“The Philippines has now become the gateway for GMO contamination in Asia under our very noses: Congress should immediately investigate as this is crucial for the environment”, explained Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture and Genetic Engineering Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “The existing regulatory process does not require the mandatory risk assessments of GMOs apart from what has been submitted by companies who own and develop them. Filipinos are unknowingly becoming victims of the government’s flawed regulatory system that has approved more than 80 varieties of GMOs imported for food, feed and processing. Not a single GMO application has been rejected by the Bureau of Plant Industry of the Department of Agriculture under the current regulatory process. These GMOs eventually end up on our table and consumed by us on a daily basis without our knowledge and consent,” he added.
Greenpeace is questioning why the Department of Agriculture has never rejected a single GMO application despite strong opposition from farmers, environmentalists, consumers, organic producers and breastfeeding advocates; the increasing evidence of negative impacts on the environment; as well as studies showing adverse effects on laboratory animals.
“The public is obviously being misled by claims that the only way to achieve food security is through conventional chemical-based agriculture or through GMOs. This claim is a blatant lie, made by those who stand to gain from the use of these agricultural products owned and controlled by agrochemical companies,” added Ocampo. “We need to investigate why the Philippines has become the gateway for GMO approvals in Asia. This regulation process would benefit from some public scrutiny,” he stressed.
AKBAYAN Party List Representative Walden Bello supported the call for a legislative investigation into GMO regulation. Rep. Bello acknowledged the recent Court of Appeals decision on the Writ of Kalikasan against Bt Talong, which states that GMOs violate the rights of Filipinos to a healthy and balanced ecology. “This decision should be upheld by all branches of government,” Rep. Bello said.
“Millions of Filipinos are being turned into guinea pigs as our country becomes a testing site for GMOs that have been banned by governments such as Japan, India, and the European Union members-state. It is high time for us in Congress to intervene. The health and safety of Filipinos should not be risked in the name of scientific progress or profit,” Rep. Bello added.
Rep. Bello also pointed out that GMO cultivation runs counter to the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010-- enacted to direct the government’s program towards the attainment of the country’s food security through sustainable agriculture production.
“The risks that come with GMO cultivation – the destruction of ecological balance, the hazards it poses to the health of the people, and the threat to the economic viability of agricultural products from the Philippines – defeats the objectives of sustainable, organic agriculture. Unconstrained GMO cultivation will reverse all the progress we have made towards achieving our food security targets,” Rep. Bello added.
On 20 September 2013, the Court of Appeals upheld its earlier decision that ordered GMO proponents to permanently cease and desist from conducting Bt Talong field trials and to protect, preserve, rehabilitate and restore the environment.
Instead of risky GMOs, Greenpeace has long called for the government to promote ecological farming, which is universally proven to be more profitable for farmers. It involves intercropping, use of organic pests control and natural fertilizers to ensure adequate, healthy and safe food that are grown in harmony with the environment.
For more information:
Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture and Genetic Engineering Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Virginia Llorin, Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Grace Cabus, Regional Images Officer, Greenpeace Southeast Asia