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The Philippine Carabao Center-Livestock Biotech Center (PCC-LBC), in partnership with the Department of Agriculture-Biotech Program Office (DA-BPO) and National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) - Division XIII, conducted the 5th International Livestock Biotechnology Symposium. This annual symposium enables local and international researchers and scientists together with representatives from the government/public and private sector, non-government organizations, and academe to convene and achieve one specific desire, which is to strengthen agricultural outputs amidst pandemic for a more competitive, profitable, and sustainable livestock industry.

Because of the recent outbreak of global pandemics such as COVID-19, African Swine Fever (ASF), and Avian Influenza, this year’s theme “Research-Driven Innovations Addressing and Mitigating the Impacts of Global Pandemic in the Livestock Industry” brought together various experts from USA, Thailand, Japan, Australia, and Philippines. This two-day webinar symposium was conducted last October 27-28, 2020 through the virtual platform Zoom. The event had almost 400 attendees from different countries, mostly from the Philippines.

Claro N. Mingala, chief of PCC-LBC and OIC-Executive Director of Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), stated that both the emergence and resurgence of a different global pandemic is a threat to everyone’s biodiversity. Lives and livelihoods are at risk from this recent pandemic which could yield a long-term impact on an immense population. With growing globalization, the persistence of animal diseases poses a serious risk to public health and causes damage to businesses and the economy at large.

Roger Merkel, an Associate Professor from Langston University, Oklahoma, USA mentioned that to replace antibiotics, one should promote the growth of the animal, enhance its GI tract health, feed efficiency, and immune function, and reduce pathogenic bacteria found in animals. Two resource speakers have represented Thailand. Dr. Sukolrat Boonyayatra of Chiang Mai University deliberated her presentation on antimicrobial resistance of Bovine Mastitis pathogen while Dr. Rangsun Parnpai talked about the utilization of reproductive biotechnologies for production of Elite Genetics Cattle and Buffaloes.

On the second day, Prof. Shin-Ichiro Kawazu of Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Hokkaido, Japan, presented studies on the development of Babesia parasites using gene manipulation and bio-imaging analysis. The main goal of his Plasmodium and Babesia researches is to understand the basic cellular mechanisms of these apicomplexan parasites. Another speaker is Ms. Rowena Aguilar-Sino a Fermentation Scientist from Australia talked about animal vaccine accessibility in the regional areas. The last speaker for this year is from the University of the Philippines Diliman, Dr. Saturnina Halos. She discussed the regulatory issues on animal biotechnology from Philippine perspective.

To sum it all up, the event became very informative and beneficial to the participants. Submitted queries from the participants were raised and discussed during the last part of each session. Based on a given poll, 83% of them believed that biotechnology is essential in mitigating a pandemic. The event was formally closed by Dr. Eufrocina P. Atabay, OIC, Research Development and Extension Division of PCC, who delivered the closing remarks. Justine Joy D. Salvador

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