Asian countries are increasingly adopting biotechnology for enhancing agriculture production.
This emerged at a session organised by CropLife Asia and Biotech Coalition of the Philippines as part of Sixth Pan-Asia Farmers Exchange Programme at Subic Bay, the Philippines.
Representatives of as many as nine Asian countries participated in the session and talked about issues relating to adoption of biotechnology in their respective countries.
Talking about Plant Biotech Benefits, the Executive Secretary of Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines, Abraham Manalo said the Philippines was the first country in Southeast Asia to establish a regulatory system for genetically modified (GM) crops, while it is the sole country in the region currently commercialising GM/biotech crops.
“The advancements made by the Philippines are significant as it is the first country in Southeast Asia to be included in the top 15 biotech mega-countries. Its National bio-safety policy is considered as a model framework to other countries,” he added.
He claimed that the adoption of biotechnology had helped corn farmers in lowering production cost and led to a 60 percent reduction in pesticide use, as well as lowered labor costs associated with weeding and spraying.
Yield benefits are also huge as farmers harvested 34 percent more produce of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn over non-Bt varieties. It is estimated that benefits of planting biotech maize to farmers has been to the tune of $108 million during 2003-2009, Manalo observed. More importantly, it is claimed, he said, that no negative effect has been recorded on beneficial insects.
During her session, Lucy Li, a Communication Specialist at Bayer CropScience China, discussed issues pertaining to Biotech Application in China. She said adoption rate of Bt cotton in China stood at 71.5 per cent with 3.9 million hectares under cultivation.
She added that Bt cotton virtually saved China’s cotton industry as it was badly affected due to disaster of cotton bollworms in 1990s, which resulted in great production loss.
She said that as many as 95 percent of Bt cotton cultivated in China is locally developed varieties. In total, 64 varieties of Bt cotton are grown in China, while seven million cotton farmers planted it at 3.9 million hectare in 2011.
An increase in the income of farmers- by approximately $220 per hectare, on average- has been estimated due to a 10 percent increase in yield and a 60 percent reduction in insecticides use, she said.