Bt eggplant field test
THE field testing of
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) eggplant has started in a
5,000-sq m farm at the campus of the University of
Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato.
USM, the University of the
Philippines Los Baños Foundation, Inc. (UPLB‐FI)
and the International Service for the Acquisition of
Applications (ISAAA) also reaffirmed their commitment to
pursue the tests on the fruit- and shoot borer resistant
(FSB) Bt eggplant.
During the partners’ meeting
held on March 26, 2012 at the USM campus, the three
institutions also strengthened their collaboration for
the project “Development and Commercialization of
Philippine Fruit and Shoot Borer (FSB)‐Resistant
Eggplants Containing MAHYCO Bt Eggplant Event, EE‐1:
Field Trials for Biosafety Assessment, Variety
Accreditation and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA)
UPLB-FI executive director
Dr. Cecilio R. Arboleda, USM president Dr. Jesus Antonio
G. Derije and ISAAA Global Coordinator Dr. Randy A.
Hautea signed an agreement to formalize their
Support Project (ABSP) II director Dr. Frank Shotkoski
and Bt eggplant Project Leader Dr. Desiree Hautea
witnessed the event.
Immediately, transgenic Bt
eggplants, hybrids and open pollinated varieties (OPVs),
were transplanted in the fenced and isolated field at
the USM campus.
Ms. Merle Palacpac, co‐chairwoman
of the Biotech Core Team of the Department of
Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Plant Industry and
Rakim Tantong, Plant Quarantine Service Division Chief
in Cotabato City oversaw the event.
The field trial of Bt
eggplant at USM is a milestone in public sector
It is the first field trial
of a biotech crop to be conducted at USM, a premier
state university and center of excellence in Mindanao.
officials and local executives also participated in
transplanting the transgenic crops part of the
continuing education for local government unit (LGU)
awareness of the Bt eggplant development in the country.
The DA regulators and
Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) members from USM
also met to discuss and review the biosafety permit
conditions for the field trial.
These conditions include the
200-meter radius physical isolation of the trial site
from other eggplant fields and the provision of pollen
trap plants around the field trial area.
USM IBC chairwoman Dr. Emma
Sales said that five rows of pollen trap plants were
planted around the trial site.
Derije reiterated that as
part of the university’s mandate to conduct education,
research, extension, and resource generation, USM will
support biotechnology research and conduct the multi‐location
field trial of Bt eggplant.
He said USM and the project
proponents will comply with the biosafety regulatory
guidelines and conditions under DA’s Administrative
Order No. 8 (AO8).
This order sets the rules
and regulations for the release into the environment of
plants and plant products derived from the use of modern
Sales said the generation of
facts is the main objective of the university in
conducting scientific research on Bt eggplant.
“The university does not
need profit, it needs factual information,” she
She added that the purpose
of the field trial is to determine if Bt eggplant is
indeed resistant to the destructive FSB and how it would
be beneficial to farmers and to the general public.
Sales noted that the
research is needed to prove that Bt eggplant would,
indeed, be effective and beneficial.
Many Filipino farmers have
already expressed their eagerness to plant the pest
resistant Bt eggplant.
Edwin Paraluman, a biotech
corn farmer from General Santos City, said that he is
excited to grow Bt eggplants because he knows how much
the crop would help farmers.
Speaking from experience,
Paraluman said that eggplant is more profitable than
Paraluman estimated that
profit from a hectare of eggplant farm is equivalent to
the revenues from two hectares of corn.
“If profit has increased
with Bt corn, then it would increase as well for Bt
eggplant,” he said.
Paraluman also stressed that
with Bt eggplant, farmers would be released from the
heavy reliance on the spraying of chemical pesticides.
varieties require spraying every three days to keep
pests under control.“Halos
na ako sa kaka‐spray
(“I almost passed out because of frequent insecticide
spraying”) he said.
“Borers will damage all
eggplant fruits if farmers will not spray chemical
insecticides,” said Paraluman.
With Bt eggplant technology,
the use of chemical insecticides will be reduced
significantly, thus cutting the risks to farmers,
consumers and the environment.
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