Last September 8-9, 2016, a workshop on the socio-economic considerations of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was held 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 stipulates 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. (Emphasis added)
The workshop aimed to formulate the conceptual framework on the socio-economic, ethical and cultural considerations for GM crops and products. 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 instrument to be filled out by the proponent.
A second leg of the Workshop, is tentatively set in the first quarter of 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 activity is a joint undertaking by the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) in collaboration with the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS).