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President Benigno S. Aquino III had expressed support in biotechnology research including Golden Rice, a new type of rice that produces beta carotene.

In a speech delivered by Department of Agriculture Sec. Proceso J. Alcala during the recent 7th International Rice Genetics Symposium in Makati, Aquino said that scientific research is needed to ensure stable food and enough rice for Filipinos.

“From developing healthier, more cost effective varieties of rice like Golden Rice and Submarino Rice, to improving best practices and technologies for rice production, to diversifying our agricultural output through biotechnological research as seen in the high quality corn we produce, indeed, you are not only contributing to the advancement of agricultural and scientific research; more importantly, you are all working to build a more sustainable future for all our peoples,” the President said.

Addressing more than 700 scientists and researchers in plant breeding and genetics, Aquino, however, stressed that “research and the use of biotechnology in food products must be done in a safe and responsible manner.”

In an October press briefing, Alcala, said that “no one has the right to stop GM experiments, such as the Golden Rice study, as long as proper safety procedures are followed.”

In the five trial sites of Golden Rice, local leaders and farmers have also issued resolutions backing up the research.

The Philippine Farmers` Advisory Board, an advisory body to the National Food Authority and other government agencies dealing with grain-related industries, resolved to “support the ongoing conduct and completion of the field trials of Golden Rice in the country [and encourage] the Philippine Rice Research Institute  to continue its information-education activities to farmer-stakeholders and the general public.”

The corn farmers, through the National Corn Congress and Philippine Maize- Federation Inc, also passed a resolution to the Philippine government to issue policies upholding the field trial of genetically modified (GM) crops believing that they are safe and beneficial not only to the farmers but to the country.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Association of Nutrition, an association of nutrition experts, scientists, and academicians, also hopes that “no further disruptions will hinder the completion of research on Golden Rice as an additional potential intervention to vitamin A deficiency,” which, they said, remains a public health problem in the country despite significant reduction based on the 2008 National Nutrition Survey.

The National Academy of Science and Technology and more than 6,000 people from the global sectors have also signed an online petition condemning the vandalism of one Golden Rice field trial in August.

Golden Rice research is ongoing and would need to pass food, feed, and environmental safety before it can be made available to farmers and consumers.

For more information about the Golden Rice project, visit www.philrice.gov.ph or call/text 09209111398.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute