Mothers show their activist side on World Environment Day

Press release - June 5, 2013
Quezon City – On World Environment Day, more than a hundred members of Green Moms, a nationwide coalition of mothers advocating for organic foods and breastfeeding practices, staged a creative protest to demonstrate their strong opposition to a genetically modified rice variety called Golden Rice (GR).

Genetically engineered to contain pro-Beta carotene, Golden Rice is being promoted by GMO proponents as a quick fix solution to Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD).  Lactating mothers and children from developing countries have been subjected to Golden Rice feeding trials, sometimes without informed consent.

 

“Knowing that this Golden Rice, which has yet to undergo safety tests in the Philippines, and may be approved for commercialization here in the Philippines provokes fear among mothers,” said Velvet Escario-Roxas, a Green Moms Convenor.

“For moms like us, the best source of nutrients for our children is that what comes naturally, like breast milk.  I would not want my child, or any child for that matter, to be exposed to the risks of consuming genetically modified foods, like Golden Rice.

A Philippine study[1] on nutrition reveals that VAD prevalence in the country has already decreased to less than 5% due to successful government program interventions such as Vitamin A capsule supplementation and micronutrient fortification.

Professor Tess Ramos Perez, another Green Moms Convenor and the former head of the Ateneo de Manila Environmental Science Department explained that Vitamin A, like other nutrients, come from a diversified diet. Families and the government need not spend much for it.  “The country has an abundance of Vitamin A sources like squash, camote, yellow corn, and a variety of other green and leafy indigenous fruits and vegetables.  Instead of allowing genetically modified foods into our market, the government must reinforce programs that will promote breastfeeding and organic gardening among families and individuals,” Ramos added.

“Despite effective, less-costly and proven human and environmentally safe solutions to Vitamin A deficiency, the Philippines still remains to be one of the first countries where Golden Rice is being developed and targeted for commercial release,” argued Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture and Genetic Engineering Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.  

Raising the voice of Green Moms, who stand by their inherent right to choose what is best for their children, Roxas has called on the proponents of the Golden Rice commercial approval to stop treating Filipino mothers and children like guinea pigs.

Roxas lamented the fact that women and children, who belong to the most vulnerable sector of the society, are being exposed to the unknown risks of consuming genetically modified food, particularly Golden Rice.

Ocampo argued that the recent Court of Appeals ruling to stop GMO field trials, particularly of Bt eggplant,  should be upheld strictly by all government agencies and institutions involved in developing GMOs such as the Golden Rice.

“Clearly, as ruled by CA, releasing GMOs into the environment and its long-lasting consequences violates our rights to safe food, environment and health,” said Ocampo.

“Related government agencies must therefore abide by the court’s order to protect, preserve and rehabilitate our environment by putting an end to GMO testing and commercialization,” he stressed.

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For more information, please contact:

Vigie Benosa-Llorin, Media Campaigner, +63917-8228793,  

Note:

[1] Corazon VC Barba PhD, Emerita A Feliciano, Micronutrient deficiency and its alleviation: The Philippine experience, Asia Pacific Journal of Action, December 2002, 11:S371-S376

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