FARMERS and consumers alike should be educated of the benefits of biotechnology as this can be beneficial to the agriculture and other aspects of development of the country, said a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) official.

In response to the general current negative impression of the people against genetically modified (GM) products, DOST Davao Regional Director Anthony Sales said since GM products are not thoroughly introduced to the public, it causes fear and misunderstanding.

He added DOST and the National Academy of Science and Technology take a stand that biotechnology is beneficial to the Filipinos especially in agriculture. What he thinks is lacking is the proper education to the farmers and the consumers.

“If we really go out of our way to tell people, to inform people of what really is true about biotechnology, then I think that will address the negative impressions about the technology. One of our initiatives in DOST is really to promote, tell more people, inform more people about biotechnology. Because once they know that there is no bad effect, with the strict regulations and procedures of compliance, we will be able to address the occurrences that might happen,” Sales said.

He added the Filipinos had been eating GM products like imported soybeans which usually come from Brazil and are mainly GM. These are being used in the Philippines to make tofu and taho (soy pudding with caramelized sugar and tapioca pearls).

He also cited GM corn as already widely traded and consumed in the country for a long time and these had not generated any negative effect to the consumers.

“It always starts with the market. The market are the consumers, the consumers are our market. Before you can introduce any product to the market, you need to know how it will be received by the market. So you need to work on how the consumers perceive a certain product. Once we have ascertained that the consumers accept the product, we continue on deploying through the farmers, through the producers. So it’s important that they are educated of this technology as well that it does not have detrimental effect on them and the environment,” he said.

Currently, different government agencies that are also involved in research and development studies on biotechnology such as Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, Bureau of Plant Industry, and the Bureau of Animal Industry have their respective projects in informing and educating the public of the good effects of biotechnology.

Sales said he is looking forward for the convergence of all the key players of the sector to come up with an integrated plan.

When asked how he would think the positive receipt of biotechnology would affect the agricultural sector of the country, Sales said it would greatly help the sector.

“Biotechnology will allow you to produce more products with less land, with less resources. Because with biotech you can increase growth, you can increase yield and resistance to disease. That would cause bigger production volume. This is especially helpful now with urbanization of some land. Consequently, when that happens, we address malnutrition and hunger and poverty because farmers can produce more and get more from their products,” Sales said.