A House of Representatives’ leader on Thursday called for the passage of a measure seeking to modernize biotechnology in the Philippines in a bid to combat poverty.
Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin made the call as the country celebrates the National Week for Overcoming Extreme Poverty, which started last October 17.
House Bill 7926, or the Modern Biotechnology Act of 2018, seeks the creation of a Biotechnology Authority of the Philippines (BioAP), which shall serve as the policy-making body on biotechnology in the country.
Garin said the bill aims to eliminate regulatory complications hampering the commercial release of biotechnology products, mitigate the effects of climate change, promote competitiveness, & combat poverty.
“Opportunities to alleviate poverty are being wasted as we continue to delay the passage of this bill. The notion that modern biotechnology products produced commercially are potentially dangerous must be discarded once for all,” she said.
“It is time that safe and responsible use of biotechnology is included in the Philippine toolkit to meet national development goals,” she added.
Biotechnology is defined as the use of biotechnological processes “to harness cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet.”
The National Economic and Development Authority recognizes agricultural biotechnology as a priority sector with a direct impact on AmBisyon Natin 2040, the collective vision of Filipinos over the next 25 years.
The bill states that the BioAP shall be responsible for reviewing, improving and implementing biosafety regulations for products of modern biotechnology.
BioAP shall also ensure that the biosafety regulations are science-based and simplified with a product-based, and not a process-based approach.
The bill proposes a donor’s tax exemption for any donation, contribution, bequest subsidy, or financial aid to BioAP or any Department, state university or college, or research center in support of biotechnology.
The bill also seeks to penalize the unauthorized destruction of biotech crops, sale or distribution of fake Genetically Modified Organism seeds.
A fine of PHP 500,000 and/or imprisonment for two years shall be imposed on individual violators.
If the violation is made by an organization or an institution, a fine of PHP10 million and/or suspension of the privilege to operate within the Philippines shall be imposed. (PNA)
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