Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Youth group advocates biotechnology

Members of the University of the Philippines League of Agricultural Biotechnology Students (UPLABS), call their group the “emerging bastion of excellence” in advocating science-based knowledge. 

UPLABS, based at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, is a three-year-old academic organization especially for BS Agricultural Biotechnology students and has come forward as an advocate of biotechnology to advance Philippine agriculture.

In the aftermath of the Golden Rice field trial at Camarines Sur getting vandalized a few months ago, UPLABS issued a statement condemning “the uncivilized act done by a militant group in an experimental station.” Their statement acknowledged the freedom of each individual and organization to express opinions and views on certain issues that affect them, but that “despite the difference in views regarding genetically modified (GM) crops, respect for each other must be upheld at all times.” 

UPLABS also stated that once Golden Rice is approved by government regulators, they believe that it will help get rice enriched with beta carotene within reach of people and thus help address vitamin A deficiency in the country.

UPLABS had also expressed support for the Bt Talong (eggplant) project and other biotechnology research projects conducting multilocation field trials. In a statement following the court ruling on the Bt Talong case, UPLABS expressed its disapproval, saying that the completed field trials in various parts of the country “were responsibly undertaken by the researchers involved in the project, and were meticulously policed by the Institutional Biosafety Committee and representatives from the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry.”  

UPLABS is grateful for the support of professors, advisers, university officials, and researchers for the group to continue disseminating factual information to the Filipino people, especially to the youth, who deserve to know how GM and other forms of biotechnology can benefit them.

In line with National Biotechnology Week (NBW), which is celebrated on25-29 November 2013, UPLABS prepared a series of activities seeking to share knowledge on advances in modern biotechnology and to promote agricultural biotechnology products. This year, the activities have the theme, “Toward the Enhancement of Food and Feed Quality through Agricultural Biotechnology.”

The week-long celebration started with the opening of the UPLABS exhibit at the Crop Science Cluster lobby at UP Los Baños. V. Bruce J. Tolentino, IRRI deputy director general for communication and partnerships, and Antonio Laurena, UPLABS senior adviser, were on hand to give inspiration and pledge support. 

Dr. Tolentino bid some 160 students from the Los Baños National High School to keep their minds open about biotechnology and to share what they learn from their NBW experience to their peers and families back home. 

Jayvee Rosal, UPLABS president, said that their organization considers sharing knowledge about agricultural biotechnology to young people very important, as it is a good chance to educate and influence the country’s future leaders. He also encouraged the members to join the advocacy “Para sa bioteknolohiya, para sa bayan” (for biotechnology, for country).

Other activities lined up by UPLABS for the NBW include a career orientation, a quiz contest, and a symposium titled Enhancement of food nutritional value through agricultural biotechnology with the speaker being Gerard Barry, Golden Rice Network Coordinator at IRRI. 

More information about UPLABS and their activities for NBW can be found on Facebook

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