It is now a family corporation. Ang
more vinegar than virgin coconut oil,” he said. members ko iyong mga bata. My wife is active in the management
At that time, he said people needed to be educated. of the company.”
According to Mamangun, nobody was paying attention to According to him, every start of the year, he asks his children:
coconut oil products, not knowing that coconut oil has many How do you picture Viviendo five years from now?
health benefits. “Ang tingin nila, langis lang iyon,” he said. “Iyong unang meeting namin in 2005, one of the kids said we
Despite that, he said experimentation continues. want to see a Viviendo billboard in a prominent place in Metro
“I had several options in 1984. I invited some friends and we Manila. Iyon ang vision niya. A few months ago, wala pa iyong
went commercial,” he said. billboard na iyon, sabi ng isang anak ko, I think it is possible now
Eventually, however, the company had to stop operation owing to see a billboard outside the country,” he said.
to poor sales in 1986. He cited as reason the Filipino’s failure to “It all depends. If we help each other, then we can do it, iyon
appreciate the medical benefits of coconut-based products, ang sabi ko sa kanila,” he said.
particularly the VCO. Asked why venture into business and why coconut, he asked
He also said there was propaganda being launched by soya back “Why not?”
producers in the US, which made it doubly hard for the coconut- “Among the agricultural products that we have, coconut ay
based products to sell even in the domestic market. iyong pinakalamalaking pakinabang in terms of exports. It looks
However, the research and development aspect, continued. na maski ganu’n ang sitwasyon, from an economic point of view,
“Ang research ang nag-continue mga anak ko. Ginawa nilang the coconut export, hindi ganu’n kasaya iyong involved diyan,
science projects nila,” he said. primarily iyong coconut farmers. Iyon ang advocacy
In 2003, when news about the health benefits ng Viviendo, to do what it can to help the farmers,”
from VCO is driving the market crazy, Mamangun he said.
said it was time to rise and shine. He said the company is also looking forward to
Mamangun put up a new com- producing biofuel in the future. However,
pany, Viviendo Philippines, Inc., a he said, it all depends on the market
family corporation run by him, his wife situation.
and six children. “Biofuels technology can only survive
According to Mamangun, the sudden if the cost of production becomes lower
growth of the VCO industry was than that of fossil fuels,” he said.
triggered by the pronouncement of Right now, he said, he would rather
former Department of Health Secretary focus on health supplements and
Conrado Dayrit-- that coconut oil can personally care products, which he
be a possible cure for the dreaded Severe Acute claimed is another proud Filipino “first.”
Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). “You have to remember, first time na gumamit ng cold
Transformation of the product started the same year, he said. process technology ay ako. Walang nag-commercial production
“We joined the celebration of Coconut Week. We launched the during the 80s kung hindi ako lang. All our products are VCOs.
VCO made by Viviendo,” he said. You preserve the quality of the oil through cold process. It has a lot
“Matagal ang education process du’n sa coconut oil,” he said. of benefits to the body,” he said.
According to him, after the boom of the VCO industry, Viviendo is planning to expand to produce more and meet the
Viviendo started making massage oil – Body Oil. growing demand.
“Itong massage oil, una dalawang klase lang iyan. Invigorating According to Mamangun, two months ago, he signed a joint
at saka soothing. Invigorating peps you up at iyong soothing makes venture with another company to put up a VCO plant in Dolores,
you relax. After that coconut week, we started production. Quezon that can produce 10,000 liters.
“Now, we have 39 product lines,” he said. “Our plant today in Las Piñas produces only between 3,000
True enough, Viviendo had those products and all of them and 5,000 bottles. Kung mabuksan iyong second plant sa Dolores,
guaranteed as VCO-based. Quezon, itong sa Las Piñas concentrate na lang sa beauty prod-
Name it. Body balm, soap, lotion, shampoo or lipstick. ucts,” he said.
Viviendo also have coco jam, jelly, sugar and tea. These products, Is venturing into the coconut business a joke?
he proudly says, are Filipino products. The man who cracked a joke about it but took it seriously
“Iyong coconut tea at iyong coconut jam– ref atin iyan. Iyong afterwards is now laughing his way to the bank. (Jonathan
sugar, may medical benefit. In cooperation with PCA iyan,” he said. Mayuga)
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 29
ITH the passing of the Biofuels
Act of 2006 by the bicameral
committee, local and foreign in-
vestment is expected to pour in, as the de-
mand for bioethanol and biodiesel is expected
Described by lawmakers as the most ex-
citing peace of legislation Congress had come
up so far, the Biofuels Act promotes the use
of ethanol and diesel derived from plants –
specifically sugarcane for bioethanol and coco-
methyl ester (CME) for biodiesel.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino
Pimentel Jr. said the passage of the bill is likely
to hit two birds with one stone by cutting
the country’s dependence on imported fossil
fuel and cleaning the air Filipinos breathe.
This early, the senator said at least 12 lo-
cal and foreign companies have already ex-
pressed the desire to pour in substantial
amount of investment for the production of
Investors are also eyeing the production
of other sources of biofuel such as jathropa or
tuba-tuba, corn and sweet sorghum, which is
being supported by the government as part
of its plan to boost the agriculture sector.
Senator. Richard J. Gordon, co-author
and co-sponsor the measure expressed ela-
tion over the passing of the bill, noting that
the measure will promote the use of alterna-
tive renewable energy sources, particularly
biofuels, which would benefit the country
tremendously, as it would not only open
business opportunities that would benefit the
country’s agriculture sector, create jobs and
livelihood, but will protect the public health
and environment as well.
The act mandates the use of biofuels by
blending five percent bioethanol with gaso-
line within two years from the effectivity of
the act and one percent biodiesel with diesel
within three months from the effectivity of
The influx of investors in the biofuels
industry that would spur agro-industrial de-
velopment is expected with the mandate of
the act, says Gordon.
Likewise, Gordon says other industries
such as the alternative vehicle industry would
Biofuels Act to
benefit from the passage of the Act.
The most debatable provision that caused
much discussion was the transition provision
in the Senate version that specifies land use
for sugarcane cultivation, says Pimentel,
which was hurdled by the bicameral confer-
He said the bicameral conference com-
mittee has hammered out a compromise by
30 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
reiterating the mandate of the Sugar Regula- Unleaded gasoline costs P37.24 per liter, The landmark legislation is expected to
tory Administration (SRA) to ensure adequate and bioethanol or E10 costs about the same liberate the country’s transport sector from
supply of sugar for domestic use, as the pas- at P32 to P34, but the latter has a higher full dependence on imported fuel.
sage of the law will likely increase demand for octane rating. Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla wel-
raw materials – namely sugarcane and coco- In Brazil, U.S. and Europe, fuel ethanol comed the approval saying that the law will
nut – the source of ethanol and diesel that costs P12 – P46 per liter. provide the needed environment for the de-
are widely accepted by most countries, in- Ethanol production cost in our country, velopment of our local biofuels industry.
cluding the Philippines, so far. depending on feedstock, is P16 – P56 per “We will attract more investors and we
Chemrez, for one, had already made its liter, compared with the estimated cost of will be able to develop this new industry more
initial public offering and is expected to ex- unleaded gasoline at around P32. rapidly as we shift to more indigenous fuels
pand the production of its coco-based diesel. The lady lawmaker said the mandatory in response to the uncertainty of the world’s
The senior lawmaker expressed optimism 5-percent blend of bioethanol will save the energy supply. This bill will build new in-
that the local coconut and sugar cane indus- country $160 million annually. A 10 per- dustries, new domestic markets, new invest-
tries will benefit from the imminent passage cent blend in the fourth year will save the ments, new local expertise,” the secretary said
of the Biofuels Act, as the biofuel compo- country $354 million. in a statement.
nents will be sourced from local farmers. In the prewar period, bioethanol was used The bill also provides incentives for the
Ford, for one, has taken the bold step of extensively in Germany, Brazil, the Philip- producers and manufacturers of local biofuels
establishing the Philippines as its ASEAN pines, and the United States. for blending into petroleum fuels. For in-
Center of Excellence for Flex Fuel Technol- The top three bioethanol producers in stance, biofuels producers are already assured
ogy through the manufacture of the first flex the world are Brazil, U.S., and Japan. It is of a mandated market for their product, spe-
fuel vehicle and an additional investment of also used extensively in India and Thailand. cific tax exemption and financial assistance
a P1.1 billion to build the first flex fuel en- In February 2004, President Arroyo is- from government financial institutions.
gine manufacturing facility in ASEAN. sued Memorandum Circular No. 55 making The secretary also stressed that it would
Experts said aside from having a clean it compulsory for government agencies to use not be difficult and costly to blend biofuels
alternative energy, the use of biofuels would 1 percent coco-biodiesel. into gasoline and diesel since the bioethanol
also have a positive impact on the fluctuating Since its use by government agencies, and biodiesel blends would not require en-
price of gasoline and diesel for consumers. there has been positive feedback on engine gine modifications.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair- performance. Blends of unleaded gasoline and ethanol
man of the Senate’s energy committee, said Nearly all countries in the world are now may also be used in motorcycles, pump boats,
the Biofuels Act will require some 5.2 million using biodiesel, notably Australia, Malaysia, hand tractors, and old vehicles without en-
registered vehicle owners to use biofuel be- Indonesia, Thailand, India and Japan. gine modification, provided that the ethanol
fore the yearend. Biodiesel studies have been made in the content is not greater than 10 percent.
The Biofuels Act mandates owners to Philippines by the U.S. Department of En- The bill imposes the penalty of impris-
use two kinds of biofuel: Bioethanol or E10 ergy, in cooperation with DOE, and by Nihon onment from one to five years with a fine of
from sugarcane, as an additive to gasoline; University of Japan, in cooperation with Tech- P1 million to P5 million for those selling sub-
and Biodiesel or B1 from coconut, as an nological University of the Philippines (TUP). standard or underblended biofuels and
additive to diesel. Various coco-diesel producers have also mislabeled biofuels products.
Santiago said that the bill orders immedi- conducted a number of separate studies. Initial estimates show that a 1 percent
ate compulsory use, because the two fuel In March 2006, the Chamber of Auto- displacement of petroleum based-diesel will
blends require no engine modification for ei- mobile Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. earn foreign exchange savings for the coun-
ther diesel or gasoline engines. (CAMPI) said that it is prepared for a 1 per- try of about US$25 million while for
Biofuels are simply blended with regular cent biodiesel mandate. bioethanol, a 5 percent blend will result in
fuel, in the same way that additives are now CAMPI is a member of the World Wide foreign exchange savings of about US$179
being added to existing fuel, the legislators Fuel Charter Committee, which represents million and a 10% blend will mean gasoline
said during a privilege speech in the Senate. automobile and engine manufacturers world- displacement of some 565 million liters, ap-
On the other hand, bioethanol will be wide. The world organization has issued the proximately US$396 million of foreign ex-
blended at 5 percent per volume into all gaso- World Wide Charter (WWC). change savings per year.
line fuels, within two years from the effectiv- The WWC has been signed by over 40 Lotilla expressed his gratitude to the Sen-
ity of the Act. Further, bioethanol will be automobile manufacturers around the world, ate leadership especially to the Senate Com-
blended at 10 percent within four years from who guarantee that engines will work well mittee on Energy Chaired by Senator Miriam
effectivity of the Act. with the WWC blend of up to 10 percent Defensor Santiago who has been very sup-
Biodiesel will be blended to 1 percent bioethanol and up to five percent biodiesel. portive of the bill. He also cited the leader-
volume into all diesel fuels, immediately upon Liability for product quality will be as- ship at the House of Representatives for pass-
effectivity of the Implementing Rules and sumed by biofuel producers and oil compa- ing their version of the Biofuels Bill early on.
Regulations, to be issued by the Department nies who shall be monitored by DOE for Legislators, private sector, environmental-
of Energy, through the Biofuel Board. compliance with the Philippine National Stan- ists, farmers, research agencies, funding insti-
Within two years from the effectivity of dard crafted by a committee composed of tutions and consumers see this bill as a crucial
the Act, the Biofuel Board will mandate a 2- executive departments, oil companies, step in bringing radical changes to achieve
percent blend of biodiesel by volume. CAMPI, and academe. energy self-sufficiency.
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 31
Microbes in our food From page 11
would taste so bland. Soy sauce is an oriental fermented food, a dark-
colored, salty, tangy sauce used on dishes. The mold, Aspergillus
oryzae is added to soybeans after which the mold-coated beans are
From camote cue
placed in liquid and salt. The liquid resulting from long-term fermen-
F LATE, we
tation is the soy sauce which gives flavor to our food. heard the news
The name vinegar comes from the French vin (wine) and aigre the Philippine
(sour). Vinegar is essentially sour or spoiled wine. Vinegar making Congress Bicameral
involves two steps carried out by microbes: First, Saccharomyces Panel has approved
cerevisiae ferments sugar to alcohol and second, Acetobacter aceti the passage of the
Biofuels Act of 2006.
converts alcohol to acetic acid.
This law, when
And if you have passion for chocolates and coffee, you must be implemented, shall
interested to know that certain microbes help during the processing require the mixture of
of cacao and coffee beans. The pulpy covering of coffee beans are best locally produced ethanol with gasoline for use in motors and engines sold in
removed before roasting by certain bacteria and molds after which the Philippines.
the beans are ready to be dried and hulled. To quote Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri of Bukidnon, “We have the means
Chocolate comes from cacao, a bean also covered with a fruity to ride on the alternative fuels boom. We have 2.4 million hectares
pulp which is removed by fermentation. And this necessarily in- planted to corn, 3.2 million hectares to coconut, 390,000 hectares to
volves yeasts and bacteria. The process serves to remove adhering sugarcane, 330,000 to cassava and camote,” and “If we don’t have oil
pulp from the bean and gives the characteristic aroma, flavor and to drill, then we must grow oil from our soil. The lambanog that causes
drunk driving can also run cars. Cassava is best not just as pie but petrol.
color of chocolates.
And corn that can be made into healthy breakfast can also fuel our cars,”
So the next time you take a sip of your favorite coffee or munch a dark he said.
chocolate, you can think of and thank our good allies- the microbes. Biofuel as defined is a fuel derived from living things or their metabolic
**** by-products. Science tells us that biofuel is a renewable energy source not
Louis Pasteur, one of the fathers of microbiology, once said, “The like other sources like petroleum, coal, and those sources from nuclear
role of the infinitely small in nature is infinitely large.” Now, you can energy.
believe that microbes play an important and often dominant role in The first biofuel that comes into my mind is the biogas produced form
our daily life - not only in medicines that we take and in cleaning up livestock manure. If my memory serves me right, then (I am not sure if it is
the environment but also in the food that we eat. still operating) Maya Farms uses biogas for the kitchen of the households in
the farm. This, I know, is the first known use of biogas.
Moving closer towards.... From page 5 Other Sources
There are also some other sources of biofuel and these are plant crops
According to Serrano, current programs such as the formation of formal like corn, soybeans, sugarcane, palm and coconut oil. These crops produce
partnership between the DA and various sectors, including the local govern- oils and sugar.
ment, barangays, private sector, academe, scientific community, farmers, Going back to the statement of Rep. Zubiri, sweet potato and cassava
farmers’ organizations and non-government organizations (NGOs) in various were mentioned as sources of biofuel. The potential therefore of growing
parts of the country called Biotechnology Information and Organization Net- fuel than drilling is true.
work (BIONet) and Biotechnology Commerce or BioCommerce are in the works. But why rootcrops? Isn’t it that the Philippine Coconut Authority
BIONets support the advocacy on biotech by being the conduits of informa- (PCA) has an on-going research on the use of coco diesel? Isn’t it that
tion on its economic opportunities. It is expected to become key drivers of sugarcane is the best source of sugar for alcohol production? What about
investments cooperation, for the benefit of the local agri-fisheries sector. other indigenous plants like tuba-tuba (Jatropha curcus), hanga
BIONets have been established in Bulacan, Mindoro, Caraga, and Marawi City. (Pittosporum resineferum) that are known to produce oils?
A Biotechnology Business Cooperation Papain Consortium has been cre- Why rootcrops? The answer is simple: Rootcrops are rich in carbohy-
ated through the assistance of the DA BIONet – which is expected to boost drates which can be broken down into alcohol through the process of
export of papain coming from the Philippines. fermentation. My article for this date shall dwell on sweet potato and
Presently, the DA is also facilitating the formation of BIONet in Cebu, cassava varieties and their known qualities that can be used as reference
Iloilo, Antique, Davao, Lanao del Norte, and Nueva Vizcaya. for calculating the amount of sugar and alcohol that can be derived if such
varieties are to be used as other sources of biofuels.
A national goal Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) locally known as camote belongs to
“In my experience, field operations are always a challenge. The most family Convulvulaceae. The plant is an herbaceous vine and it produces
challenging job is how to strike a balance among various interests of various starchy and sweet tuberous roots. Roots are large, long, and tapered with
sectors at the field. But we believe that with good relationship, balanced color ranges of white, yellow, orange, brown and purple, although some
negotiation and right incentive, this can be addressed,” Paras said. varieties may produce other root colors. The young leaves of the vine plants
Paras said there is a need to strengthen the DA’s monitoring system to are eaten as green salad.
ensure that what is being done in the field is consistent with the national goals The government though the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC)of the
– which is to improve the lives of the Filipino people, in general. Department of Agriculture (DA) has accredited some sweet potato
“This is also a challenge for us at the main office. And I think the major varieties. And here is the list with their varietal characteristics, which are
challenge for us Filipinos will also be our greatest weapon in this biotech important in assessing the potential use for alcohol.
century-to have the right attitude towards change, biotech revolution, and
national development,” he said.
32 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
Variety Name and Breeder Estimated Dry matter Sugar Raja 1 or CG95-02-04 29.00 36.40 low
Yield in content content CMP 62-15, Philippine Rootcrop
an open field (%) (%) Research and Training Center 30.40 34.80 22.80 low
(tons/hectare) CMP 21-15, Philippine Rootcrop
UPL Sp-7, UPLB College of Agriculture 11.10 35.50 3.70 Research and Training Center 35.40 33.00 20.30 low
UPL Sp-8, UPLB College of Agriculture 12.20 31.40 5.90 CMP 32-10, Philippine Rootcrop
UPL Sp-9, UPLB College of Agriculture 12.00 32.50 3.02 Research and Training Center 33.60 33.40 20.80 low
UPL Sp-10, UPLB College of Agriculture 13.48 30.50 10.80 LSU White or SM 808-1,
UPL Sp-11, UPLB College of Agriculture 16.30 32.90 Philippine Rootcrop Research
UPL Sp-12, UPLB College of Agriculture 15.90 29.00 2.50 and Training Center 29.80 34.90 22.90 low
UPL Sp-14 UPLB College of Agriculture 13.00 33.00 2.80 SM 972-20,
UPL Sp-16, UPLB College of Agriculture 13.40 31.80 2.56 UPLB College of Agriculture 30.60 34.60 low
LG 19A-10, BPI-La Granja NCRDC 11.08 31.73 6.13 LSU Hi-Starch or SM 818-1,
LSU Purple, Philippine Rootcrop Research Philippine Rootcrop Research
and Training Center 11.68 36.00 4.07 and Training Center 28.2 38.4 27.60 moderate
LSU White, Philippine Rootcrop Research LSU Hi-Dry or KU 50,
and Training Center 14.62 34.07 3.88 Philippine Rootcrop Research
LSU Light Orange, Philippine Rootcrop and Training Center 31.3 38.00 27.00 moderate
Research and Training Center 13.42 31.71 3.47 OMR 33-12-3,
Bengueta, Benguet State University 8.51 33.8 3.70 Philippine Rootcrop Research
Source: National Seed Industry Council and Training Center 26.10 38.5 28.50 moderate
Cassava (Manihot esculenta) belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. This is a Philippine Rootcrop Research
major source of carbohydrate or starch. In our country, it is known as and Training Center 24.10 38.00 27.20 moderate
kamoteng kahoy and balinghoy. This plant has long and tapered edible roots OMR 36-05-09,
whose flesh in encased with a detachable peel or rind. The root’s flesh are Philippine Rootcrop Research
often white and yellow. The roots are very rich in starch and has low protein and Training Center 29.10 40.10 27.00 low
content, but the leaves are high in in protein. Source: National Seed Industry Council
The varieties that have earned accreditation by the government are as follows: Some reminders are in order before anyone plants or shifts to planting
sweet potato and cassava. Some considerations in my mind are the land
Variety Name and Breeder Estimated Dry matter Starch Hydrocyanic area sizes to be planted with these rootcrops. Of course, the farmer has to
Yield in content content acid rating identify the variety to be planted that will give the potential yield needed to
an open field (%) (%) produce the amount of alcohol needed by the alcohol manufacturers. Second
(tons/hectare) is the initial amount of planting materials that will be used. Third is the
Lakan 2 or UPL Cv-6, farmer-producer tie-up scheme. I am not imposing that these are problems,
UPLB College of Agriculture 28.80 32.50 low what I am pointing at is that before we start cultivating these crops, the
Lakan 3 or SM972-20, farmer should be first apprised of the hectarage and yield requirements and
UPLB College of Agriculture 30.60 34.60 low that he would be assured of a market for his produce.
Lakan 4 or UPL Cv-10, Another thing in mind is the engine and motor manufacturing industry
UPLB College of Agriculture 35.90 35.9 26.9 low ready for the shift of mixture of the traditional fuel with biofuel? Would the
Sultan 3 or CG87-03-01, present engines and machines operate smoothly if the gasoline to be used is
UPLB College of Agriculture 34.5 34.5 22.6 moderate blended with plant-produced alcohol? If the answers tell us, yes, engines and
Sultan 4 or CG87-02-13, motors are ready and would have no technical problem, then we are seeing a
UPLB College of Agriculture 39.9 32.6 22.6 moderate sunshine industry for biofuels.
Sultan 5 or CG91-13-03, Actually, there are still some considerations, and they range from plant
UPLB College of Agriculture 34.20 35.60 20.90 moderate cultivation to marketing. In between this link is technology regarding
Sultan 6 or CG91-08-05, rootcrop and alcohol production. These things also need more scrutiny.
UPLB College of Agriculture 39.10 35.00 moderate Bright future is indeed seen in line with the breeders and or the seed or
Sultan 7 or CG91-41-01, planting material producers. Should we be able to develop a comprehensive,
UPLB College of Agriculture 37.90 34.80 22.8 moderate workable, and realistic biofuel program, then, there shall be more production
Datu 2 or CM9158-4, and market for cassava and sweet potato. The other industrial use of these
UPLB College of Agriculture 37.20 39.10 27.10 moderate crops would be tapped and enhanced that may give birth to a new sunshine
CM 3419-2a, industry in the agriculture sector. Going back to the biofuel program, if such
UPLB College of Agriculture 28.80 32.5 low would be crafted, we see a scenario where the academe, the seed industry,
CM 3422-1, the government agencies, farmers, scientists working together finding an
UPLB College of Agriculture 30.9 35.9 26.9 low alternative options in addressing the energy problems of our nation.
(Dr. Vivencio Mamaril is a member of the BPI-Biotechnology Core Team.)
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 33
Tony Antonio accepts the Institutional Category Award for The Manila Bulletin.
Winners in the Jose G. Burgos Jr.
Awards for Biotech Journalism
R EPORTERS from the Philippine STAR and Manila Bulletin
dominated the Jose G. Burgos Jr. Awards for Biotech
Journalism, or the Second Gawad Galing for Biotech Journalism,
life: Use your coconut.”
The Institutional Award went to Manila Bulletin, Philippine
STAR and BusinessMirror for first, second and third places,
which awarding ceremonies were held at Club Filipino in respectively.
Greenhills, San Juan, on Wednesday, November 8. The Best News Story and Best Feature Story awards won P30,
Philippine STAR reporter Rocel Felix bagged the first and 000, P20, 000 and P10, 000 cash prizes for the first, second and
second prizes in the Best News Story award for her stories third prizes, respectively, and plaques. The finalists and Institu-
“SaltUNO or Molobicus: A saline-tolerant tilapia breed” and tional Award received plaques of recognition.
“Better laws seen to spur biotech commercialization,” respectively. The awards were spearheaded by the Biotech for Life Media
Momoy Cardenas of Manila Bulletin garnered the third prize for Advocacy Resource Center (BMARC), which includes the
his story “RP’s iron-rich rice harvested for the first time in Laguna Department of Agriculture, Biotech Coalition of the Philippines
town.” (BCP), SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center (BIC), J.
Manila Bulletin’s Melody Aguiba received the first prize in the Burgos Media Services Inc., and the Philippine Council for
Best Feature Award for her story “First cloned carabao expected Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources and Development
next year.” The second prize went to Celeste Llaneta of the (PCARRD-DOST).
Philippine STAR for her article “Going alternative: A look at some This year’s members of the board of judges are Prof. Luis
fuel alternatives,” while the third prize was awarded to Felix for her Teodoro of the University of the Philippines College of Mass
article “Dr. Saturnina Halos: Scientist steps out of her comfort zone Communication (chairman), engineer Yvonne Agustin of the
to become an entrepreneur.” United Coconut Associations of the Philippines, Dr. Virginia
The finalists for Best News Story were Felix for “Scientists turn Enriquez of the Philippine Council for Advanced Science and
to biotech to save ailing seaweed industry” and Jennifer Ng of Technology Research and Development of the DOST, Atty.
BusinessWorld for “RP pushes biopiracy in IPR talks.” Antonio Jamon Jr. of the Nationwide Association of consumers
The finalists for Best Feature Story were Dave Llorito of Inc. and Dr. Evelyn Mae Mendoza, Academician at the National
BusinessMirror for “Change oil”, Cher Jimenez of BusinessMirror Academy of Science and Technology and Research professor at the
for “Filipino discovers gene causing hypertension” and Ma. Ceres Institute of Plant Breeding, College of Agriculture, University of
Doyo of Philippine Daily Inquirer for “Dr. Conrado Dayrit Rx for the Philippines Los Banos.
34 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006
R&D–Keeping Filipino industries
well into the Future
RECENTLY received an invitation to On the other hand, R & D career oppor-
join a roundtable discussion on the man tunities in the private sector are very few. This
power needs for biotechnology in the limits the capacity for innovation among Fili-
country. Unfortunately I was scheduled to pino companies as well as their capacity to com-
travel that week and I was not able to attend pete in the world market. Biotechnology com-
then. But the invitation set me into thinking panies elsewhere spend the first few years of
and discussing with some colleagues about their existence in R & D using venture capital.
the dearth of scientific manpower especially Unfortunately, venture capital appears to be a
in modern biotechnology in the country. technology in the country. relatively new concept in this country.
When the question of dearth in scientific This is where government policy should Hence, there has to be a creative way to
manpower arises, the traditional solution of- focus – creating career opportunities in mod- promote R & D in the private sector. In addi-
fered by government is to establish scholar- ern biotechnology. Scientific careers flourish tion to incentives, perhaps we should require
ship programs for students in science and tech- within university settings especially with the companies with annual gross incomes of at
nology. Grantees of S & T scholarship pro- current policy of the Commission on Higher least P100 Million to invest at least 5% to R &
grams sign contracts that they will work within Education of requiring research outputs from D focused on developing new products/pro-
the granting institution or within the country faculty members, in public R & D institu- cess or design new systems. There should be
for a specified number of years after gradua- tions and in the R & D units of private cor- no exception to this rule including
tion. To prepare high school students for ca- porations. Setting up R & D institutions transnational companies. I was told that Canada
reers in S & T we have also established science however is not sufficient. More importantly requires transnational pharmaceutical compa-
high schools all over the country. These high is creating the right environment for scien- nies to establish R & D units in that country.
school graduates are encouraged to pursue uni- tific research to flourish. Innovation in technology and design is
versity programs in science and technology. Scientific research flourishes in institutions the only strategy left for us to keep our in-
There is no dearth of university degree where research output is the primary basis dustrial sector competitive. For we no longer
programs for science and technology where for career advancement. In a rapidly evolving hold the cheap labor and materials that started
students can enroll. For modern biotechnol- experimental science like biotechnology, re- us in the industry but we do abound with
ogy, however, there are currently three. The search output however depends much on the Filipinos with bright, innovative ideas and
oldest program offering BS, MS and PhD institutional support provided by its admin- willingness, tenacity and hard work to pur-
degrees is the Molecular Biology and Bio- istration. The facilities must be topnotch – sue their dreams. Neither could we rely on
technology Program at UP Diliman. This pro- state of the art equipment, reliable supply of the usual government protection and subsi-
gram has graduated an average of 20 stu- electricity, good water supply and most of all dies, given the WTO and GATT. We are told
dents per year since 1990. Hence for the past timely supply of high quality reagents. Exist- the furniture companies that are currently
16 years, we should have at least 300 well- ing government rules on procurement work surviving in the world market are those with
trained modern biotechnology graduates in against this need. The requirement for bid- innovative designs. Splash, the Filipino com-
the country. Where are they now? Most have ding to obtain the cheapest equipment and pany that has taken away a major portion of
gone into medicine and some in scientific re- reagents work against procuring the best the cosmetics market from transnationals has
search. Those who have gone into research equipment and supplies for research. Reli- done so with innovative products based on
are active not here in the country but in the able supply of electricity and good water is R & D. The beverage market that used to be
USA. The lone exception is Dr. Celia Torres difficult to come by in certain areas of the dominated by Coke and Pepsi is now frac-
Villanueva, molecular immunologist, current country, thereby restricting the places where tured into fruit juices and the suddenly popu-
vice chancellor for R & D at UP Diliman. a biotech R & D institution can be located. lar green tea-based drink, C-2. On the other
Why medicine and for those who pur- In addition to the working environment, hand, what can real estate companies invest
sued scientific careers, why in the USA? It a system to award the most productive and on? Systems that make for more energy effi-
seems no one has realized that the dearth of most innovative scientists must be in place. cient homes, better sewage systems, environ-
scientific manpower in the country is not due The scientific career system for public insti- ment-friendly building materials, the list goes
to lack of interest among the young but more tutions has been designed for this intention. on. With the world increasingly shrinking
from lack of career opportunities especially in Although a number of scientists have been into a global village, Filipino industries have
biotechnology. Hence, the solution to increas- awarded, the fact that an institution must to look towards innovation to keep afloat
ing the country’s capacity for technological look for the funds to support its own scien- making investments in R & D a must.
innovations is not just scholarship programs tists to get into the system has not made the (Dr. Saturnina Halos is the chair of the
to produce the technical manpower but to award widespread. The award after all needs Biotechnology Advisorty Team of the Depart-
create career opportunities for modern bio- additional funds for implementation. ment of Agriculture)
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006 BIO LIFE 35
36 BIO LIFE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2006