University of the Philippines Los Baños

The School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM), in partnership with the College of Agriculture and the UPLB Food and Nutrition Security/Safety Studies Center, hosted a special seminar on food and nutrition safety in the Philippines last November 20, 2013 at the UPLB Operations Room, Abelardo Samonte Hall, UPLB, College, Laguna. Around 50 guests, including about 30 foreign delegates of a training course on crop-livestock-climate interaction participated in the event.

Three speakers were invited to share with the participants different aspects of the inter-relations of food production and accessibility, nutrition security and food safety.

Dr. V. Bruce J. Tolentino, Deputy Director General for Communications and Partnerships of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) discussed the role of the institute as a research organization in helping alleviate both the increasing scarcity of food and the malnourishment of global populations. According to Tolentino, more and more people are getting less access to rice because of compounding problems caused by the increase of human population and the phenomenon of climate change. IRRI through sound science, according to the official, is not only developing varieties of rice that are high-yielding but also able to withstand extreme climate and environmental conditions as well. More importantly, IRRI is currently developing rice varieties that contain essential elements such as beta-carotene, zinc and others which will help combat micro-nutrient deficiency in rice-eating populations.

On the other hand, Dr. Wilma R. Hurtada, Professor at the College of Human Ecology's Institute of Human Nutrition and Food described the nutritional status of Filipinos in her talk, "Meeting the Challenges of Food Nutrition Security in the Philippines." She stressed that food security should come hand-in-hand with nutrition security, an issue that's not as prominent as the former. Hurtada explained that food security is hollow if the food being consumed does not provide the nutritional needs of an individual. For Dr. Hurtada, to become nutrient secure, one should have the eat the right combination of foods. She ended by discussing the importance having research and planning institutions that are "nutrition-sensitive."

Dr. Edralina P. Serrano, Professor at the Crop Science Cluster - College of Agriculture talked about "Food Safety Issues in the Philippines." She shared that food safety should be of high regard from food production till food consumption. Serrano enumerated various points and issues wherein food safety could be compromised along the value chain. She gave strong emphasis on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) which should be adopted by all food producers. Dr. Serrano also highlighted the role of the academe in helping ensure the safety of food.

An open forum followed every session wherein the participants actively asked questions, gave insights, and shared personal experiences on the topic presented by each speaker.

Associate Professor Filma C. Calalo of the Agricultural Systems Cluster and Dr. Jesusita O. Coladilla of SESAM served as the seminar's facilitators.