Manila Bulletin wins top institutional award for biotech journalism

The Manila Bulletin won the top prize for the institutional category in the annual Jose G. Burgos Jr. Awards for Biotech Journalism.

Second prize went to Business Mirror while the Philippine Star took the third prize.

The awards  held at the IMAX Theater of the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.  Cash prizes and trophies were given for Best News Story and Best Feature Story.  The awards covered stories published from July 2009 to August 30, 2010.

In the news category, Paul Icamina of Malaya took the top prize for his “Pinoy savants developing flood-tolerant rice,” while Lyn Resurreccion of Business Mirror won second prize for the story “China ‘Bt’ rice OKd to boost supply.”

Jennifer Ng, also of Business Mirror, snatched the third prize for “Bt eggplant farmers can hike yield per hectare by 317 percent.”

The board of judges gave a special citation to Helen Flores of the Philippine Star for writing “USM experts develop 6 new HYV corn varieties.”

For features, Lyn Resurreccion of Business Mirror got first prize for “Worm-free ‘talong,’” followed by Anjo C. Alimario, also of Business Mirror, for his “RP needs strong animal biotech program.”

Rudy Fernandez took the last prize for writing “GM corn production now a multi-billion-peso industry” for the Philippine Star. The awards started in 2006 to honor the memory of Jose G. Burgos Jr., a press freedom icon and publisher of We Forum and Pahayagang Malaya, recognizing members of the media who have given particular focus on biotechnology.  The Awards was established to celebrate the spirit in which he conceived of the Awards itself—to encourage journalists to push the frontiers of scientific inquiry.

Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje keynoted the awards rites.

Dr. Edita T. Burgos launched the Jose G. Burgos Jr. Awards for Biotech Journalism Trust Fund and introduce the members of the board of judges for this year’s awards.

Burgos, Abraham Manalo, executive secretary of the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines (BCP) and Dr. Aida Adalla of the Biotechnology Program Office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) awarded the prizes.

Lending support to the effort to encourage journalists to do serious work in agriculture and science reporting with special focus on biotechnology are, among others, the Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Program Office, Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines (BCP), Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture  (SEARCA) and Biotechnology for Life Media and Advocacy Resource Center (BMARC).

The Awards was part of the weeklong celebration of National Biotechnology Week (NBW) started in November 22 at the Nido Science Discovery Center, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City and ended on Nov. 28.

This year’s theme was ‘Bioteknolohiya para sa Kalikasan, Kalusugan, Kagandahan, Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran,” an encore of the previous year and with the sub-theme”  “Ok ang 5K sa Biotech: Pagyamanin, Ito ay Atin!” to reiterate biotechnology’s ever increasing role in the society, particularly in the areas of nature and biodiversity, health and wellness, livelihood and industry and economy.

“The theme indicates that we have not only begun reaping the benefits of biotechnology, but are ready to utilize it to address challenges in agriculture—most notably climate change and the easing up of trade barriers, prompting industries to raise competitiveness,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said during the opening of the said event.

“Kasabay nito ang ating paglalagay ng mga kinakailangang infrastructure at pagbibigay ng sapat na kaalaman sa mga magsasaka at mangingisda.  Ang mga ito, kasama ang pakikiisa ng mga lokal na opisyal, pribadong sektor at farmers’ association, ang magiging daan para makamit ang food security at higit na kita para sa mga magsasaka,” Alcala added.

Part of the opening salvo of the Biotechnology Week was the launching of the elegant NBW Coffee Table Book and the colorful NBW exhibit. A replica creatively set in Filipino urban and rural village, complete with nipa huts, the exhibit showcased locally developed biotech researches and technologies that can used and appreciated at the community level.

There were different forums on interested topics organized by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) like the Scientific Forum on Climate Change and Biotechnology; Biotech for Kids; Public Forum on Healthcare Biotechnology; Stem Cell Technology; Food Fortification; BioPharmaceuticals; Forum on Natural Ingredients, etc.

NBW was institutionalized on November 9, 2007 through Pres. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo’s Presidential Proclamation No. 1414 which set the yearly NBW celebration every last week of Novemeber.  The proclamation supports Pres. Arroyo’s recognition of the various potentials and applications of biotechnology in agriculture, environment, health, industry and economy.

“According to the United Nation, in 10 years, kahit may pera pa tayo na pambili ng imported na produkto, some countries will no longer sell their products, because they need to secure the foods for their nationals.  So saan tayo bibili kung wala na yung local producers natin na naeengganyong mag-produce ng pagkain? May pera man tayo pero wala na tayong mabili.  So let’s support the biotechnology and help us campaign the banning of the imported pork and chicken that is so rampant now in the country,” AGHAM Partylist Cong. Angelo Palmones said in his message during the closing ceremony of the Biotechnology Week.

The Department of Education awarded the winners of First National Search for Young Innovators and Researches on Biotechnology, 2010.

The 4th year students from Regional Science High School, Malasiga San Roque, Zamboanga City received P100,000 and trophy as First Prize in Research category, “Phytochemical Analysis on Sesbania grandiflora var coccinea Pink Flower Petals Extract (Katuray).  Their coach/Adviser is Ms. Noreen T. Catis.

For the Innovation category, First Prize goes to Honny Mae Pascua, 4th Year student, Regional Science High School, Cagayan Valley Campus, Tumauini, Isabela, Region II, “Improving the Traditional Method In making Bagoong from Fish Paste to Powdered Form.  She received the cash of P50,000 and trophy.  Her coach/adviser is Ms. Ma. Teresa A. Natividad. Linda Bohol/Biolife News Service

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