Rice is the Philippines’ main staple and is also consumed by more than half of the world’s population every day. The diversity of our rice is a valuable resource for developing new varieties with improved yields and can withstand diseases and environmental conditions without compromising human health and the environment. However this resource is now being threatened by plans to release and commercialize Golden Rice to address Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) in the country.
However, these should be our concern:
► Golden rice is a genetically engineered crop, that can have irreversible damage to health, food security, environment, culture, farmers and communities. More than 60 countries have imposed moratoria or outright bans on GMOs to adopt the precautionary principle.
► The Philippines does not have a biosafety law nor the capacity and resources to conduct robust risk assessments for GMOs intended for field testing, food, feed and propagation. The current regulatory process for GMOs is flawed and is only based on risk assessments conducted by the company who owns these GMOs.
► Any deliberate release of GMOs can contaminate conventional crops. This also means that the more than 63 GMOs allowed for importation for food, feed and processing and 8 GMO corn varieties allowed for commercial propagation in the country actually challenge the integrity of the 2010 National Organic Agriculture Act.
► Covered by expensive patents, Golden Rice and other GMOs can deprive farmer’s access, control and stewardship over plant genetic resources which have been nurtured, exchanged and shared across communities for generations.
► The incidence of VAD have been significantly reduced to 15% for children as of 2008 and there are already solutions in place to address VAD and other micronutrient deficiencies. The funds that are being wasted on Golden Rice research and development should instead be used on solutions that are already working which include fortification of foods and Vitamin A supplementation capsules. Having a diverse diet is still the best solution to VAD.
Say no to Golden Rice! Let us demand access to safe, healthy, nutritious and sufficient food that is produced through ecological agriculture.