Dr. Leo Gonzales of STRIVE Foundation discussing the experience of socio-economic assessments in the Philippines
Dr. Jose Falck-Zepeda of PBS discussing methodologies on socio-economic considerations
Last September 8-9, 2016, the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) in collaboration with the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) conducted a workshop on the socio-economic considerations of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) at the Acacia Hotel in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
The workshop was deemed necessary in light of the issuance of the DOST-DA-DENR-DOH-DILG Joint Department Circular (JDC) No.1 Series of 2016 entitled “Rules and Regulations for the Research and Development, Handling and Use, Transboundary Movement, Release into the Environment, and Management of Genetically-Modified Plant and Plant Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology” which requires that socio-economic considerations be taken into account in the risk assessment of GMOs, as stated in Article II, Section 3D:
Socio-economic, Ethical and Cultural Considerations. In making biosafety decisions for the commercialization of a regulated article, concerned departments shall take into account socio-economic, ethical and cultural considerations arising from the impact of regulated articles on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, especially with regard to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities.
The workshop aimed to formulate the conceptual framework on the socio-economic, ethical and cultural considerations for GM crops and products. It sought to anchor socio-economic, ethical and cultural, and biodiversity considerations upon existing internationally accepted concepts and the Philippine regulations so as to further the implementation of the JDC while bearing in mind that regulators have to perform due diligence. Speakers gave a brief background on the issues crucial to the Philippine biosafety regulatory system including concepts on socio-economic and biodiversity impact assessments, and ethical and cultural considerations. The discussions were not intended to be construed as a mandatory list of issues for implementation, rather, an initial discussion for defining a feasible, manageable, time and cost efficient, fair and protective approach for decision-making. The insights gained from said Workshop shall be useful to the regulators in the identification and formulation of the set of questions for incorporation in the risk assessment forms to be filled out by the proponent. A second leg of the Workshop, once again in collaboration with PBS is tentatively set in 2017. The activity will involve other stakeholders aside from the regulators in the government and shall further discuss the applicable questions and feasible approach for SEECC assessments and analyses under the Philippine setting.
The participants of the workshop together with the speakers. From L-R: Mr. Carlo Custodio, Engr. Mary Therese Gonzales, Ms. Sheeb Quiaonza, Ms. Geronima Eusebio, Ms. Ruth Consuelo Ramirez, Ms. Cherry Winsom Holgado, Dr. Preciosa Pabroa, Ms. Glad Alarcos, Ms. Pilar Pagayunan, Ms. Veronica Sinohin, Dr. Marita Reyes, Dr. Leo Gonzales, Dr. Daylinda Cabanilla, Dr. Jose Falck-Zepeda, Ms. Amparo Ampil, and Ms. Agnette Peralta.