‘Tall’ order’

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.


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Protacio said the rigid process in biotech research “is given,” but they have to comply for biosafety to be

observed.

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.”

Joel C. Paredes

Joel briefly served government as director-general of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), although he has been a practicing journalist and writer for nearly 37 years. He led a team organized by the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB)  and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that worked on the book entitled “Protecting our Natural Wealth, Enhancing our Natural Pride.”