How biotechnology can address the country’s food problem

There’s another pressing problem that the government and even the private sector should immediately address to improve overall wellbeing of most Filipinos—malnutrition or deficiency of necessary nutrients that would help maintain ideal bodily functions.

Latest information from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) show that rate of chronic malnutrition among Filipino kids from infancy to 2 years of age has already jumped to 26.2%, the peak rate in 10 years. This may lead to poor resistance against common illnesses.

Consequently, rate of stunting among kids under 5 has already reached 33.5%. Stunting affects growth and development of children. Moreover, the same data from the agency linked stunting at the first two years of kids’ lives to intelligence development—they tend to eventually fail their school subjects or worse, drop out of school.

 

Problem and solution
While others may instantly cite poverty as the cause of continuous malnutrition incidences across the country, many experts instead pinpoint to lack of accessible agricultural produce that contain the right and necessary nutrients that people need.

This is how biotechnology could be of use to the country. Through extensive research, scientists develop and create new variants of crops that provide food that is not only more nutritious but also better tasting and possibly less expensive. Moreover, those crops are also designed to be more resilient to withstand extreme weather conditions that prevail in the archipelago throughout the year.

Biotechnology can also make such crops resistant to pests, plant diseases, and even exposure to chemicals. Thus, food production could be bolstered and ensured even if natural calamities hit farming communities.

In the Philippines, among the first genetically modified (GM) crops are corn, lettuce, and tomatoes. Agricultural firms, through their biotechnology research and efforts, have developed hybrid plants that grow with desirable characteristics.


Monsanto’s Supply Chain Lead Erwin Vibal, Corporate Affairs Lead Charina Garrido-Ocampo, and Regulatory Affairs Lead Shermaine Castillo with some students from Project 6 Special Science Elementary School in Quezon City

Fun Kitchen project
Thus, Monsanto Philippines, a sustainable agriculture firm, recently launched Monsanto Fun Kitchen—an educational roadshow that is aimed at underlining the potential of biotechnology in improving harvests and promoting ideal nutrition among Filipinos.

“Everyone deserves a balanced plate,” said Monsanto Corporate Affairs Lead Charina Garrido-Ocampo. “As an agriculture company, we particularly see biotechnology as a novel approach in producing high yield and nutritious produce. Through biotechnology, we’ve developed seed variants that local farmers can grow to provide Filipinos with the valuable vitamins and nutrients they need.”

Monsanto Fun Kitchen kicked off through a launch at Project 6 Special Science Elementary School in Barangay Pag-asa in Quezon City, where more than 500 Grade 6 students participated in fun activities that promote the importance of biotechnology in producing food. The event also shared healthy and quick recipes.

The project will be replicated in other areas across the country to further increase awareness about the benefits of biotechnology as well as share ideal practices on cooking or preparing nutritious meals.

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