460,000 farming families earn more amid adoption of GM corn

Published June 30, 2021, 1:42 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

About 460,000 Filipino farming families have so far gained higher after adopting genetically modified (GM) corn, a study showed.

Based on a recent study entitled “Economic Assessment of GM Corn Use in the Philippines”, the total factor productivity growth of the country’s local corn output was estimated to be 11.45 percent higher due to GM corn adoption.

This, as the areas in the country planted with GM corn has reached around 835,000 since its first regulatory approval in 2002.

Nice and clean Bayer pest resistant hybrid corn. (Credit-GLC)

The study, authored by Flor Alvarez, Abraham Manalo, and Ramon Clarete, was published in the International Journal of Food Science and Agriculture.

Its target was to gauge the economic impact of GM corn over the last 17 years across the country and segment it into low to high household income.

“Total welfare gain from adopting GM corn as measured by the equivalent variation of income reached $189.4 million or nearly a tenth of a percent of total household income,” said the study.

From corn’s national average yield of only 3 metric tons (MT) per hectare, the potential yield from GM corn use can attain double or triple this output.

Current technologies in the market include Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn, which provides built-in resistance against the Asiatic corn borer, one of the most prevalent and destructive insect pests in the Philippines.

There have been other insect-resistant traits introduced to farmers after these have been thoroughly evaluated and approved by the government using its existing regulatory guidelines on biosafety.

In addition to insect resistance, herbicide-tolerant traits help farmers conveniently manage weeds that impact corn yields This technology protects the corn from damage when using glyphosate-based herbicides and promotes minimum tillage, which helps the environment by preventing soild erosion and degradation.

As of October 2020, the Bureau of Plant Industry of the Department of Agriculture has approved 42 GM events in corn.

30 of these approvals are for direct use as food, feed, or processing, while 12 are for commercial planting.

The top corn-producing regions in the Philippines are Cagayan Valley, Socksargen, Northern Mindanao, ARMM, and Ilocos Region.

Meanwhile, GM corn also enabled the Philippines to export corn silage as the disease-resistant corn plants remain free from holes from pest infestation.

“Through established government biosafety regulations that assess the safety and benefits of GM corn traits to human and animal health, and to the environment, both farmers and consumers gain from these innovations for our country’s food security and resiliency drive,” said Edilberto de Luna, Executive Director of CropLife Philippines.

CropLife Philippines is an association of companies that help improve the productivity of Filipino farmers and contribute to Philippine food security in a sustainable way.

It belongs to a global and regional network of national associations and member-companies representing the plant science industry.

CropLife supports innovation, research and development in agriculture through the use of biology, chemistry, biotechnology, plant breeding, other techniques, and disciplines.

It promotes the benefits and responsible use of products of the plant science industry such as crop protection and modern agricultural biotechnology—all under a sound regulatory framework.

 
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