The 2013 National Biotechnology Week (NBW), organized by the Department of Education (DepEd) in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and other government agencies, recently honored the country’s top science and technology (S&T) journalists in the 2013 Jose G. Burgos Jr. Awards for Biotech Journalism.

Held last November 28, 2013 at the Century Park Hotel in Manila, the awarding ceremony was topbilled by S&T journalists from Sun Star Davao and Baguio as they took the top honors for their contribution in pushing the frontiers of scientific inquiry through newspaper journalism.

Henrylito D. Tacio of Sun Star Davao won the first prize in the news category for his article “Golden Rice: The answer to malnutrition problem”, while Sun Star Baguio’s Robert L. Domaguen ranked first in the features category with his article “Who is Afraid of Biotechnology?”

According to Tacio, there are several solutions to the problem of hunger, and the Golden Rice, a product of biotechnology, is one possible answer. “We have to share the good things about biotechnology but at the same time, we should not forget the bad things it brings. That way, people will be more responsible,” he added.

Meanwhile, Jenny F. Manogdo of Manila Bulletin got the second prize in the news category for her article, “Genetically modified crops, food safe - FDA.” The third prize went to Business Mirror’s Manuel Cayon for his article “Philippine scientists upbeat on country’s lead in cornering Asian market for biotech crops”.

“Patent issues don’t cover biotech corn”, written by Malaya’s Paul Icamina placed second in the features category. “Provide us with GM seeds, corn farmers ask gov’t”, written by Jennifer Ng, also of Business Mirror, took the third prize.
In the institutional category, Business Mirror placed first, followed by Manila Bulletin and Business Insight.
Meanwhile, Ais Lynn Fabiola G. Manuel of Los Baños Times received the Features Category Special Citation for her article, “BT Eggplants, Anyone?”
The Board of Judges was composed of chairman Dr. Karen Eloisa Barroga, chief science research specialist and head of the development communication division of the Philippine Rice Research Institute; Lourdes Fernandez, Interaksyon 5 editor-in-chief; Angelo Palmones, AVP for news and current affairs of Manila Broadcasting Company; Abraham Manalo, policy and planning specialist; and Jenny Panopio, special project coordinator.
The 2013 Jose G. Burgos Jr. Awards was part of the National Biotechnology Week which ran from Nov. 25-29, 2013. Formerly known as the Gawad Galing for Biotech Journalism, it was renamed Jose G. Burgos Jr. Awards for Biotechnology Journalism in honor of the late Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr. who conceptualized the awards which is now on its ninth year.

It was organized by The Burgos Pen Inc, in partnership with the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications,, the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines , the Biotechnology for Life Media and Advocacy Resource Center, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture-Biotechnology Information Center and the J. Burgos Media Services Inc.

Aside from DOST and DepEd, other government partners for the National Biotechnology Week include the Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

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