Press Release
February 24, 2011


The Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) prioritized the development of Biotechnology for Health and food security as one of its flagship projects for 2011.

Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Chair of COMSTE, also filed a Senate Bill 2055, or the Biotechnology Industry Development Act of 2010, to support the initiative of the commission.

In a recently held international conference titled, "Seminar-workshop on Strategic Communication on Agricultural Biotechnology Using Risk Communication Methodology", the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) gathered international experts to address biotechnology issues and concerns.

Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., SEARCA Director, emphasized the role of biotechnology as a promising tool for reducing rural poverty and food insecurity in the Southeast Asian region.

Angara noted that the world biotechnology industry is a multibillion industry. Investment in medical biotechnology alone is estimated at US$200 billion whereas investment in agricultural biotechnology was worth US$67 billion in 2003. The start of the 21st century indicates the coming convergence of agriculture and medicine with pharmaceuticals being produced by genetically engineered plants and the greater acceptance of herbal medicine.

The proposed bill, "intends to address the weaknesses of our system to enable the country to develop a biotechnology-based industry. The private sector is given incentives to invest in biotechnology R&D by allowing the total R&D cost and prices of shares of stocks in biotech companies as tax deductible. Majority of the government's investments in biotechnology R&D is awarded through a government corporation so as to lessen the burden of an unwieldy accounting and auditing system."

Angara said that, "the Philippines was one of a handful of countries that kept relatively strong economic growth throughout the global recession. But as the world's fastest growing economies have shown, it is not merely enough to stay afloat. It is more pressing now than ever to ensure that the country has the capability to create knowledge and harness innovation."

Other priority projects of COMSTE for 2011 are Telehealth for remote areas and Digital Medical Records, Remote-Sensing for Agriculture, Electronic Vehicles and Green Transport and Disaster Science, and Renewable Energy Systems.

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