In line with its persistent efforts to familiarize stakeholders on the new guidelines on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the DOST-DA-DENR-DOH-DILG Joint Department Circular (JDC) No.1 Series of 2016, the DOST Biosafety Committee (DOST-BC) Secretariat, participated in the series of public briefings conducted by biosafety partners in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. 

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture—Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA BIC), and the Coalition for Agricultural Modernization in the Philippines (CAMP) conducted three legs of their JDC Public Briefing & Symposium on Agricultural Modernization with the aim ofproviding factual and science-based information pertaining to the science, environmental and food safety, and potential socio-economic benefits of modern biotechnology in the Philippines. The symposia were attended by farmers, students, local government units, as well as members from local industries and the private sector.

Ms. Julieta Fe L. Estacio of DOST-BC Secretariat and Ms. Merle B. Palacpac of DA- Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) both discussed the key features of the JDC pursuant with the mandates of their respective agencies in the regulation of GMOs. The audience were informed about the roles and responsibilities of the National Committee on Biosafey of the Philippines (NCBP) and the DOST-BC under the National Biosafety Framework as stipulated in E.O. 514; as well as the mechanisms for transparency and accountability through Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) that serves as platform for public awareness and information about GMOs and its regulations; and the enhanced public participation and involvement of other regulatory agencies in the risk assessment process. The afteroon session focused on the challenges being encountered by the agriculture sector in the country and the interventions made by CAMP to address such challenges, one of which is making representations in the Senate and Congress for the legislation of laws that will promote the welfare and livelihood of our local farmers.   

The public briefings and symposia were held at Isabela, Iloilo, and General Santos City, respectively; from September to October 2016.