Masbate solon says animal biotechnology key to PH food security

Masbate Rep. Elisa “Olga” Kho has cited the importance of animal biotechnology in improving the health and welfare of animals and in ensuring the country’s food security. 

The chairperson of the Committee on Rural Development said the use of animal biotechnology should be promoted in the country, as it would help equip the Philippines  deal with different diseases afflicting animals, including the African Swine Fever (ASF) and Avian Flu.

"Animal biotechnology is very important to prevent diseases among our animals and to make them resilient especially those we are slaughtering for our consumption, using this technology make them  fat and bigger like in cows and salmons, in dehorning our goats for their protection so they can better survive,” she said.

"Regarding African Swine Fever, they are still in the developmental stage, the initial one did not prove to be effective, with this new developments and if we adopt this technology, we can address our food security,” she added. 

Kho noted that in 2019, the ASF killed more than 300 pigs in the country, which she said, is  "a big blow to our marginalized sectors, especially our farmers, and our economy.”

"I hope there will be a cure for ASF. I believe that with the use of animal biotechnology we can overcome all these hindrances and problems, especially in our country which is still developing,” she said. 

The House leader also noted that the country has been using animal biotechnology to develop and produce vaccines for human illnesses and cancer treatment.

Given the benefits of the animal biotechnology, Kho urged her colleagues to ensure the plenary passage of the two measures seeking to promote the biotechnology. 

"There are pending bills in the House of Representatives – House Bill No. 260  or “An Act Strengthening the National Policy on Access, and Benefit-Sharing From the Utilization of Philippine Genetic Resources” and HB 3372  or “An Act Promoting Safe and Responsible Use of Modern Biotechnology, Establishing the Biotechnology Authority of the Philippines.” The bills have been approved on the committee level. They were due for plenary discussions,” she said. 

HB No. 260 is principally authored by Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato and the main proponent of HB No. 3372 is   AAMBIS-Owa partylist Rep.  Sharon Garin.

During the recent webinar on the “Global State of Animal Biotechnology and the Need for National Policy Support” organized by the House Committee on Science and Technology chaired by Bohol Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado, Kho said it is "very timely” for the biotechnology experts to apprise policymakers about the necessary legislation that have to be passed to sustain human and animal health and welfare and alleviate poverty through biotechnology. 

The webinar was organized by the Aumentado panel, in coordination with the United States Embassy, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).