Greenpeace "I Love My Rice GMO-FREE" campaign goes south

Heritage restaurants join drive to protect the country's staple food

Feature story - September 27, 2008
The road to GMO-free rice leads south of Manila this weekend as leading heritage restaurants join the Greenpeace 'GMO-free rice restaurants' campaign to protect rice from the threat of genetically-modified organisms or GMOs.

Greenpeace Activists wave post-harvest rice stalks at the Philippine Department of Agriculture in Manila,to remind the government to keep the country's rice supply free of risky contamination from genetically-modified (GMO) varieties.

Kusina Salud in San Pablo, Laguna, Kinabuhayan Café in Dolores, Quezon, and Casa Rap in Batangas, popular out-of-town destinations known for their innovative takes on traditional Filipino cuisine, are now part of the Greenpeace advocacy campaign 'I Love My Rice GMO-free.'

As part of the campaign, the restaurants have pledged to promote GMO-free rice to help protect Philippine rice supply from risky genetic-modification.  They will serve only GMO-free rice and will support Greenpeace's information drive about the dangers of genetically-modified food crops.

The restaurants are joined by First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities in Tanauan, Batangas and organic farming advocacy NGO Susi Foundation in Tiaong, Quezon.  All establishments are part of Viaje del Sol, a consortium of heritage restaurants, artists' workshops, and sustainable tourist destinations forming a cultural loop in Laguna, Batangas and Quezon Provinces.

"Greenpeace is pleased to welcome Kusina Salud, Kinabuhayan Café, and Casa Rap into the growing public movement to keep the country's rice supply free from genetic-modification.  The country's leading heritage restaurants share the conviction that GMO rice should not be sold, planted or eaten in our country as genetic engineering of food crops poses serious threats to the environment, human health, and to farmers' livelihoods," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Genetic Engineering Campaigner Daniel Ocampo.

"Kusina Salud joins Greenpeace in promoting GMO-Free rice as part of our commitment to become a sustainable tourism destination.  Like Greenpeace, we believe that rice, our most important staple, is an integral part of Filipino life and culture.  We must therefore do what we can to protect it," said Kusina Salud owner Nina Poblador.

The 'GMO-free rice restaurants' campaign, which aims to gather the commitment of restaurants around the country to serve only GMO-free rice, was launched last August 27 at Fish and Co. in Ortigas Center with Bistro Group of Companies (Fish and Co., Italiani's, TGI Friday's and Flapjacks) as the first to sign on to the environmental campaign.

Greenpeace campaigns for GMO-free crop and food production that is grounded in the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity and providing all people access to safe and nutritious food. Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates  the environment, threatens biodiversity and poses unacceptable risks to health.

Notes: 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. Greenpeace has been at the forefront of the campaign to prevent the release of GMOs into the environment. Last year, the environment group launched the 'I love my rice GMO-free' campaign. No GMO rice has is approved for human consumption or propagation in the Philippines, but GMO rice from the United States have slipped into the country at least twice, despite measures by the National Food Authority to ensure that US rice imports are GMO-free. At present, an application for the approval of a GMO rice variety is lodged at the Department of Agriculture. If the application is approved, the Philippines may become a dumping ground of GMO rice rejected by other countries.

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