Rural broadcasters convene for better appreciation of biotechnology

A joint undertaking of the Philippine Federation of Rural Broadcasters (PFRB) and the Biotechnology Program Office of the Department of Agriculture which aimed to give countryside communicators a better understanding of the concepts and applications of biotechnology was held at the PCC headquarters last November 14-16.

Some 60 rural program hosts and announcers from government, private, and community or town-level radio stations from Luzon participated in the conference including information officers from different government agencies.

Biotechnology experts and development communication specialists from the PCC, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech), and Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) served as the discussants.

DA undersecretary for Policy, Planning, Research and Development and Regulations Segfredo Serrano served as the keynote speaker.

He clearly emphasized in his message that “biotechnology is not just an option but the government’s proactive action to address the concerns of the future”.

He said that as a country, the Philippines “ambitions to be competitive and food secure” and that we have the right resources “to be able to claim our rightful place among the other great nations of the world.”

While the DA promotes harnessing biotechnology toward food sufficiency, he said “the food must be safe, nutritious, and delicious.”

Otherwise, he added, our efforts to increase production and investment on inputs would be useless.

“We have a risk assessment system that screens if our food imports are genetically modified or not. We must take full responsibility in ensuring that the food that we produce are safe to the environment, safe for the production system, and safe for the consumers. It has to pass an acceptable level of safety,”USec. Serrano said.

His message clearly emphasized that biotechnology is not something to be feared.
“It is science, predictability, and objectivity that will win,” he said.

One of the organizers of the event, DZMM’s “Sa Kabukiran” program host Louie Tabing said the conference was purposively done toward achieving better appreciation of the concepts and applications of biotechnology and its related issues among the rural broadcasters.

The envisioned goal was for the participants to be capable of translating information on biotechnology in the simplest form among their radio listeners. This, he said, will only be realized thru constant communication with the experts and the concerned agencies.

He added that the “meeting was also an occasion for renewing acquaintances and revitalizing camaraderie among the rural media practitioners as well as working relationship between communicators and the science community.”

The second day of the conference was devoted for the discussion of organization matters and projects that included effective program material distribution and program exchange system; prospective scholarship or foreign training for members; group insurance coverage scheme; and other means to help the PFRB members.

The same activity for the rural broadcasters in Visayas and Mindanao is scheduled on November 20-21 at the Crowne Regency Residences in Cebu. About 60 community broadcasting practitioners are expected to attend.