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Apr 15, 2012

Review of Agricultural Biotechnology Asia

On 15 April 2012 the International News in Pakistan covered a conference organized by CropLife Asia and the Biotech Coalition of the Philippines that discussed growing support for agricultural biotechnology and gene-modified (GM) crops in Asia.  Conference speakers came from nine different Asian countries to share their GM crops experiences including:
  • Philippines - Executive Secretary of Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines, Abraham Manalo spoke on how the Philippines was the first country in Southeast Asia to establish a regulatory system for GM crops and is the only country in the region to approve the commercialization of GM crops.  He pointed out that the Filipino biosafety law is a "model framework to other countries.” 

  • China - Communication Specialist for Bayer CropScience China, Lucy Li spoke on China's rapid adoption of BT Cotton.  She noted that 71.5% of China's cotton crop was now BT cotton and that 95% of this was from was from 64 locally developed varieties. China has also approved GM papaya and GM poplar trees.  The Chinese government plans to increase GM crop "total production to 540 million tons by 2020 and to double Chinese farmers’ income by 2020."

  • India - Dr Nadoor Seetharama, Director Association of Biotechnology led Enterprises (ABLE) spoke on the success and rapid adoption of BT cotton in India.  Due to this decision to approve and commercialize GM cotton, Indian was now the second producer of cotton in the world.  He discussed the strong anti-GM movement against commercializing other GM crops.

  • Thailand - Dr Sujin Patarapuwadol, Assistant Director, Centre for Agricultural Biotechnology at Kasetsart University noted that GM technology was first introduced into Thailand 20 years ago.  However there has been little support for its adoption or commercialization.  As of 3 April 2001, Thailand's Cabinet had decided that it would not allow the importation or production of GM corps for commercial purposes or field trials.  The exceptions are processed food and imports of soybeans and corn for feed use, human consumption, and industrial use.  In 2003, Thailand National Biotechnology Policy Committee had approved a GM "road map."  Some research has been done at the university level on yellow leaf curl virus-resistant tomato and virus-resistance papaya.

  • Indonesia - Dr Bahagiawati Amir Husin, Scientist at the Indonesia Center for Agricultural Biotechnology and Genetic Resources Research (ICABIOGRAD) said that Indonesian scientists and decision-makers believe that biotechnology potentially increases agriculture production.  The government has supported GM research since the early 1990s but there has been no advancement to commercialization.  In October 2010 and January 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture stated that GM crops had a role in sustainable agriculture especially regarding climate change. Limited field trials of GM crops are being conducted for drought tolerant (DT) sugarcane and virus resistant potatoes. HT and BT corn were being tested for safety.

  • Pakistan - Ilyas Nadeem, Commercial Operation Lead Monsanto Pakistan and Dr. Mohammad Zafar Hayat District Governor Lodhran, Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP) discussed how BT cotton was being grown but from "pirated" sources that had not been approved.  Field tests were being conducted to commercialize GM corn.  
For more see: Hasan, Munawar. "Biotechnology enters mainstream agri-production in Asia," International News (Pakistan), 15 April 2012.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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