Philippines asked to ban genetically-modified crops-A A +A
Friday, June 3, 2011
A GLOBAL environmental group on Friday said the Philippines should emulate Thailand, which recently passed a policy discouraging the use of genetically-modified organisms in boosting rice production.
The policy not only protects rice farmers and consumers, but also safeguards Thailand's thousands-year-old rice heritage from the inherent risks posed by genetically-engineered (GE) crops, Greenpeace Philippines said in a statement.
Thailand is currently the world's top exporter of rice, shipping at least nine million metric tons (MT) to other countries, including the Philippines.
Other rice-producing nations such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia are being targeted by GMO promoters as "guinea pigs" for experimental - and risky - GE crops, Greenpeace said.
In 2007, Greenpeace recalled that tons of GMO-contaminated rice from Bayer was shipped undetected to the country from the United States.
The said rice was sold and distributed in the Philippines, despite the fact that it was unapproved and illegal for human consumption.
At present, no country has approved GMO rice except the US where it is still not commercially grown.
"GMO crops are bad for food and farming and this demand is shared by people throughout the region and the world," Daniel Ocampo, sustainable agriculture campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia said.
Assistant Secretary Salvador Salacup, spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture (DA), declined to comment on the issue.
Last Thursday, the government released P3.43 billion to support farmers increase their yields towards achieving rice self-sufficiency by 2013.
Under the National Rice Program, farmers are provided with quality seeds, irrigation, credit and marketing assistance to improve farm productivity and profitability.
The total budget for the National Rice Program for 2011 is P5.217 billion.
In its roadmap, the DA said paddy production is expected to hit 17.45 million MT this year.
This will be increased by 10 percent to 19.2 million MT in 2012 and by another 10 percent to 21.11 million MT in 2013. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)