Bt Corn Issues in the Philippines

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Issues on BT Corn

The Philippines, being an agricultural country, has been taking steps in the development of the technology for the agricultural sector. Several institutions are studying the best possible ways of increasing crop yield, allowing crops to thrive in different environmental conditions, developing low-cost and eco-friendly fertilizers and eradication of pests. The development of new technology for latter problem has been the main concern of the agricultural crowd because after six years of testing, the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) has approved the first Bt corn for propagation and import for direct use in December 2002.

Bt corn or YieldGuard 818 Corn Borer is a genetically modified organism (GMO), where a specific Bt gene is inserted to produce a protein that protects the corn plant from feeding by Asiatic corn borers (ACB). This makes the corn plant naturally resistant to attack by ACB. The gene used is from the common soil bacteria Bacillus thurigiensis that makes its own insecticidal protein. The Bt protein controls insects by disrupting the insect's digestive system. Once inside the alkaline gut of the target insect, the Bt protein is activated and binds to specific receptors. This mid-gut is punctured leaving the insect unable to eat. Within a few days, the insect dies.

In the six years that it has undergone trial and safety evaluation, it was found that Bt corn is safe foe human consumption because Bt corn is very specific. The Bt protein will only affect an organism (ACB) with specific receptor sites in its alkaline gut where the proteins can bind. Human beings and many insects lack these receptors. Besides, the stomach of humans is acidic. It also does not cause allergy because it is easily digested or degraded in heat. It does not move or leach with groundwater because it binds to soil particles. The proteins do not particularly last in acidic soil conditions. Under sunlight, Bt protein is destroyed very rapidly. With...
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