Miss Earth Foundation joins Greenpeace call for GMO-free agriculture

Press release - May 22, 2011
Greenpeace held an Organic Cook-out with celebrity chefs and the Miss Earth Foundation to highlight the call for a ban on genetically engineered (GE) food crops, the protection of our organic farming industry from the threat of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and the promotion of sustainable agriculture.

“We welcome the support of the Miss Earth Foundation in our call for a GMO-free Philippines.  We do not need or want GMOs, especially since we have better, safer, more promising options readily available.  If we want food security, we should instead be more aggressively advancing organic farming and other sustainable agriculture practices. Organic methods use local resources and offers opportunities for increasing farmers’ incomes and improving their livelihood,” said Daniel M. Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The event was held at the Mercato Centrale in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, the weekend foodie destination recently making waves for showcasing cutting edge food concepts, especially in the promotion of organics.  Top chef Darren Epp concocted a surprisingly varied course consisting primarily of eggplant, from appetizer to dessert.  He was ably assisted by celebrity host and outdoorsman Kiko Rustia, who is also a trained sous-chef, and by Miss Earth representatives.



“We focused on the eggplant to reiterate that there is no room in our plates for Bt talong (eggplant),” Ocampo added.

Greenpeace has been at the forefront of stopping the commercialization of GMOs in the Philippines. GMO proponents recently have been pushing for genetically modified eggplant to be the first GMO crop in the Philippines to be directly eaten if approved for human consumption, opening the floodgates for other GMOs to enter.

The Bt eggplant was developed through the insertion of genes from the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacterium to give the eggplant the ability to produce its own pesticide.  Thus far, it has proven to be less effective in thwarting pests than conventional methods.  In India, where it was first developed, its commercialization was rejected by farmers, legislators, consumers and scientists.  Typical for GMO food development, confined testing in laboratory conditions have not been thoroughly done on the Bt eggplant to determine conclusively the effects of genetic manipulation on people and the environment.1

GMO proponents have brought the Bt eggplant to the Philippines, planting seeds in seven open field testing sites around the country since late last year.  The tests are meant to determine the effectiveness of the built-in pesticide of the GE crop.  Greenpeace, other non-government organizations and some local government units have been trying to stop the field experiments, especially since these are likely to contaminate conventional and organic crops.

"GMO food crops pose risks to the health of people and the environment.  Their long term effects on soil, on biodiversity, and on consumers are unknown.  Most at risk are our organic farmers.  We have a rich culture of organic agriculture, and this is under threat whenever GMOs are tested.  We reiterate our call for the Department of Agriculture to immediately halt all Bt talong field trials and impose a ban on GMOs in the Philippines,” Ocampo concluded.

Contact Details:
  • Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, +63917 8110469, (632) 332 1807 loc 112,
  • JP Agcaoili, Media Campaigner, +63917 6312750, (632) 332 1807 loc 121,


Notes:

  1. Seralini, G. 2009. Effects on health and environment of transgenic (or GM) Bt brinjal. http://www.somloquesembrem.org/img_editor/file/SeraliniberenjenaIndia.pdf


GMOs are plants or animals whose DNA have been manipulated to accommodate genes from entirely different species, such as a rice crop inserted with genes from a bacteria or an animal.  They are entirely different from crop varieties developed through conventional cross breeding techniques.  Because governments recognize the dangers of GMOs, these crops are highly regulated.

Genetic manipulation is an imprecise and risky process.  Aside from the fact that the resulting genetically modified organisms would never occur in the natural world, the new organism created is a living experiment—its long term effects on the environment, on soil and on biodiversity, are unknown.  GMO food crops also pose risks to health and no long term health studies have ever been conducted.  And because these crops are controlled by giant seed companies, they threaten the livelihood of farmers whose crops are in danger of being contaminated by GMO varieties.

Organic agriculture is a rapidly growing sector of agriculture that focuses on the health, ecology, fairness and care of the farming process.  Organic practices use local resources and offers opportunities for increasing farmers' income and improving their livelihood.

To feed the world sustainably into the future, fundamental changes are needed in our farming and food systeMiss  Greenpeace believes we need a thorough and radical overhaul of present international and national agricultural policies.

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