Country information about GM food safety assessment
The Philippines is the first ASEAN country to establish a modern regulatory system for modern biotechnology. The country's biosafety regulatory system follows strict scientific standards and has become a model for member-countries of the ASEAN seeking to become producers of agricultural biotechnology crops.
Concerns on biosafety in the Philippines started as early as 1987 when scientists from the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Quarantine Officer of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the Director for Crops of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) recognized the potential for harm of the introduction of exotic species and genetic engineering. The joint committee formed the biosafety protocols and guidelines for genetic engineering and related research activities for UPLB and IRRI researchers. This proposal was eventually adapted into a Philippine Biosafety policy by virtue of Executive Order No 430, Series of 1990, issued by then President Corazon C. Aquino on October 15, 1990, which created the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP). The NCBP formulates, reviews and amends national policy on biosafety and formulates guidelines on the conduct of activities on genetic engineering. The NCBP comprised of representative from the Department of Agriculture (DA); Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); Health (DOH); and Department of Science and Technology (DOST), 4 scientists in biology, environmental science, social science and physical science and 2 respected members of the community.
The Philippines’ Law, Executive Order No.514 (EO514), Series of 2006 entitled “Establishing the National Biosafety Framework (NBF), Prescribing Guidelines for its Implementation, Strengthening the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines, and for Other Purposes was also issued. This order sets the establishment of the departmental biosafety committees in the DA, DENR, DOH and DOST. The mandates jurisdiction and other powers of all departments and agencies in relation to biosafety and biotechnology is guided by the NBF in coordination with the NCBP and each other in exercising its power.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) issued Administrative Order No 8, Series of 2002, (DA AO8, 2002), which is part of EO 514, for the implementation of guidelines for the importation and release into the environment of plants and plant products derived from the use of modern biotechnology. The DA authorizes the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) as the lead agency responsible for the regulation of agricultural crops developed through modern biotechnology. The BPI has adopted a protocol for risk assessment of GM crops for food and feed or for processing based on the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA plants and a protocol for environmental risk assessment in accordance with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and with the recommendation of the Panel of Experts of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). DA AO8, 2002 ensures that only genetically food crops that have been well studied and found safe by parallel independent assessments by a team of Filipino scientists and technical personnel from the concerned regulatory agencies of the Department are allowed into our food supply and into our environment.
The DA AO 8, 2002 has a step by step introduction of GM plant into the environment. The research and development phase would require testing the genetically modified (GM) crop under controlled conditions subject to regulation by the government agencies. The first stage of evaluation for GM crops is testing under contained facilities such as laboratories, greenhouses and screenhouses. After satisfactory completion of testing under contained facilities, confined environmental release or field trial is done. Confined field trial (CFT) is the first controlled introduction of the GM crop into the environment. The approval for field trial shall be based on the satisfactory completion of safety testing under contained conditions. Unconfined environmental release or commercialization of the product would follow after the safe conduct of the CFT. Approval for propagation shall only be allowed after field trials and risk assessment show no significant risk to human and animal health and the environment.
Relevant links to documents and information prepared by the competent authority responsible for the safety assessment
Gene stacking in plants can be conferred either through genetic engineering or conventional breeding
A full risk assessment as to food and feed or for processing shall be conducted to plant products carrying stacked genes conferred through genetic engineering or conventional breeding, where the individual traits have no prior approval for direct use as food and feed or processing from the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI)
A desktop or documentary risk assessment on the possible or expected interactions between the genes shall be conducted for stacked gene products with multiple traits conferred through conventional breeding and individual events granted prior approval by the Bureau of Plant Industry.
Contact details of the competent authority(s) responsible for the safety assessment and the product applicant:
Bureau of Plant Industry 692 San Andres St, Malate, Manila 1004