Greenpeace and MASIPAG ask the SC to uphold the Writ of Kalikasan on Bt Talong field trials

Press release - March 5, 2014
Manila, Philippines— Today, Greenpeace and members of the Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pagunlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) trooped to the Supreme Court to ask that the courts uphold the Writ of Kalikasan on the field trials of the genetically-modified organism (GMO) Bt Talong. The green groups filed their consolidated legal arguments to counter the maneuver by pro-GMO groups [1] who are seeking to overturn the Writ of Kalikasan granted in May 2012 to protect the rights of Filipinos to a balanced and healthy ecology.

The Court of Appeals, in ruling with finality last September 20, 2013, recognized that Bt Talong field trials violate the rights of Filipinos to a balanced and healthy ecology. As such, the CA ordered the GMO proponents to cease and desist from conducting any field trial of Bt Talong and also to protect and rehabilitate the environment. Instead of implementing the order of the court, the proponents petitioned the highest court to review the CA decision.

“Six months after CA upheld the Writ of Kalikasan, the respondents have yet to prove that they have indeed carried out the orders set forth by the court. Instead, after several follow ups, the only information made available to the public was that the field trials have been stopped. However, they did not disclose any concrete plans to check and remedy GMO contamination caused by the field trials,” said Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines.

The CA’s decision prevented the proponents of Bt Talong from applying for commercial propagation or from seeking support and acceptance of the project from local governments in the Philippines. It will be recalled that in early 2010, proponents announced that the Philippines would be the first country where Bt eggplant will be made commercially available after it was rejected in India [2]. Filipino regulators even expressed that they would not be conducting risk assessments and accepted the same submissions submitted to Indian authorities.

“If we are not vigilant, Filipinos will again end up as victims, subjected to the inherent risks associated with GMOs due to the lack of regard of those tasked to regulate and protect our rights,” said Dr. Chito Medina, National Coordinator of MASIPAG. “GMOs should not be the sole jurisdiction of scientists because their long-term environmental, health and socio-economic impacts will affect all Filipinos once they are released outside the laboratories. Why risk our nation’s health in the long run?”

Greenpeace maintains that genetically modified crops like Bt Talong are unnecessary and take away resources that can better be used to further ecological farming. Money and resources spent on GMO research limits capacity for research and development of real, scientific ecological farming solutions. The group continues to call on the Philippine government to focus on developing and supporting ecological farming as a way to boost the country’s agriculture and food production, instead of promoting GMOs or the use of agrochemicals.

Notes to the Editor:

[1] Respondents who filed to repeal the Supreme Court’s decision on the Writ of Kalikasan include the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB), the University of the Philippines Los Banos Foundation Inc. (UPLBFI), the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Environment Management Bureau (EMB) and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).