DAVAO CITY—The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) flashed the green light for the planting for commercial production in the country of a genetically modified cotton variety, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (Isaaa) said.
In the September 6 issue of its online weekly publication, Biotech Update, Isaaa said the BPI issued a biosafety permit for the commercial propagation of Bt cotton (GFM cry1A), which was developed by the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA).
“The permit was granted to PhilFIDA after completion of the biosafety evaluation and the requirements for commercial propagation based on the Joint Department Circular [JDC]No. 1, Series of 2021 issued by the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health and Department of the Interior and Local Government.”
The BPI issued the permit on August 24 and announced the approval on its website, the Isaaa said.
The Isaaa said Bt (Biotechnology) cotton contains the Bt fusion gene, GFM cry1A, “produced based on the protein template of Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis.” The Bt fusion gene confers resistance to bollworm infestation.
The Alliance for Science, an organization of scientists, said Bt cotton has been genetically engineered to resist the dreaded bollworm (Heliothis armigera), “a destructive pest that is partly responsible for the decline of the country s cotton industry.” Bt cotton includes a gene derived from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which produces a protein that is toxic only to the newly hatched bollworm larvae that attack cotton.
“That means the Bt protein would not affect non-target organisms because its toxic effect is specific only to the bollworm pest,” the alliance said, adding that the crop technology largely replaces the need to control the bollworm through applications of synthetic chemical pesticides, which may cause harm to human health and the environment.
The Bt variety was being cultivated in experimental areas to secure approval for commercial release of the seeds. Technology demonstrations were done with cotton producers in the provinces of Ilocos, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Sarangani and South Cotabato involving 40 one-hectare farms.