The challenge to feed the world’s 7.6 billion people has never been more daunting. Scientists, governments and farmers have come together to promote biotechnology and boost agricultural products in the face of shrinking arable land and global warming. During a recent ASEAN Plant Science Primer event organized by agriculture companies association CropLife Asia in Manila recently, The Jakarta Post’s writer Corry Elyda had the opportunity to observe how some ASEAN countries are making the most of biotechnology.

by Corry Elyda

High costs, back-breaking work and unpredictable yields compelled Rosalie Ellasus to give up on corn farming to experiment with integrated pest management (IPM) after she had finished her college studies majoring in medical technology. She spent a lot of money on pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. To make sure the chemicals worked effectively and did not kill her corn, she had to closely monitor the plants. “I bought 1.3 hectares of land to do conventional farming and it was too much work,” she said. But Rosalie changed her mind after the Philippine government allowed companies to release biotechnology corn seed. Scientifically, such a material is known as a genetically modified organism (GMO) or transgenic organism. Transgenic corn has been genetically engineered to be resistant to pests, herbicides and even drought. With the biotechnology, farming becomes enjo...