Firms apply for GM crop import permits

Monsanto Philippines, Inc. applied for five permits while Bayer Philippines, Inc. sought government approval for one, Merle B. Palacpac, head of National Plant Quarantine Services Division of the Bureau of Plant and Industry (BPI) told reporters on Thursday.

Monsanto applied a permit for commercial planting of genetically-modified seeds, Ms. Palacpac said. It also sought to import genetically-modified crop varieties for direct use as food, feeds, and processing. Similarly, Bayer Philippines, Inc. has applied a permit to import a crop variety for direct use. Monsanto and Bayer have previously applied for permits but these have expired.

A new set of permits for four genetically-modified crop varieties are set to expire this year.

A separate permit for a cotton variety that would have contained two or more traits resulting from cross-breeding has already been invalidated but has not yet applied for renewal. This took place after the Supreme Court nullified in December the Department of Agriculture's Administrative Order No. 8 which provided the government's biosafety measures on genetically-modified crops.

"[Permits were approved under the order] are still valid but those that are due [to expire] will be considered as a new application under the [joint department circular]," Ms. Palacpac said.

The official added that each agency involved in the joint department circular -- except for the Department of Science and Technology which has its own rules under its National Biosafety Committee -- is crafting an operations manual of its own. These agencies are the Departments of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, Health, and Interior and Local Government.

The manual should be completed "ASAP (as soon as possible)" since the government is already taking the first step in processing applications.

Permits will be processed and the manual will be drafted side by side to prevent any impediment towards the approval of applications, she said.

Source: Bworld Online