DESPITE the country’s worsening environmental condition, Filipinos must not lose hope as nature has “antibodies” to help cure itself.

This was according to biotechnologist Edgar Maranan, recipient of the 2011 The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni (Total) Award for Ecological and Environmental Conservation, who spoke during the 1st Total Lecture Series last Aug. 28 at the Benavides Auditorium.

Maranan discussed biotechnological solutions in solving the country’s environmental problems, particularly bioremediation or the use of “useful microorganisms” as weapons to prevent epidemics, especially diseases brought by floods.

Bioremediation is the use of carefully selected, useful, and non-pathogenic substances to “attack, degrade, and neutralize” toxic and hazardous waste from contaminated soil, wastewater, and decaying river systems.

For the past few years, Maranan used these microorganisms to solve the country’s worst environmental issues, such as removing heavy metal in rivers including lead, mercury, copper, and zinc.

Biotechnological tools were also used to deal with garbage problems in Metro Manila , the May 2011 fish kills in Taal Lake in Batangas, carbon emissions from vehicles, as well as industrial waste dumped in the country’s waters, he said.

Maranan has selected 23 out of 47 microorganisms—including bacillus, lactobacillus, pennicillum, acetobacter, aspergillus, and trichoderma—all of which could be found in the same breeding ground of bacteria, such as slaughter houses, garbage dumpsites, and market places.

“Nandoon din sila (useful microorganisms), nagpupumilit lumaban—talo nga lang,” Maranan said.

However, he warned against imported or exotic microorganisms as they have the tendency to mutate. He instead pushed for naturally occurring microorganisms, as they do not harm the environment.

'Paghirapan ang akda'

Maranan’s bioremediation technology, which he named “eM23,” is the first of its kind in the Philippines. But he did not submit it for patent to allow science students to develop it without legal barriers.

“Malaki ang pag-asa, lalo na kung pangungunahan nating mga Thomasians,” Maranan told students from the College of Science.

Maranan, who graduated Bachelor of Science General in 1971, was the recipient of the Scientific Creative Research Award from the Philippine Inventor’s Commission and the Presidential Award for Science and Technology in 1982 and 1983, respectively. Daphne J. Magturo


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