By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao 

Emil Q. Javier, according to a Presidential Decree signed last Wednesday, received the esteemed title of “National Scientist” for his contributions to the country through agricultural research.

The title and rank of National Scientist is the highest honor given by the President to a man or woman of science in the country. The National Academy of Science and Technology, previously headed by Javier in 2005 to 2012, recommends the recipients “for distinguished individual or collaborative achievement in science and/or technology.” 

The Presidential Decree stated that Javier “played an active role in the efforts to inform the public about the nature of science and its potential to improve people’s access to food and health, and to emphasize the need for high safety standards in both research and production of bio technical innovations.” 

Javier’s contributions in the field of science and technology include spearheading the Institute of Plant Breeding, which the Presidential Decree acknowledges as the Institute that “popularized high-yielding crops and disease-resistant varieties.” 

He also promoted policies that pioneered the use of techniques such as the CRISPR/Cas system, a natural immune defense system enhanced to work in higher plants, and a policy that explained the safety of genetically modified (GMO) crops. 

From 1993 to 1999, Javier served as the 17th President of the University of the Philippines (UP).