Greenpeace asks DOJ to junk malicious mischief case in Laguna

Says it’s merely meant to divert attention away from environmental threats posed by GMO field trials

Press release - July 18, 2011
Greenpeace has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to junk the case being filed by promoters of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) who are reacting to the decontamination activity at the field trial site of the University of the Philippines’ (UP) genetically-engineered Bt talong (eggplant) experiment in Bay, Laguna, last February.

In its petition-to-review, Greenpeace points out that the malicious mischief case being filed by the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) against Greenpeace has no merit at all, especially given that Greenpeace took action because the IPB had unleashed GMOs in an open field that posed a serious threat to human health, the environment, and to food security, and is highly likely to contaminate other crops.  The Greenpeace activists merely exercised their environmental rights as informed citizens.

"The Bt talong has already been shown by science to be risky, unsafe for human consumption, and to irreversibly contaminate conventional crops.  These field trials are a violation of the rights of farmers and consumers to safe food, a safe environment and a secure livelihood,” said Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

According to Greenpeace, the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) talong has not undergone thorough evaluation in confined conditions by a safety committee to eliminate risks to health and the environment, and yet is already being released into the environment through field trials, in blatant disregard of scientific requirements such as the Precautionary Principle.  Our food chain is thus in danger of contamination from an experiment. [1]

“These field trials are being conducted without proper public consultation, as required by law, and despite major opposition from farmers’ groups and scientists.  It is the IPB and everyone involved with the release of this GMO that have to answer for such transgressions,” Ocampo added.

The Bt eggplant was developed through genetic manipulation to have a built-in pesticide against the fruit-and-shoot borer insect.  Scientists, such as Dr. Pushpa Bhargava, a leading geneticist who coined the term “genetic engineering,” warn though that the Bt eggplant has not been properly tested for health and environment impacts, much less over generations. [2] GMO crops are patented by biotechnology companies, and thus also pose an additional threat to farmers’ livelihoods.  

In November last year, the City Agriculturist’s Office of Davao went to the Bt eggplant field trial site of the IPB in UP Mindanao to finally stop the open field trials after GMO proponents failed to heed a cease-and-desist directive from the local government unit.  Greenpeace held a similar decontamination activity in the open field trial site in Laguna last February.  The IPB has since been actively seeking legal cases against the environment watchdog and other opposing groups, thus buying time to continue with their open field trials.

Greenpeace points to the fact that respondents to the supposed malicious mischief case have not yet been charged, contrary to statements that have been released to the media earlier by GMO promoters, as proof that such legal actions are part of plans meant to divert attention away from the issue of GMO contamination.

"The only real crime that was and is still being committed in these cases is by GMO promoters who are putting the safety of people and the environment at risk.  These latest harassment attacks by GMO promoters seeking arrest warrants for peaceful protesters are meant to scare people from taking action to protect people’s rights.  Who stand to benefit from these field trials and from silencing Greenpeace and other critics? Certainly not the farmers nor the consumers.  The only ones who will benefit are the biotech companies and their ‘consultants’ who have forsaken proper scientific and academic reasoning just to push GMOs," Ocampo concluded.

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,

 

Notes:

  1. Gilles-Eric Seralini, Effects on health and environment of transgenic (or GM) Bt eggplant, University of Caen, France, and President of the Scietific Council of the Committee of the Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN)
  2. http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/News/news-stories/Greenpeace-calls-on-Philippine-government-to-abandon-Bt-Talong/