This, essentially, was the major concern taken up during the “International Seminar on Advances in Biotechnology Applicable to Animal Research and Industry” held at the Imperial Palace Suites in Quezon City last November 9.
The seminar was sponsored and organized by PCC in cooperation with the Livestock Development Council, Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), DA-Biotechnology Program, and the Bureau of Agricultural Research.
The seminar was a take-off initiative in recognition of the livestock industry’s significant contribution in Philippine agriculture.
Based on the figures of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the livestock sub-sector has recorded a production value of P180 billion in 2008 and the carabao industry pitched the highest growth rate at 11.83 percent in 2007 to 2008, followed closely by hog and cattle industries.
Animal identification technology and product traceability system, marker-assisted selection, DNA-based screening for genetic defects in livestock, and the prospects of embryonic stem cells in livestock development were discussed.
Representatives from the academe, core of biotech scientists, as well as key industry players, attended the day-long seminar.
OIC director Felix Valenzuela of the Livestock Development Council (LDC) gave an overview of the livestock industry in the Philippines and Dr. Eufrocina P. Atabay discussed the program of PCC on current and future research directions on biotechnology.
The resource speakers were Korea’s National Institute of Animal Science scientist Dr. Seung-Soo Lee, South Korea’s Sunchon National University professor Dr. Kang-Seok Seo, Taiwan Livestock Research Institute’s breeding and genetics expert Dr. Ming-Che Wu, and California Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland research scientist Dr. Candice Ginn T. Tahimic.
PCC executive director Dr. Libertado Cruz said that it is important to set sight on considering technologies or systems on traceability as it is already a requirement in the foreign market with “sophisticated” consuming public as the Philippines considers meat export as a potential growth area.
He added that local producers need to consider market requirements on traceability of importing countries to penetrate and be competitive in the meat export industry globally.
Product traceability, Dr. Cruz said, gives consumers assurance on the origin of the products they buy. He added that this is possible by tracing the source of meat through its DNA. Thus, consumers are assured that meat products in the market are safe and screened for quality.
The participants, during the open forum, agreed in unison that this vision of PCC is truly attainable especially now that consumers are becoming wise and selective in their choice of meat products.
DNA-based marker also takes a significant role in aiding genetic improvement in animals. Specific markers are identified for establishing breed purity, pedigree verification, genetic diversity, and component traits associated with milk and meat production, among others.
Biotechnology is likewise a potent tool in genetic defects screening, Dr. Cruz said. “There are many genetic defects in livestock. DNA-based screening eliminates the case of spreading diseases from breeder stocks,” he added.
Dr. Cruz said that this is one important technology that will help breeders determine which animals should be propagated. “It also has important bearing on the fact that the Philippines imports genetic materials,” he added.
In closing, the PCC executive director said, “We are happily collaborating with agencies and the academe concerning livestock research and development. This endeavor gives a perspective on how biotechnology can be applicable to animal industry.”