Experimental GE crops are a public risk and field trials must be halted -- Greenpeace

Press release - June 7, 2011
Experimental GE crops such as Bt Talong pose serious environmental and health risks and all citizens have a duty to ensure that open air planting of such are immediately stopped, Greenpeace said today in a statement.

“Greenpeace has repeatedly sounded the alarm regarding the dangers of open field trials of Bt eggplant ongoing in some provinces in the country.  Unfortunately, these field trials commenced despite the lack of proper public consultation, and despite major objections from farmers’ groups, environmental and food safety organizations and civil society,”  said Daniel Ocampo, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner.

“Bt Talong has already been proven to be risky, unsafe for human consumption, and irreversibly contaminates conventional talong crops of ordinary farmers.  What is in contention here is Bt Talong and why—in the face of such overwhelming evidence—any institution should support a corporate experiment that goes against all that is good and beneficial to the public,” he added.

Last February 17, a Greenpeace decontamination unit removed genetically-engineered Bt eggplant from a field trial site in Barangay Paciano Rizal in Bay, Laguna.  The move was able to prevent any further environmental contamination from the hazardous GE crops.

Greenpeace has called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) to:

  1. halt all Bt eggplant field trials in the Philippines and decontaminate all existing field trial sites with immediate effect;
  2. implement the Organic Agriculture Act and ban genetic engineering of all food crops in the Philippines; and
  3. take an active role in supplying sufficient quantity and quality of non-Bt seeds and support organic and ecological agriculture practices.

Bt eggplant field trials commenced in 2010 despite massive protests by farmers and consumers.  Of the seven selected trial sites, Davao City, Baybay in Leyte, and Sta. Barbara in Iloilo, have issued municipal and barangay resolutions banning the field trials.  Field trials were also conducted in Davao city last October but the plants were uprooted by the local government to uphold a resolution banning the trials.

The Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) eggplant is genetically-modified to contain a built-in toxin to kill the fruit-and-shoot borer insect.  It is currently not approved in any country including in India where the technology was sourced for use in the Philippines.  Last February 2010, the government of India passed a moratorium on Bt eggplant commercialization to protect the country’s agriculture.  In its decision, the Environment Ministry said that the science behind Bt eggplant is inadequate to answer the concerns raised by civil society groups, and that the country’s GMO regulatory system is inadequate.

An analysis of India’s Bt brinjal (eggplant) biosafety data by Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini, a French scientist, released in 2009 shows that the GMO eggplant is unsuitable for human consumption.  The analysis concluded that Bt brinjal released into the environment, for food or feed, may present a serious risk for human and animal health.

“Greenpeace is calling on the Department of Agriculture to show their commitment to food, farmer and consumer safety by immediately cancelling all remaining field trials.  The public has the right to safe food and a safe environment.  If the authorities, in this case the Government, fail to uphold those rights it is legitimate for others to do so,” said Ocampo.

-END-

Contact Details:

Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, +63917 8110469, (632) 332 1807 loc 112,

JP Agcaoili, Media Campaigner, +63917 6312750, (632) 332 1807 loc 121,

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