Greenpeace lauds Davao City order to terminate Bt eggplant trials

Censures DA for failure to monitor biosafety requirements

Press release - December 17, 2010
Greenpeace lauded the Davao City government for issuing a cease-and-desist order against the conduct of field trials of genetically engineered (GE) Bt eggplant, and demanded the UP Mindanao Campus in Bago Oshiro to immediately heed the directive and stop the risky open field experiment to prevent further contamination from the genetically modified organism (GMO).

“Davao City has done the right thing issuing the cease-and-desist order on this risky experiment especially since Bt Talong proponents have openly disregarded the city resolution against the GMO field trials.  We applaud Davao City’s firm stance and are calling on other local governments to follow their lead.  No GE crop has ever been proven safe to the environment and human health, and they cannot be recalled once they are released into the environment,” said Daniel M. Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“These field trials should never have been conducted given the opposition already made by local governments and the public, and given the scientific evidences of the risks of field testing that were presented during the public consultation in September [1],” he added.

In the order, sent to the UP Mindanao Chancellor’s office and dated December 13, 2010, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte cited the lack of public consultation on the part of proponents, prior to their field trials, which is a requirement for regulated articles under the Department of Agriculture (DA).  The cease-and-desist order directs UP Mindanao to immediately stop field testing operations and remove all existing Bt Talong specimens in the site.

Earlier, Davao City and the two Barangays adjacent to the UP Mindanao campus (Mintal and Bago Oshiro) have all passed resolutions against the conduct of any Bt Talong field trial in the area.

While lauding the efforts of local governments in seeking to halt field trials in several provinces all over the country [2], Greenpeace criticized the Department of Agriculture for failing to regulate the conduct of trials that are already underway, even though these did not first pass adequate and accurate scientific testing in confined laboratory conditions.

Those developing the Bt eggplant have employed technical jargon – calling the ongoing experiments “confined field tests” instead of field trials -- as a workaround against having to first conduct (and pass) safety tests in confined laboratory settings.  Greenpeace maintains that any GE crop outside the confines of the laboratory already poses risks to the environment and human health. [3] A vast majority of GE contamination incidents are caused by experimental field trials, such as the PRSV Papaya in Thailand [4] and Bayer’s LL601 in the US [5].

NGOs and communities in Davao will be behind the City Agriculturist’s Office in implementing and monitoring compliance to the cease-and-desist order.

“We support the call for the immediate uprooting of the Bt talong in UP Mindanao before it reaches flowering stage and puts our health and environment in danger. Shame on UP Mindanao for going ahead with the field testing in spite of the opposition of the city government and the villages hosting the university, and the advice of the rest of the scientific community,” said Nena Morales of Go Organic Davao City, a network that promotes organic agriculture and supports the city’s organic agriculture ordinance.

Greenpeace is campaigning for agriculture that is good for the planet and people; Healthy food grown with the environment — not against it; Farming that helps cope with climate change.

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Notes to Editors:

[1] On September 30, 2010 as requested by the City Agriculture office a public hearing was conducted in Ateneo de Davao University with Dr. Pushpa Bhargava and Dr. Eufemio Rasco as speakers. This was co-organised by Greenpeace with Go Organic Mindanao (GOM) and various stakeholders.

[2] Cotabato and Leyte.[2] The seven field trial sites: Sta. Maria, Pangasinan; UPLB, Laguna; San Jose, Pili, Camarines Sur; Visayas State University, Leyte ; University of Southern Mindanao, Kabacan, North Cotabato; Sta. Barbara, Iloilo; UP Mindanao, Davao. In Sta. Barbara, Iloilo, the municipal government has already passed a resolution opposing the field trials. Similar resolutions are being prepared in North

[3] www.gmcontaminationregister.org

[4] In 2004 Greenpeace research discovered that Papaya in the Northeast of Thailand was contaminated by the Papaya Ringspot Virus resisted GE variety. The contamination came from a government research farm in Khon Kaen. http://gmcontaminationregister.org/index.php?content=re_detail&gw_id=20&reg=0&inc=0&con=0&cof=4&year=0&handle2_page=

http://gmcontaminationregister.org/index.php?content=re&reg=0&inc=0&con=0&cof=7&year=0[5] LL601 is a genetically modified rice developed by Bayer resistant to the toxic herbicide liberty link and was field tested in 2001. In 2006 this unauthorised and illegal GE rice was found to have contaminated US rice exportsand has led to losses of more than USD 1.2 Billion for the US rice industry.

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Contact Details:

  • Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, +63917 8976416, (632) 4146512 loc 112,
  • JP Agcaoili, Media Campaigner, +63917 6312750, (632) 414 6512 loc 121,

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