SRA chief: Rules on HFCS regulation out soon

VICTORIAS CITY – The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the regulation of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) importation is expected to be released soon, said Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) chief Anna Rosario Paner.

“We are in the process of coming up with the (IRR) to lay down the specifics to guide the public and the participants on how to go about it. By next week or so, we should be able to come out with it,” Paner said in a press briefing Saturday at the Victorias Milling Company (VMC) Golf and Country Club here.

The sugar order regulating the HFCS is expected to take effect 15 days after its publication on Feb. 22.

Following the clamor of stakeholders to stop or regulate the entry of HFCS, which they claim is killing the sugar industry, the SRA issued a sugar order dated Feb. 17 on the issuance of clearance for the release of imported HFCS and chemically pure fructose in whatever intensity or form.

Under the order, the SRA said that an importer or consignee of imported HFCS must be an international trader duly-registered with the SRA at the time of the application for clearance for release.

“For all intents and purposes, we will treat HCFS as sugar,” Paner said, adding that HFCS would be classified as “C” or Reserve supply.

She said there is no need to import sugar, although “(w)e will always look at the production data. If we foresee… a shortage for example, that will justify importation to make sure that everybody will have access to sugar.”

The SRA administrator said the sugar order on HFCS also requires the importer to make a declaration whether the imported product is genetically modified organism (GMO) or not.

“But it is a mere declaration. We’re not saying if it’s GMO or non- GMO, it cannot be brought in. We just want to be in the know what percentage of importation is GMO or non-GMO,” Paner explained, adding that there is no national law that prevents the importation of GMO products.

Negros Occidental has an ordinance banning GMOs in the province.

Since beverage companies are the top importers of HFCS, there might be a possibility that they will question the sugar order in courts.

Paner responded: “I’m not afraid. I will face it when the time comes. I’m confident about the sugar order.”

The SRA chief clarified the 15-day stay in the start of the regulation of HFCS.

“I’d like to clarify that it’s not a moratorium. We just want to follow what the law says. Due process requires to give the affected industries time to react properly,” Paner said.

“By law and by jurisprudence, we have to follow the 15 days. So it’s not a moratorium,” she added.

Enrique Rojas, president of National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, earlier said he hopes the SRA can rectify the 15-day moratorium and implement the sugar order immediately so there will be no chance for additional HFCS importation to enter the country. (Nanette L. Guadalquiver)
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