In compliance to COVID-19 health and safety protocol guidelines, ERDB Director Henry A. Adornado (3rd from left) and ERDB Asst. Director Mayumi Quintos-Natividad (4th from left) as they led the ERDB Division Chiefs during the forum on “Enviotech : Biotechnologies for a Healthy Environment”.

With the theme, “BIOTEKNOLOHIYA: Pagbangon at Pag-Asa tungo sa Matatag na Komunidad, Kapaligiran at Ekonomiya”, a forum on “Enviotech: Biotechnologies for a Healthy Environment” was held on Nov. 25, 2020 at the SEARCA Auditorium in Los Baños, Laguna via facebook live.

For. Florita E. Siapno, Chief of the Forest Ecosystem Research Division (FERD) discussed the topic, “Biotechnology for Forest Protection”. She discussed the importance of forests as the source of timber forest products, fuelwood, medicinal plants, pharmaceuticals, watershed function for soil conservation and good water quality and supply. She also mentioned the destructive threats to forests such as pests and diseases which disrupt the goods and services of forest ecosystem.

Regarding the biotechnologies of forests, For. Siapno described Hi-QVam1 as a fungus that helps the roots of plants to absorb more nutrients from the soil. She also mentioned about the clonal propagation which is the use of stem cuttings of good quality mother trees to propagate forest trees. Another biotechnology is tissue culture which is the mass propagation of plants by using plant tissues. The last is the genetic diversity which is a biotechnology that studies the genetic variations of plant species to prevent them from extinction.

On the question on why do we need biotechnology, she answered that biotechnology is needed to hasten the planting of trees which are difficult to propagate.

Regarding the biotechnologies on urban ecosystem, Dr. Simplicia A. Pasicolan, Chief of the Urban Ecosystem Research Division (UERD) tackled the importance of biodiversity. She said, “Biodiversity is where our food comes from, and it used for clothing, shelter, and medicine.” She added that 80% of global population rely on plants and animals as source of medicine.

When asked on ways to conserve biodiversity, Dr. Pasicolan said that one way of conserving biodiversity is to teach the school children on the importance of biodiversity.

The last panelist was Dr. Maria Lourdes Q. Moreno, Chief of the Coastal Zone and Freshwater Ecosystem Research Division (CZFERD), said that there are 832 municipalities near the coastal zone areas in the Philippines. She said, “Due to the increasing population in the coastal areas, the source of food is depleted. Thus, biotechnology is the solution to the problem on scarcity of food and a source of medicine and cosmetics.”

There were several questions from the viewers which were duly answered by the resource speakers.

On the ERDB’s future research directions, ERDB Director Henry A. Adornado mentioned about the mitigation of the adverse impacts of climate change, bioremediation of waste water, developing technologies using living organisms, and low-cost absorbent materials for toxic and hazardous wastes.

Pertaining to the role of DENR on biosafety, Dir. Adornado identified the assessment or evaluation if a technology or Genetically-Modified Organism (GMO) is good or bad for the environment. He said, “The DENR recommends to the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) on the issuance of permits. The approval of permit goes through a rigid process of screening to ensure that it will not adversely affect the environment.”

Dir. Adornado also suggested the improvement of technologies that are being generated by the bureau and the strong partnership between research institutions not only in the Philippines but also in other countries.

Asst. Director Mayumi Quintos-Natividad thanked all the viewers and encouraged them to adopt biotechnology in their everyday life. She also thanked the researchers and urged the viewers to support “Pinoy Biotech”. Marla V. Cambay, TTD