The Bureau of Plant Industry Biotechnology Office Steers the Conduct of the Insect Resistance Management Annual Review for the Year 2023

By: Janine Mantilla

The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Biotechnology Office held the two-day Insect Resistance Management (IRM) Annual Review on a hybrid set-up at the Bayview Park Hotel Manila on December 4-5, 2023. This year, the event is organized by the BPI - Biotechnology Office, spearheaded by Ms. Geronima P. Eusebio, M.Sc., hosted by Mr. Raphael Danigem P. Dimaya and Ms. Janine B. Mantilla of BPI-Biotechnology Office, and attended by the IRM Advisory Team (IRMAT), BPI-Biotechnology Core Team-Post Approval Monitoring Group (BCT-PAMG), Department of Agriculture Regional Crop Protection Centers (DA-RCPC), Technology Developers, and Licensees.

The first day of the event commenced with a welcome video message from the BPI Director, Gerald Glenn F. Panganiban, Ph.D., and a warm message of support from the BPI Assistant Director for Research, Herminigilda A. Gabertan, Ph.D. Ms. Sheeb Kaiserin Quiaonza, Senior Agriculturist of the BPI-Biotechnology Office, provided a concise overview of the event's rationale. Following this, Mr. Raphael Danigem P. Dimaya, a Science Research Specialist I of BPI-Biotechnology Office, presented the "Status of GM Corn Adoption in the Philippines," and Ms. Geronima Eusebio, M.Sc., OIC-Head and Supervising Agriculturist of BPI-Biotechnology Office, discussed the "Updates and Timeline Involving Unregistered Genetically Modified Seeds."

In the afternoon session, the activities and policies involving IRM sentinel site monitoring and refuge sampling-testing were revisited to assess the effectiveness of strategies employed to delay the Bt corn’s resistance against Asian Corn Borer outlined in the DA Memorandum Circular No. 2, s2014.

Each participating technology developer—Bayer CropScience Inc., Corteva Agriscience, and Syngenta Philippines—had their dedicated time to present their findings on IRM sentinel site monitoring and related matters. The BPI-Biotechnology Office also shared results on refuge sampling and testing of each technology developer, to strengthen the existing and alternative protocols of the activities, as well as to discuss measures for failed lots.

Additionally, Dr. Srinivas Parimi of CropLife provided updates on the "Unified Refuge Increase Proposal," fostering discussions between the seed industry and the IRMAT. The proposal of the industry aims to enhance the refuge strategies and improve products' durability performance. Dr. Lilia A. Portales, Co-Chair of the BPI BCT-PAMG, brought the first day to a close with a comprehensive synthesis of the day's activities. The presentations and discussions on day one set a strong foundation for the remainder of the event.

During the second day of the Annual Review, an engaging series of presentations took center stage. Dr. Edwin C. Alcantara, Scientist I at the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, shared insights from the ongoing study titled "Post-commercialization of GM Corn Against ACB Phase IV." This study is continuously conducted as part of industry initiative and in compliance with DA MC No. 2, s2014. Dr. Alcantara’s report showed the data on the performance of the Cry proteins against ACB through the insect's mortality rate and concluded that there is still no serious pattern of resistance development.

Following the presentation of Dr. Alcantara, Ms. Alexis Marie Sagisi, Science Research Specialist I of the BPI-Biotechnology Office, delivered her presentation on the “IRM Sentinel Site Monitoring and Refuge Sampling/Testing Protocol” where the procedures for each of the activities were reiterated, and the challenges experienced during their conduct were addressed.

Meanwhile, Dr. Abraham Manalo, Executive Secretary of the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines, presented the findings of the national "IRM Farmer’s Survey 2023.” This survey intends to know and analyze the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of farmers planting Bt corn. Concluding the session, Dr. Ma. Anita M. Bautista conveyed the message from the IRMAT and outlined the prospective ways forward. Bringing the program to a formal close, Ruel C. Gesmundo, the Assistant Director for Regulatory, shared his concluding remarks.

The presentations and discussions on the two-day IRM annual review offered valuable perspectives and set the tone for collaborative efforts in the ongoing efforts toward effective insect resistance management.

 Biotechnology Philippines