SEARICE calls for the complete pullout of transgenic crops like Bt Corn and banning of Golden Rice.
“The decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) that Bt Eggplant field trial is unsafe to health and the environment is an initial victory for the farmers. For the farmers this has put a hurdle to the corporate push of vending transgenic crops to developing countries like the Philippines that will displace farm-saved seeds and local varieties for planting”.,according to Atty. Mario E. Maderazo, Policy Coordinator of Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment or SEARICE.
SEARICE agrees to the ruling of the CA tribunal that the government has failed to adopt sufficient biosafety protocols in conducting the trials, as well as feasibility studies on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), to protect the environment and people’s health.
The CA noted that, based on case records, the country have yet to have a law governing the study, introduction and use of GMOs. It said what the government has insufficient regulations issued by the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Science and Technology, and the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System of the Environmental Management Bureau. SEARICE added that the Department of Health doesn’t have any involvement at all in terms of safety of GMOs to health.
It may be argued that it is only by testing the BT Eggplant that we would be able to know its impacts to our health and environment. But the crux of the matter is, even in that regard our government lacks the capacity to ensure that the testing process would be safe and contamination can be ruled out.
According to SEARICE, although the decision of the Court Of Appeals is still subject to appeal by the government, there should be a moratorium on the selling of commercialized GM crop like Bt Corn and to scrap the plan commercialize similar transgenic crop like Golden Rice until the adequate regulatory mechanism, technical and institutional capacity not to mention the appropriate consultation process to local government units.
“We call on all newly elected local government officials from agricultural provinces and municipalities to pass local legislative measures to declare moratorium on the entry of GMOs in their respective jurisdiction in accordance with the protection of the general welfare of their constituents,” Maderazo.
“Instead of using public money for the testing of Bt Talong, the government should focus on passing law defining Farmers’ Rights as mandated in the International Treaty for Plant generic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) to which our country is a signatory. Our farmers have enough local varieties that can supply our food and crop needs. All they need is a legislation that will operationalize our commitment to support the Farmers Right so the sector that has fed us since the advent of agriculture will have the capacity to be partners in our economic development,” Maderazo added.
It is also crucial that the government conduct independent research on the technical, social, economic and health aspects of transgenics like the Bt Talong so that we can conclusively establish the risk or value of GM crops, Maderazo further said.
In a 25-page decision penned by CA Associate Justice Isaias Dicdican, the appellate court’s Special 13th Division issued a Writ of Kalikasan ordering the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other concerned government agencies to stop the trials. CA Associate Justices Myra Garcia-Fernandez and Nina Antonio-Valenzuela agreed with the decision.
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children,” wrote Associate Justice Isaias Dicdican. We can only agree.