NGO: GMO rice will result in loss of profit

THE contamination of organic rice from the genetically modified Golden Rice poses an economic threat to many organic farmers in Davao Region, an non-government organization representative said.

Lawyer Lee M. Aruelo, associate and researcher of the Third World Network, said during the media briefing on anti-genetically modified rice at the Ateneo Business Center that organic farmers will have an income loss of nearly 100 percent from contaminated organic rice.

"Going organic, in our case, rice, is a trend nowadays and usually they are sold at a much higher price compared to conventional rice. If the farmer's rice is contaminated by the Golden Rice, then they cannot sell it as an organic rice rather it will be sold as a conventional rice, which is sold less," she said.

Aruelo said the hardwork and capital of the farmer would be wasted. She explained that the organic rice is not contaminated chemically but it is contaminated genetically.

"Gene flow, where there is a transfer of genes from one place place another, causes the organic rice to be contaminated," Aruelo said. She said genes are transfered through pollenators.

She said organic rice cannot be certified as and sold as organic if it is contaminated. Aruelo also said organic farmers will also have difficulty in exporting their rice.

"The contamination of genes in organic rice can cause a lot of economic problems to the farmers. Also their hardwork will be in vain," Aruelo said.

Golden rice is a variety of rice that contains beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. The beta-carotene is biosynthesized through genetic engineering. It is developed by Ingo Potrykus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Peter Beyer of the University of Freiburg. (RJL)
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