Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Monsanto PH urges authorities to address proliferation of counterfeit seeds

Monsanto Philippines urged for the support of the government to help address the proliferation of illegal Bt corn seeds during a recently held media briefing at Marco Polo Hotel, Davao City. During the media briefing, company officials stressed that the sale and planting of illegal seeds pose a threat to farmers and the entire corn industry. 

Dr. Gabriel Romero, Regulatory Policy and Scientific Affairs Lead of Monsanto Philippines elaborated on the increased incidence of counterfeit seeds and its emerging threats to the country’s corn industry. “Adulterated seeds or fake seeds directly affect our farmers. The seeds may be low-priced but they are also of low-quality. Worse, they come out without proper stewardship measures, and thereby threaten GM technology and farmer’s livelihood,” he explained. “We want to put an end to this concern, as it sets in danger the very livelihood of our corn farmers as well as the corn industry,” Dr. Romero added. 

At present, more than 10% of Philippines’ Bt corn seeds are produced illegally by unauthorized companies. These seeds are produced with BT and RR traits but are sold to the market as “conventional seeds”. According to a survey in 2015, farmers who used counterfeit seeds observed a significant decrease in their yield and negative net income brought about by issues like smaller grain, unfilled ear and higher susceptibility to pests. 

Counterfeit seeds, Romero shared, are commercialized without “refuge” in a bag. The agricultural firm appealed to the regulators to help address this issue as absence of refuge in counterfeit seeds may put the GM technology at risk.  He added that observing the “refuge system” is an important requirement to keep pests such as corn borer from becoming resistant to Bt corn. 

Meanwhile, Ms. Charina Garrido-Ocampo, Corporate Affairs Lead of Monsanto Philippines highlighted the company’s effort in promoting modern agriculture to address the country’s food challenges and environmental sustainability. “Agricultural biotechnology can help us achieve food security. It is not a silver bullet which can solve all food-related concerns, including the lack of food, but it offers a solution which we should be open to,” Ms. Ocampo stressed. 

The briefing was conducted in partnership with the Publishers Association of the Philippines (PAPI) and was attended by key members and officers of its Mindanao Chapter. 

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