December 6, 2022

An expert lauded the recent commercial propagation approval of golden rice, saying this is an indicator of the Philippines’ leadership role in agricultural biotechnology in the ASEAN region.
Leonardo Montemayor, former agriculture secretary and currently the board chair of Federation of Free Farmers, said he considers modern biotechnology as a tool in curbing Vit. A deficiency, which is expected with the commercialization of Golden Rice.
“Let us promote other sources of Vit. A – malunggay, squash, and camote, but let us not close our eyes from the possibility that modern biotechnology can provide an additional tool for us to address Vit. A deficiency. If golden rice, which is a product of biotechnology, turns out to be useful, at least it is convenient compared to other sources of Vit. A. Let us have a range of choices for people, especially kids, for them to have better access to Vit. A,” he said.
“Anything that can contribute to minimizing or eradicating the problem should merit investigation,” he added.
On the matter of GMOs in the country, Montemayor said there is a need to establish a framework and all necessary guidelines to regulate and monitor these and make sure that safety protocols and regulations are in place.
The country’s pioneering path began in 1990 with the establishment of its first biosafety policy and further strengthened by Administrative Order 8, s. 2002, which opened the pathways for “local agriculture to benefit from the safe and responsible use of modern biotechnology.”
While AO 8, s. 2002 has since been superseded by Department Circular 1 s. 2016, the spirit of scientific inquiry for the social good that it fostered continues to this day, with Montemayor speaking positively about golden rice.
In terms of the proprietary rights of golden rice, Montemayor said no issues will emerge as Syngenta, which previously owned it, waived its right to public domain.
This means the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute and International Rice Research Institute are free to research, develop, and come up with the final output.
Montemayor shared these statements in an online forum where PhilRice Executive Director John de Leon assured the institute makes sure of safe, responsible, and equitable use of technologies.
“We also focus on improving the livelihood and quality of life of farmers and consumers, and provide safe and nutritious food for the Filipinos. We have generated extensive data on the safety of golden rice in terms of national and international safety standards,” he said. – Press release