Visayan legislators seek probe on HFCS importation

Members of the Visayan bloc in the House of Representatives are pushing for an inquiry in aid of legislation on the impact of the importation, use, and sale of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) on the sustainability of the sugar industry.

Bacolod City Representative Greg Gasataya said Thursday that the members of the Visayan bloc are now drafting a manifesto seeking an investigation to be undertaken by the House Committee on Visayas Development chaired by Rep. Alejandro Mirasol of the Fifth District of Negros Occidental.

“The action of the Visayan bloc was in response to my privilege speech delivered on February 6, and the filling of Resolution 754,” he said. “There is a need to regulate the importation of HFCS which really affects the country’s sugar industry.”

In his privilege speech, Gasataya stressed that the importation and continued use of HFCS will cause a very unimaginable proportion of damage to all sugar stakeholders.

He said that aside from inevitable reduction of market outlets for locally produced sugar, living conditions will suffer as poverty and hunger will result to turmoil causing chaos in the erstwhile peaceful island of Negros.

“We cannot afford to create a monster out of our hungry farmers and workers who would possibly settle to engage in illegal activities just to earn money to have food on their tables and be able to send their children to school,” Gasataya added.

On Wednesday, the Bacolod City Council approved a resolution requesting the House of Representatives through Gasataya and the Sugar Regulatory Administration to help stop the unregulated entry of HFCS.

The resolution was authored by Councilor Caesar Distrito, chairperson of the committee on laws, ordinances and good government.

The resolution stated that the importation and entry of HFCS gravely affects the sugar industry, particularly the entire Negros Island Region (NIR).

Distrito said the House of Representatives and the concerned government agencies must take the necessary steps to address the issue to protect the sugar industry and to find out the truth if indeed the corns being used to make HFCS are genetically modified organism, which is not allowed in the province of Negros Occidental and City of Bacolod.

He said the entry of HFCS in the country adversely affects the sugar industry, including the thousands of people whose livelihood heavily depend on it.

Distrito also authored a resolution requesting Coca-Cola Femsa Bottlers Philippines and Pepsi Cola Products Philippines Inc. to stop using HFCS in their beverages and instead make use of the locally produced sugar.

The resolution said that public officials all over the NIR, sugar industry advocates, sugar planters, and workers opposed the usage of HFCS by beverage companies.

“All are unified in saying that its entry in NIR is a threat to the downfall of the sugar industry,” Distrito said.

He said there are reports that HFCS is made from GMOs which are banned from entry in Negros Occidental and Bacolod.

Moreover, Councilor Sonya Verdeflor sponsored a resolution supporting the proposed legislative measure of the House committee on agriculture to conduct a congressional inquiry into the use of HFCS in soft drink products and the proliferation of HFCS in the province.

The resolution stated that the situation created alarm to sugar industry leaders.
“If nothing is done this will result to the downfall of our sugarcane industry,” Verdeflor pointed out./with reports from TDE
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