The National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL), the country’s premier recognition and advisory body on science and technology (S&T), vouched for the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) such as BT eggplant and Golden Rice.
The NAST PHL issued the statement, anticipating “another wave of misinformation that causes confusion” against the new products of modern biotechnology.
“The preponderance of evidence about the safety of GMOs from eminent scientific bodies and government regulatory agencies globally gives us the confidence to assure the Filipino public that we can safely plant and consume both Bt eggplant and Golden Rice,” it said.
The advisory body said it has reviewed the evaluation of GMOs by other scientific bodies, including that of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States in 2016, the Science Advisory Council of the National Science Academies of the European Union (EU) member-states in 2013, 158 Nobel Prize Laureates as of 2021, the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2013, the American Medical Association in 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2014, and the European Commission in 2010.
It also took time to assess the joint statement issued in 2000 by the US National Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of London, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Indian National Science Academy, Mexican Academy of Sciences, and the Third World Academy of Sciences.
The NAST PHL described BT eggplant and Golden Rice as the first products of research and development work on GMO by the country’s public research institutes.
“These are just the latest of a total of 164 approved GMOs (143 for FFP and 21 for propagation), the first one of which was approved from commercial propagation in December 2002,” the advisory body said.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) approved Golden Rice for commercial propagation and Bt eggplant for utilization as food, feed and processing or FFP in July this year.
The NAST PHL said it has “consistently” rallied behind the national policy on modern biotechnology. “Thus, we join the scientific community in celebrating the approval of Bt eggplant and Golden Rice after undergoing years of research and regulatory scrutiny.
It cited that a total of 21 regulatory approvals for commercial propagation since 2002 by the Philippine government resulted in a cumulative total of 8.7 million hectares of GMOs planted by the country’s farmers.
“To the best of our knowledge, there is no verified evidence that our regulatory system failed to ensure the safety of these products either to human health or the environment,” it noted.
It explained that the Philippines’ approval process is based on the same principles and procedures that other countries using GMOs have been using since 1996.
By 2020, 2.7 billion ha of GMOs have been planted worldwide, it said.
The NAST PHL said since 2014, Bt eggplant has been planted for human consumption in Bangladesh with a cumulative area of 11, 506 ha. “There is not a single verified report of adverse effects to human health or the environment of Bt eggplant in that country.”
The advisory body said it issued the advisory to “guide the government and the public”, citing that there may be “another wave of misinformation that causes confusion every time a new product of modern biotechnology is offered to the public.”
The NAST PHL, an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology, was created by Presidential Decree 1003 on Oct. 6, 1976.
In 1982, Executive Order 818 was issued making NAST PHL as an advisory body to the President of the Republic of the Philippines and the Cabinet on policies concerning science and technology in the country.
It provides advice on matters related to science and technology in the country, and engages in projects and programs designed to promote scientific productivity and science culture in the Philippines. The body also facilitates collaboration and communication with international scientific academies.