Bt corn, GM crops better than traditional varieties, experts say
Scientists have confirmed the advantages of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn and genetically modified (GM) crops over traditional strains in a seminar held at the Linden Suites in Ortigas Center as part of the Pan-Asia Farmers Exchange 2009 that started on August 4 and will end on August 6.
Dr. Violeta Villegas, an expert in plant pathology, said Bt corn has been genetically modified to resist the Asiatic corn borer, a pest that has ravaged corn plantations in the past.
Apart from the improved quality of harvest, she added that Bt corn reduces the use of pesticides, which also slashes the production cost of farmers.
“One farmer lost his cow because it fed on corn newly treated with pesticide,”she revealed.
According to her, assessments made by agencies and experts in the United States , Canada , Japan , Europe, South America and Asia have shown that Bt corn is “as safe as conventional corn for humans, animals and the environment.”
Dr. Vic Alpuerto of Monsanto, for his part, said that the current trend is for farmers to adopt corn varieties that are herbicide-tolerant.
He added that as of last year, approved biotech products have been planted in 400,000 hectares of land by 145,000 farmers.
Alpuerto emphasized that planting herbicide-tolerant corn reduces the current levels of loss at 22 during the dry planting season and 46 percent for the wet planting season.
Dr. Saturnina Halos, chairwoman of the Biotechnology Advisory Team of the Department of Agriculture (DA-BAT) summed it up by saying that farmers are the ones who really stand to benefit from the use of genetically modified crops.
“Farmers are the biggest beneficiaries of the Bt and GM technologies,” she said.
“There are countries which ban GM technology. But they import GM crops. This is unfair to the farmers,” she told seminar participants.
After the seminar, local and foreign delegates left for Nueva Ecija and proceed later to Quirino on exposure trips. (biolife news service)