Accompanied by ‘mad scientists,’ the giant ‘vegetables,’ representing a tenth of the genetically mutated crop varieties approved in the Philippines, were part of a program that depicted how GMOs have invaded—and compromised—sustainable agriculture in the country.
The ‘monster crops,’ portrayed by Greenpeace activists, were accompanied by concerned citizens and NGOs calling for food safety. The groups are demanding that the DA “stop GMO invasion” by cancelling all commercialization and field trials of genetically-modified organisms in the Philippines.
Among the organizations that joined in delivering the call were: Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE), Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG), Consumers Rights For Safe Food (CRSF), Go Organic Mindanao (GOM), MASIPAG in NorthCotabato, Buklod Tao, Sarilaya, Bayan Muna, and Organic Producers and Traders Association.
“The scene might look funny, but the message is completely serious. GMOs are monsters—they are dangerous to our health, to biodiversity, and to sustainable farming practices. These ‘monsters’ have been attacking the Philippines for the past ten years, aided and abetted by the Department of Agriculture,” said Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
“However, we believe it is the task of the DA to protect the country’s food supply and ensure food security. We are therefore calling on Secretary Proceso Alcala to do what is right by cancelling all GMO approvals and promoting safe and sustainable agricultural methods,” he added.
The DA refused to face the peaceful protesters at the gates to answer the demands in front of a wider public. Ocampo said such lack of transparency is symptomatic of how the DA has been handling the entry of GMOs: “decided by a few, concealed from public scrutiny, with no proper public consultation.”
The DA has never denied approval for any GMO. The Bureau of Plant Industry, its arm tasked with regulating the entry of GMOs, recently announced that it has reviewed and approved 67 GMO varieties, eight of which areset to receive authorization for propagation.
Greenpeace contends that the DA’s track record favoring GMO approvals violates the very foundations of its mandate. No GMO has ever been subjected to long-term studies in confined laboratory conditions to eliminate possible risks to health, the environment, and adverse biological impacts.
Just yesterday, Greenpeace released a report on an independent study showing that the alien genes insertedinto GMO crops can cause the plants to cross-breed to related species and become aggressive, problematicweeds that may threaten to overpower similar varieties.  Organic varieties are thus most susceptible, withorganic farmers threatened with losing certification .
“We believe this is a clear betrayal of public interest, and a scandal that undermines national attempts tomainstream organic and ecological agriculture. What is the merit in approving hundreds of GMO crops? Whilethe country has earned the notoriety of having the most GMO approvals in Asia, we have not gained anysignificant advances in agricultural productivity. In the process health, biodiversity and farmers’ livelihoods arebeing sacrificed,” Ocampo added.
Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, toprotect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.
Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, +63917 8110469, (632) 332 1807 loc 112,
JP Agcaoili, Media Campaigner, +63917 6312750, (632) 332 1807 loc 109,