The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) took part on the training course for regulatory officers titled “Biotechnology 101: Basic Biotechnology Tools for Crop/Animal Improvement” sponsored by the DA-BPO and ISAAA in the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PRRI) at Maligaya, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija last April 17-21, 2017. The 4-day training aims to enhance understanding on the status of modern biotechnology application and its tools and techniques specifically on genetic engineering which is the subject in the DA-DENR-DILG-DOH-DOST Joint Department Circular on plants and plant products derived from modern biotechnology. The participants in the training were comprised of regulatory officers coming from the five departments involved in the implementation of the JDC.

The training proper was composed of five sessions wherein it mainly tackled the overview, introduction of biotechnology principles, tools and application such as in health, industry and environment. Moreover, biotechnology applications in improving and helping regulatory services were also presented including the key features of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and sources of scientific reference that can be used for safety assessment were likewise presented.

All sessions include a lecture presentation and laboratory demonstration on genetic engineering (eg. DNA extraction, PCR, Agarose Electrophoresis/PAGE and Gel Scoring) each delivered by resource speakers who were experts in their field and regulators as well who are involved in doing risk assessment. During the training, the participants had a chance to visit the ongoing field trials at Philrice.

Some Philippine biotechnologies in the pipelines were also discussed specifically its background and status like the Golden Rice, Bt Cotton and Bt Eggplant Projects developed by public sectors research institutions such as the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PRRI), Department of Agriculture - Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (DA-PhilFIDA), and University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), respectively.

Overall, this training imparted to the participants the knowledge and skills that can help them perform their regulatory functions and respond to public queries on matters relevant to biosafety regulations. As an ending message Ms. Annalyn L. Lopez, Asst. Director of the DA Biotech Program Office (DA-BPO) said that “we as regulators should know the rules on our book but it is equally important also to know what we are regulating”. Haira Jill E. Apolinario, LESD