Filipino experts counter negative perception of genetically modified organisms

ILOILO CITY, Oct. 1 (PNA) — Filipino biotechnology experts have dispelled the negative perception of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the Philippines, saying these products are safe and can help secure the country’s food needs.

In a press briefing here on Thursday, Dr. Saturnina Halos, Chair of the Biotechnology Advisory Team of the Department of Agriculture, said two studies have been conducted in the Philippines to determine the people’s perception of GMO.

“There is actually a very positive perception (of GMO). In general, it is more positive (than negative),” Halos said about the study.

The negative view on GMO comes from a small group of articulate and well-paid individuals, who know how to get to the media and spread misinformation, she said, adding that the government has no aggressive campaign promoting GMO, hence the misconception about such products.

This small group also wants to create a picture of a doomsday scenario that is actually not supported by facts, said Dr. Ernelea Cao, director of the Institute of Biotechnology of the University of the Philippines, Diliman.

“The problem is, it is more perpetuated in the media because maybe people are influenced by what we see on television or what we see in the movies,” she said.

“And this is not (what) GM technology is all about. The organism is still the same — you just have a trait that has been added to it. So, it is not like the Frankenstein picture which is being depicted by certain groups and aimed to frighten the people.”

“And we are here helping because we want to give the right information to the public, to give the correct information to our people,” she added.

Delegates to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings here held a forum on Wednesday, tackling the co-existence of GMO and organic farming.

Among the widely cultivated GMO crops in the Philippines are corn and eggplant. (PNA)