PHILIPPINES – The Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) has published the rules and procedures for the evaluation of products of plant breeding innovations (PBI).

The regulations provide a science-based and efficient process for assessment and determination of gene-edited plants if they are to be considered genetically engineered (GE) or not.

The National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines defines PBIs as a new set of molecular genomics and cellular techniques for targeted and efficient development of new and improved crop varieties in a faster and more precise manner compared to conventional methods.

According to the regulations, products of PBI with a novel combination of genetic material derived from the use of modern biotechnology are considered genetically engineered and will have to follow the rules and regulations for such prior to release.

Without the presence of a novel combination of genetic material, the PBI product will be considered a conventional product.

The developer must submit a request to the Director of the Bureau of Plant Industry for Technical Consultation for Evaluation and Determination for the PBI product to be evaluated as genetically engineered or conventional.

If the product is declared as non-GE, a Certificate of Non-Coverage from the Joint Department Circular No. 01 (JDC1), s2021 will be released to the developer and to the public.

All PBI products officially determined as a GMO after the conduct of the Technical Consultation for Evaluation and Determination (TECD) shall be monitored by the BPI to ensure compliance with the requirements of the JDC1, s2021 for regulated articles.

The Certificate of Non-Coverage shall not excuse the product developer from complying with other relevant regulations of the Department of Agriculture and other government agencies such as those involving quarantine, pest risk analysis, varietal registration, and crop specific standards and programs, where warranted.

The memorandum, signed by DA Secretary, Dr. William Dar, took effect on May 19, 2022, when it was published in the Philippine Star.

The Philippines recently released its revised biotechnology regulations that aim to improve the administrative process and accelerate the acquiescence of biotech products that impact food security in the country.

The revisions include simplified requirements and procedures and shortened processing time of applications. These amendments will reduce the red tape and speed up the approval process for products of modern biotechnology.

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