Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Possible Food Shortage in the Philippines

A bio-technology expert said the Philippines could face a food shortage if the government fails to implement a sound food security policy that encourages the use of modern, agricultural biotechnology.

Dr. Harvey Glick, senior expert for Scientific Affairs for Asia of Monsanto Asia, told members of House special committee on food security that current practices in local agriculture are not enough to satisfy the growing food requirements of the people.

As the country’s population hits 101 million, Glick said demand for food is increasing each year but agricultural production remains at 2000 levels.

He said more farmers should be trained and encouraged to use biotechnology as the method of modern plant breeding allows for the development of high yielding crops.

Glick cited a 2014 research that shows 147 other published findings on the impact of biotech crops.

Among the findings include a 22 percent increase in crop yield, 37 percent reduction in the use of pesticides, and a resulting 68 percent increase in profitability, mainly due to higher yield alongside the lowered cost of production,” Glick said.
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AAMBIS-OWA party-list Rep. Sharon Garin, chairman of the committee, said it was the first time that an expert in the field spoke to legislators on the important role of biotechnology in food security.

“We need this knowledge to decide on whether to pursue it as one of our advocacies in the 16th Congress. I gladly accepted this opportunity to hold this forum because it could enlighten us, not only the legislators, but also of other stakeholders of the potential of biotechnology and the issues it currently faces,” Garin said.

Compared with other nations in the region, the Philippines leads in allowing farmers to choose whether to use modern or conventional methods in corn farming, Glick said.

He however said the government should do more and encourage more farmers to use  modern farming methods to at least satisfy local requirements.

“I acknowledge the leadership that the Philippines has shown for being the very first country in Asean and Asia to allow their farmers the choice of using either conventional or hybrid corn. Other countries are only catching up in terms of corn production, like Indonesia and Vietnam which  have only started adopting the use of this technology,” Glick said.

He said as of last year an estimated 18 million farmers were using these new varieties of corn, soybeans, canola, and cotton that have been improved through biotechnology.

Glick  said 28 countries have already given their farmers a chance to plant these new and improved varieties.

He said food security entails sufficient nutrition for all.

“The challenges of food security in the Asean is very clear: The population is growing, and the demand for food is growing very quickly. In fact it is growing faster than the production of food crops. Farmers are requesting scientists to develop high-yielding crop hybrids that are also resistant to weeds, insectpests, and stress such as drought, in order to conserve on resources,” Glick said.

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