Mindoro farmers uproot Bt Corn plantation

Feature story - September 15, 2005
Oriental Mindoro, 15 September 2005 - Farmers, agricultural and government officials in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro today uprooted a plantation of genetically engineered Bt Corn and demanded for a GMO-free Mindoro.

Naujan,Oriental Mindoro,Philippines- Farmers, agriculture and goverment officials uproot a plantation of genetically engineered BT Corn and demand for a GMO free Mindoro.The farmers,wearing HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials) suits are assisted by Greenpeace volunteers in packing and sealing the uprooted corn in plastic drums.

Naujan,Oriental Mindoro,Philippines- Farmers, agriculture and goverment officials uproot a plantation of genetically engineered BT Corn and demand for a GMO free Mindoro.The farmers,wearing HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials) suits are assisted by Greenpeace volunteers in packing and sealing the uprooted corn in plastic drums.

Naujan,Oriental Mindoro,Philippines-Farmers, agriculture and goverment officials uproot a plantation of genetically engineered BT Corn and demand for a GMO free Mindoro.The farmers,wearing HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials) suits are assisted by Greenpeace volunteers in packing and sealing the uprooted corn in plastic drums.

Around 15 farmers dressed in suits for handling hazardous materials, along with the mayor and vice mayor of Naujan, took part in uprooting corn from a farm which was voluntarily offered by its owner for decontamination. Greenpeace volunteers assisted the group in packing the uprooted corn in plastic bags and sealed them in drums. More than 30 farmers and staff from the municipal agricultural office were present to offer their support.

GMOs have been banned in Oriental Mindoro since June last year, but implementation of the law has been undermined by GMO seed developers like Monsanto which has actively promoted and sold Bt Corn in the province.

"It is clear that small farming towns like Naujan do not want GMOs but companies like Monsanto are intent on gaining profits at the expense of farmers and our environment," said Greenpeace Genetic Engineering Campainger Danny Ocampo.

In the report entitled The Economics of Bt Corn: Whose Interest Does It Really Serve? Greenpeace detailed farmer experiences (including in Mindoro) on the exorbitant cost of planting GE corn over conventional varieties. Bt Corn seeds can cost as high as P4,400 to P5,000 per 18- kg bag; in contrast conventional corn varieties cost a lot lower, starting from P1,500 for conventionally bred hybrid seeds to as low as P460 for Open Pollinated Varieties (OPVs). Bt Corn varieties also require higher fertilizer inputs(1), which makes it clear from the beginning that planting Bt Corn comes at a huge premium that most farmers cannot recover from.

Monsanto's violation of the ban "threatens [Naujan's] programs endorsing cheaper and safer alternatives to control pests and increase harvests," stated Municipal Agriculturist Ely Vargas.

Naujan has also been striving to become the capital of organic farming in Mindoro. Earlier, Mayor Bert Mendoza called on the local community to "support organic farming and totally prohibit the entry of GMO in the province."

"Farmers in Naujan reject Bt Corn as an option," said Ocampo. "The Department of Agriculture must listen to them and protect their interests rather than be subservient to multi-national agro-chemical companies like Monsanto which owns the patent on Bt Corn,"

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organization which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.

(1)The Economics of Bt Corn: Whose Interest Does It Really Serve? Greenpeace, June 2005

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