Groups urge DA to stop import of GMO products-A A +A
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
COMMUNITY groups in Cebu led by Greenpeace want the Department of Agriculture (DA) to issue a moratorium on the entry of white corn and rice tainted with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as these allegedly endanger human health.
Speaking before the Forum on Food Security at the University of Cebu-Banilad Campus, Daniel Ocampo, Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner, also urged the Department of Health (DOH) to stop companies from using Filipinos in scientific studies on GMOs.
The DOH could not be reached for comment.
DA 7 Information Officer Marilyn Talagon said that since the issue involves policy matters, these should be raised to their superiors.
But she said no GMO product can enter the Philippines without prior study by the Department of Science and Technology and DOH to ensure health protection.
Talagon said every province, city or municipality can pass an ordinance banning the entry of GMO products. She said Bohol and Negros Oriental have such ordinances.
At the forum, the groups protested the Government’s approval of GMOs, particularly “golden rice” and “BT corn,” because these can lead to “widespread contamination” of the Filipinos’ staple food.
Ocampo and Greeenpeace media campaigner Virginia Benosa-Llorin said GMOs are products of genetic engineering, wherein certain traits of one organism are randomly inserted into another organism in an unnatural way.
“These ‘unnatural organisms’ threaten farmers’ livelihoods because they are patented, owned and controlled solely by multinational corporations, and farmers can be prosecuted if they save the seeds for planting,” Llorin said.
Ocampo and Llorin cited the most expensive GMO contamination case was in 2009 in the United States involving Bayer Crop Science LP, which the federal jury ordered to pay $2 million to two Missouri farmers after their rice crops were contaminated with an experimental variety of rice that the company was testing in 2006.
“Filipinos eat rice or corn for every meal, every day. The fact that the Department of Agriculture is bent on propagating GMO varieties like golden rice and BT corn for mass consumption is truly disturbing”, said Roberto Bajenting of the Coalition for Food Security.
“We now see the dangerous GMO corn has cross-bred with normal corn crops. How do we now protect our rice crops to prevent the same thing from happening with GMO rice?” Bajenting added.
Other groups present at the forum were Pagtambayayong Foundation, Bohol Initiators for Sustainable Agriculture and Development Inc., Negros Island Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Foundation, the Muslim Mindanao Halal Certification Board Inc.,
Social Action Center, Diocese of Marbel in South Cotabato, and the Institute for Strategic Research and Development Studies of the Visayas State University.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 31, 2012.