In the first part of this blog, we’ve pointed out that GMO proponents are trying to paint critics of genetically modified crops as being unscientific, when it is in fact GMO pushers who are trying to sweep scientific facts under the rug, so to speak, in order to promote GMOs.
GMO proponents are also trying to make it seem that there are neither scientists nor farmers who are trying to stop GMOs. The opposite is actually true.
Among those who signed the petition for writs of kalikasan and continuing mandamus against Bt eggplant field trials in the Philippines are farmers from Davao and other areas where the field trials have been proposed. Farmers and scientist group Magsasaka at Siyentipiko sa Pagpapaunlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) is also a signatory to the petition. Prominent scientists like Dr. Ben Malayang III of Silliman University, Dr. Romeo Quijano of UP Manila, and toxicologist Dr. Wency Kiat of St. Luke’s Medical Center are also signatories.
In fact, Silliman University has issued a statement wherein Dr. Malayang urges that “GMOs must undergo exhaustive assessment.” He said the Philippines is “highly genetically rich and fragile” and that the use of GMOs without the necessary assessment “could put the country into high and undue risk.”
This is corroborated by a Greenpeace report, based on an independent scientific study,which shows that the Philippines is a “centre of origin” and “centre of diversity” for the eggplant, with more than 500 eggplant varieties, including wild and weedy relatives. As such, letting a GMO variety loose through field trials runs a high risk of the GMO interbreeding and overpowering these other varieties.
What does this spell for farmers?
Again, GMO proponents try to twist perception around, trying to make it seem as if their numbers included farmers, while those opposing GMOs do not. They have, in fact,usually included in their press statements quotes from Marcelo Blando, a retired army general who is now using his skills toward promoting agricultural biotechnology amongfarmers, which he uses himself.
Blando has said that the petitioners “seem to have disregarded the voice of the farmers,” when in fact, among the petitioners themselves are common farmers from the affected areas of Bt talong trial sites, not to mention members of organic farmers’cooperatives, who have the most to lose with the environmental release of GMOs.
It seems ironic that organic farmers are required to get certification that their produce is such, while GMOs are not required to even simply be labelled. With such high risks of contamination by GMO varieties, organic producers’ certifications are also highly threatened. The situation has thus prompted the Organic Producers & Trade Association of the Philippines (OPTA) to issue a statement in support of the petition against GMOs.
Blando seems to feel that he is the mandated voice of the farmers even though he has a clear agenda of promoting biotechnology, which sadly includes the GMO eggplant. On the other hand, the farmers who signed the petition are not promoting anything, but are understandably against something that they know and feel are a real threat to their livelihoods.
I’d like to leave you with these thoughts: Why the heck do we need to have genetically engineered talong in the first place anyway? It’s not a staple crop, and we’re not low on supplies. But it is actually a multimillion peso industry, I’ll give you that. So who does the checks and balances when it is the regulators who seem to be doing the promoting...?