A BILL has been filed at the House of Representatives proposing to create a new biosafety center to protect the agriculture industry from disease.
In a statement Wednesday, Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda said his House Bill 9265 or the proposed Animal Biosafety Act seeks to establish a National Biosafety Facility and expand the mandate of the Bureau of Animal Industry to include research on cures and prevention of diseases with the potential to affect agriculture.
“While the Department of Agriculture is doing its best to fight African Swine Fever (ASF), we are dependent on the research of other countries… We are able to do so because this is an international problem, but the moment we get problems that only we suffer from, we are on our own. We need our own biosafety investments to protect our own agriculture sector,” he said.
The measure will also require the DA to provide equipment to animal industry facilities to increase their biosafety capability.
Mr. Salceda said the bill is needed as the country stands poised to expand meat imports after the lowering of tariffs for pork imports and increasing the minimum access volume quota for such commodities.
“There has to be a compensating action (to expanded imports). Imports are a risk factor in biosafety. We have to compensate domestic producers for the risk. So, let’s use tariff revenues to invest in making domestic farms safer,” he said.
Under the bill, at least 10% of taxes collected from meat imports will also fund efforts to improve agricultural biosafety within the first year of the proposed law’s coming into force. — Gillian M. Cortez