Press Release
April 11, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara said that the looming worldwide food crisis can be prevented with the implementation of S&T based projects and the continued cooperation of government, academe and industry.

Angara made these statements in light of reports that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which measures global food prices, may hit an all-time high.

Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) is looking to develop a strategic plan that involves using S&T to address critical issues like rising food costs and lower farm output.

The former Department of Agriculture (DA) head said that one major target should be the achievement of rice self sufficiency. He mentioned that COMSTE is working on plans to help develop improved farm to market logistics as well as creating more resilient agricultural systems that can withstand climate change.

Angara, who recently made a privilege speech at the senate, suggested food security measures that the Philippines can adopt. In the short-term, he said the government must install post-harvest facilities to curb wastage which can readily cover supply shortfalls, as well as rehabilitate 800,000 hectares of irrigation canals in disrepair.

Angara reiterated that long-term solutions entail investing in agricultural infrastructure and R&D. He said that COMSTE is looking into Aquaculture and fishing industries that could possibly provide a high protein diet for Filipinos and at the same time enlarge an export market that can create more jobs.

He said that the need for innovative thinking in tackling problems facing the country is essential in giving the country a chance to leap frog development and catch up to neighboring countries.

Angara pointed out that he also filed a senate bill no. 2055, or the Biotechnology Industry Development Act of 2010, to support the initiatives of COMSTE.

Angara pointed out 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."

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