Manila – Mothers know best.
This Mother’s Day, concerned breastfeeding moms and children’s advocates came together to call on the Philippine government to stop the approval of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), such as Golden Rice (GR) and Bt eggplant and to ensure protection of Filipino mothers and children against health risks posed by GMOs.
“The government should be promoting organic and ecological food production instead of exposing us to unnatural foods like GMOs,” said Professor Tess Ramos Perez, a Green Moms Convenor and former head of the Ateneo de Manila’s Environmental Science Department.
Green Moms is a network of breastfeeding and child-health advocates, who advocate for safe food as a basic human right for present and future generations of Filipinos. “We want a stop to all GMO testing. If Golden Rice is tested on Filipino mothers, specifically pregnant women, then we will all be subjected to an experiment that compromises both the health of our families and that of the environment,” stressed Perez.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner Daniel Ocampo agreed with Green Moms’ concerns over the health and environmental safety of GMOs. ”Pregnant women and children belong to the most vulnerable sectors of our society and should not be subjected to the inherent risks of GMO crops, such as Golden rice, either through feeding trials or consuming it after commercial approval,” said Ocampo.
The Philippines is one of several developing countries subjected to Golden Rice experimentations, despite opposition from Greenpeace, NO2GMOs coalition and farmers’ groups. In 2002, unknown to the public, field trials of Golden Rice were undertaken in Batac, Ilocos Norte; Tigaon and Pili, Camarines Sur; Maligaya, Nueva Ecija; and San Mateo, Isabela.
Golden Rice is a genetically engineered rice variety developed to produce pro-vitamin A or beta-carotene. Portrayed as a humanitarian intervention, providing a high-tech, quick-fix solution to Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD), but actually is a health problem in many developing countries. Greenpeace says VAD is no longer a health threat in the Philippines, thanks to successful feeding programs focused on providing accessible sources of Vitamin A to the different vulnerable groups.
In China, three officials were sacked last year after it emerged that they had tested 1 Golden Rice on school children without informing their parents that the food was genetically modified.
Greenpeace says the effects of Golden Rice on humans are still to be determined, although independent studies have shown that GMO crops, such as Bt corn and Bt eggplant, cause internal organ damage in small mammals and cause genetic contamination in traditional crops2.
Early this year, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PRRI)—known proponents of Golden Rice – harvested the Golden Rice from their testing sites. Inevitably, the next phase of the experiment will be to test Golden Rice on Filipinos.
“The Philippines already has abundant edible micronutrients and Vitamin-A rich vegetables, root crops and even seafoods,” said Richelda Talle, a Green Moms Leader and an indigenous food chef. “It makes more sense for government to protect the country’s traditional food resources and empower Filipino farmers, rather than promote dependency on market-led artificial food importation,” she stressed.
“We should never allow ourselves to be helpless victims in what is essentially a dangerous human experiment. There are existing effective solutions to Vitamin A deficiency that cost less and do not pose threats to our health and environment. The Philippine government should ban further experiments of GMOs and should instead focus on agricultural and food production that looks at the welfare of our people and our environment,” added Ocampo.
For more information:
Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, +63917-8110469,
Virginia Llorin, Media Officer, +63917-8228793 Email: