The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) held a two-day training on Environmental Risk Assessment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) on September 14 to 15, 2015 at the SEARCA Residence Hall.

In partnership with the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) Philippines, a program based at the BIOTECH in the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), around 25 staff and personnel from ERDB and its six research centers, Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), and the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) participated in the training.

The resource persons during the first day were Dr. Evelyn Mae Tecson Mendoza (Basic Biotechnology and Development of GMOs), PBS Technical advisor Mr. Stacy Ivan Charlton (Environmental Safety Assessment of Transgenic Plants: Fundamentals and relevant issues, and Principles of Tier Testing), Ms. Julieta Fe Estacio (Regulation of GMOs), Ms. Veronica Sinohin (The Receiving Environment), Ms. Merle Palacpac (Monitoring of GM crops), and Dr. Carmelita Villamor (ERA Instrument used by ERDB in Biosafety Research).

The next day, Ms. Ma. Lorelie Agbala facilitated a risk assessment exercise using the Department of Agriculture instruments based on the discussions. The participants were subdivided into two groups. The first group was tasked to work on risk assessment of Herbicide tolerant corn while the second group was assigned to work on the Bt eggplant. After much deliberation, the group presented the results they came up with.

Afterwards, Mr. Charlton again presented the documented benefits of GM crops. It is then followed by the interactive discussion on Importance of Building Institutional Memory and Possible Methods for the Philippine Biosafety Regulatory System by Dr. Mariliza Ticsay and Ms. Monina Villena.

Before officially ending the training, the participants answered a training evaluation to assess the effectiveness and attainment of the objectives of the training. Melanie N. Ojeda, TTD