Liborio S. Cabanilla
University of the Philippines at Los Banos
The Philippines established the first National Institute of Biotechnology and Applied Microbiology in 1980. However, it was only in 2002 when Bt corn was first commercially introduced. Strong opposition by key sectors including the influential Roman Catholic Church contributed to this delay and will probably continue to affect the introduction of other GM crops in the future.
With favorable adoption rates of Bt corn, opposition dissipated and local scientific initiatives have expanded to other crops (e.g., GM papaya, eggplant). The Philippine Rice Research Institute in collaboration with IRRI is currently engaged in the adaptation of Golden Rice (biofortified for Vitamin A) but it is not clear how the polity will react to this new technology when it is ready for adoption. It is a major food staple in contrast to Bt corn. The government’s agenda also puts a high premium on food self-sufficiency, especially rice.
Key words: Biotechnology, GM food crop, biofortified crop, Golden Rice, Bt corn.