DR. Chito Protacio, Philrice Executive Director, agrees it will take 12 years to develop a variety by
conventional means, but “with biotech tools like market aided selection, we can shorten the process.”
He said they are not talking about recombinant DNA, or genetically-engineered varieties yet like the
research on “golden rice” which is being pursued by Philrice along with the International Rice Research
Institute (IRRI), to complement current interventions to address Vitamin-A deficiency.
Along with IRRI, he said the government is trying to develop the “green super rice” which combined the
superior traits of 250 rice varieties adapted to difficult conditions such as drought and low inputs, including no
pesticide and less fertilizer.
Protacio said the rigid process in biotech research “is given,” but they have to comply for biosafety to be
Protacio said the National Food Authority (NFA) had even asked the CBC to verify if the so-called “fake
rice” seized from the market recently was made of real rice grains.
The Bureau of Customs wants to know if Philrice can tell if rice is imported or a foreign variety.
“Well, we can compare it with our DNA database of known Philippine varieties and say whether or not it is
a local variety. However, we cannot say where it was grown,” he said.
Philrice was designated by officials from the Department of Agriculture to spearhead development in all
crops, he said. “It’s a tall order, but with their support, we can do it.”