Greenpeace slaps NFA with Notice of Violation over failure to act on GMO-tainted rice

Feature story - February 6, 2007
Greenpeace slapped the National Food Authority (NFA) with a Notice of Violation for allowing the importation and continued sale of genetically-modified rice which, by law, cannot be legally distributed and marketed for human consumption in the country. Serving the notice was a team of Greenpeace GMO Patrol activists who marched to the NFA’s main office in Quezon City to deliver the demand personally to NFA administrator Mr. Jessup Navarro.

Greenpeace International campaigner, Daniel Ocampo, together with a team of Greenpeace GMO Patrol is accosted by security guards ,Tuesday Feb. 6, 2007. at the National Food Authority (NFA) head office moments before Greenpeace slapped the NFA with a Notice of Violation for allowing the importation and continued sale of genetically-modified rice which, by law, cannot be legally distributed and marketed for human consumption in the country.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner, Daniel Ocampo, together with a team of Greenpeace GMO Patrol (L) talks to Rex Estoperez. head of the Public Affairs Office of the NFA,Tuesday Feb. 6, 2007. at the National Food Authority (NFA) head office moments before Greenpeace slapped the NFA with a Notice of Violation for allowing the importation and continued sale of genetically-modified rice which, by law, cannot be legally distributed and marketed for human consumption in the country.

Greenpeace campaigner, Daniel Ocampo, together with a team of Greenpeace GMO Patrol stands before the entrance of the National Food Authority (NFA) head office moments before Greenpeace slapped the NFA with a Notice of Violation for allowing the importation and continued sale of genetically-modified rice which, by law, cannot be legally distributed and marketed for human consumption in the country.

Greenpeace International campaigner, Daniel Ocampo, together with a team of Greenpeace GMO Patrol (L) talks to Rex Estoperez. head of the Public Affairs Office of the NFA,Tuesday Feb. 6, 2007. at the National Food Authority (NFA) head office moments before Greenpeace slapped the NFA with a Notice of Violation for allowing the importation and continued sale of genetically-modified rice which, by law, cannot be legally distributed and marketed for human consumption in the country.

Greenpeace campaigner, Daniel Ocampo, together with a team of Greenpeace GMO Patrol marches before the entrance of the National Food Authority (NFA) head office moments before Greenpeace slapped the NFA with a Notice of Violation for allowing the importation and continued sale of genetically-modified rice which, by law, cannot be legally distributed and marketed for human consumption in the country.

Along with the notice, the activists displayed a banner with the message "Keep our rice GMO free!" to protest the NFA's careless attitude toward the presence of GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) in the supply of the country's most important staple food. Greenpeace also handed the NFA copies of the new Greenpeace report "Rice Industry in Crisis" outlining the worldwide tide of opposition to GMO rice, with the world's biggest exporters, processors, and retailers, issuing written commitments to stay GMO-free.

"Since last year, Greenpeace has repeatedly alerted the NFA about the presence in the market of GMO-tainted rice banned for human consumption. But NFA consistently refused to respond to the issue. Is the NFA deliberately turning a blind eye to GMO-rice contamination? Or are they so monumentally inefficient they are incapable of fulfilling their task of protecting the country's food supply and the interests of Filipino consumers? The NFA cannot continue to be silent. Today, we are compelling them to publicly answer this issue," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Genetic-Engineering campaigner Daniel Ocampo.

Greenpeace revealed November last year that an imported US rice brand, distributed by Purefeeds Corp of Sta. Ana, Manila, "Uncle Sam Texas Long Grain," was tainted with the GMO Bayer LL601. LL601 is rice genetically altered to resist the powerful herbicide glufosinate. It is illegal (not approved for distribution or human consumption) everywhere in the world

  except in the US where Bayer applied for its marketing approval only after it massively and illegally contaminated the global food chain. The LL601 contamination scandal prompted major rice dealers across the world to commit to GMO-free production and trade, and has led the EU, Japan, and Russia to stringently test US rice imports for the GMO-strain to protect their rice markets from illegal GMO contamination.

"Uncle Sam Texas Long Grain" however, continues to be sold in Philippine supermarkets. The NFA, the state grains trading firm, aside from being the country's leading rice importer, also oversees and regulates rice imports of farmers groups and traders. At the height of the worldwide Bayer LL601 scandal last year, the NFA issued a statement that they will monitor rice imports from the US and prevent GMO-tainted varieties from entering the country. However, the agency ignored the need to monitor GMO-tainted rice already in Philippine shores. Up until now, the NFA refrains from commenting and acting on "Uncle Sam Texas Long Grain." Greenpeace is demanding that the NFA recall the said GMO rice from the market, and prevent further GMO contamination of the country's staple food.               

"But the silence may in part be due to the government's favorable stance toward GMOs. Despite the global movement toward the rejection of GMO rice, the government is on the brink of approving an application for the first GMO rice in the Philippine market. Bayer LL62, also genetically-modified to be herbicide resistant, might soon be approved for human consumption," said Ocampo. "But the NFA must keep in mind that the global Bayer contamination last year proved that GMO rice is risky, causing massive financial damage to the global rice industry. The commercial growing of GE rice must never become a reality; or its impact on the our most important food crop would be disastrous."

"Since last year, Greenpeace has repeatedly alerted the NFA about the presence in the market of GMO-tainted rice banned for human consumption. But NFA consistently refused to respond to the issue. Is the NFA deliberately turning a blind eye to GMO-rice contamination? Or are they so monumentally inefficient they are incapable of fulfilling their task of protecting the country's food supply and the interests of Filipino consumers? The NFA cannot continue to be silent. Today, we are compelling them to publicly answer this issue."

Daniel Ocampo

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Genetic-Engineering campaigner

He added: "Along with governments from around the world, the Philippines must respond to the economic, market and environmental damage caused by the 2006 GMO rice contamination and reject outright any GMO rice food and cultivation applications currently on the table. GMO rice should not be developed as genetic engineering is an unnecessary, unwanted, and

outdated technology that threatens the world's most important staple food."

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More information on Bayer LL601

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