Writ of Kalikasan granted against Bt Talong field trials

DA’s flawed GMO approval system must be scrutinized: Greenpeace

Press release - May 12, 2012
Quezon City -- Greenpeace today called for greater scrutiny of the country’s GMO approval system as it welcomed the Supreme Court decision to grant a Writ of Kalikasan in favor of the petition to stop field trials of the genetically-modified organism (GMO) Bt eggplant in the Philippines.

“Greenpeace believes the granting of the Writ of Kalikasan to be a recognition of the threats that GMOs pose to human health and the environment.  We welcome this as a positive development:  GMOs and GMO field trials clearly violate every Filipino’s constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology, and their invasion into our fields and our diets must be stopped,” said Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“The Supreme Court has given hope to Filipinos as its decision now puts into the spotlight the country’s flawed GMO approval system which has never rejected any GMO application, allowing dangerous GMO crops to be eaten and planted by Filipinos.  This is an outrage and such a regulatory system which clearly disregards public good must be scrapped,” he added.

There are serious uncertainties regarding the safety and long-term impacts of GMOs.  Many independent scientific studies provide clear evidence that GMOs such as Bt eggplant, as well as Bt corn, can negatively impact the liver, kidneys or blood when ingested.  These man-made organisms, when planted in open fields, have also been found to crossbreed with natural species, endangering biodiversity.[1]

Last April 26, the environment group, along with fellow petitioners, filed a petition asking the Supreme Court for a Writ of Kalikasan and Writ of Continuing Mandamus[2] against GMO field trials.  The petition seeks to immediately stop the field trials of Bt eggplant.  It also puts into question the flawed government regulatory process for approving GMOs, and highlights the need for a genuine and comprehensive process of informing and consulting the public, as well as ensuring the safety of GMOs first on health and environmental grounds before they are released into the open.

Despite the scientific doubt that surrounds GMO food crops, the Philippines has never rejected any GMO application, approving, since 2002, a total of 67 GMOs for importation, consumption and/or propagation.  Most of these GMOs are approved as food for Filipinos.  Several varieties of Bt corn have already been approved for planting, and are now being eaten, despite questions on their safety.  Ironically, while other countries are taking the precautionary approach to GMOs because of the dangers they pose to human health and the environment, the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) has done exactly the opposite.

Greenpeace contends that the DA’s track record favoring GMO approvals violates the very foundations of its mandate.  The environment group states that both the approval process and the regulators, including the DA’s scientists, must be scrutinized.  In 2007, Greenpeace revealed that the scientists who regulate and approve GMOs are the same ones who are paid to promote and propagate them [3].  The regulatory process has therefore become the means by which a small group of scientists and government bureaucrats conspire to serve the interests of multinational agro-chemical companies, instead of upholding public good.

“We hope that this Writ of Kalikasan will compel the DA and GMO regulators to review their agenda independent of pressures and influence of multinational GMO corporations.  We are also calling on Filipinos to be more vigilant in protecting our food and calling on government to be accountable for regulations that go against protecting our health and environment,” Ocampo concluded.

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For more information:

Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, +63 9178110469,

AC Dimatatac, Media Assistant, +63 9178686451,

Notes:

[1] http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/seralini_study_MON863

http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/releases/Greenpeace-report-reveals-scientific-doubt-on-safety-of-Bt-eggplant/

http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/releases/Bt-talong-unsafe-and-dangerous-to-environmental-health-report/

[2] A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy under Philippine law available to individuals, groups, and organizations, on behalf of persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, or threatened with violation, by a private individual or entity, public official or employee, involving environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.

A writ of continuing mandamus is a legal remedy under Philippine law available to injured persons when any agency or officer of the government unlawfully neglects the performance of an act, excludes another from the enjoyment of rights, and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.

[3] http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/reports/ties-that-bind-regulatory-cap/

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