University of the Philippines Los Baños
Tuesday, 27 March 2018 14:28

IBS, IC, IMSP vow to address food security issues


Three giant institutes of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) vowed to support UPLB’s programs and initiatives focusing on food security in instruction, research, and public service as they marked their 35th year as National Centers of Excellence (NCOE) in the Basic Sciences.

This was according to Dr. Felino Lansigan, dean of CAS, under which the Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS), Institute of Chemistry (IC), and Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Physics (IMSP) belong.

Dr. Lansigan articulated this position during the joint anniversary celebration of the three institutes on March 19 at the CAS Auditorium. “We are optimistic and hopeful that with the three NCOEs gearing up their respective capacities focusing on food security, we can achieve more towards realizing UPLB’s goal of contributing to national development,” Dr. Lansigan said.

Dr. Serlie Barroga-Jamias, vice chancellor for community affairs, who attended the celebration on behalf of Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., welcomed the initiative of the three institutes and expressed confidence in them.

“Given the excellent academic and research records of IBS, IC, and IMSP, I am confident that they shall find and develop viable solutions that can help address our country’s food security concerns,” Dr. Barroga-Jamias said.

The directors of the institutes, namely: Dr. Merlyn Mendioro (IBS); Dr. Hidelisa Hernandez (IC); and Dr. Chrysline Margus Piñol (IMSP), and their respective faculty members, staff, and students, were also present.

Three experts who have studied and practiced the application of biology, chemistry, and physics in food security shared their knowledge to their colleagues.

Dr. Rogel Mari Sese, a graduate in BS Applied Physics who leads the National Space Development Program of the Department of Science and Technology, contextualized the use of space technology in food and human security, particularly through satellites and remote sensing.

“From space, we can monitor the patch of land, and from that patch of land, we can know the crops being produced there, let us say, rice; how many cavans of rice can be harvested from that piece of land; and how many days are left before we can harvest from that land,” Dr. Sese said.

On the other hand, chemist Dr. Ma. Concepcion Lizada, professor emeritus at UP Diliman College of Home Economics, emphasized food safety and risk analysis in the over-all issue of food security. She defined food security as “the assurance that available food, if used as intended, does not pose any unacceptable risk in human health.”

In the context of food security and safety, she explained the three processes in risk analysis, namely: risk assessment, the science-based hazard identification; risk management, or identifying measures to control and mitigate the risk; and risk communication, which involves stakeholders.

BS Biology graduate, Dr. Gabriel Romero who is the regulatory affairs lead of Monsanto Philippines, Inc., underscored the roles of biologists in food security based on his professional experience. Dr. Mendioro read his message.

“Food security is the turf of agriculturists, most people believe,” he said. “(But) biology majors can be very versatile, and take up leadership positions in public and private sectors in agriculture. As we need to understand better the biology of crops to make them more productive, biology majors will only be more engaged in the business of food security henceforth.”

IBS, IC, and IMSP, together with three other institutes at UP Diliman, were named as NCOEs through Executive Order No. 889 on March 23, 1983 to “train scientific leaders and conduct research in the basic sciences,” among others. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)