Philippines Supreme Court bans development of genetically engineered products

Press release - December 11, 2015
Manila - Farmers and consumers, together with environmental organization Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG), and other petitioners, welcome the permanent ban on field trials of Bt talong and the temporary ban on the development of genetically modified organisms (GMO)s in a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the Philippines which was announced earlier this week.

The high court upheld the decision of the Court of Appeals which granted the Writ of Kalikasan to Greenpeace Southeast Asia, as well as several activists, academics, and politicians, in what the petitioners call ‘a major victory for Filipino farmers’.

The Supreme Court affirmed the May 2013 Court of Appeals order for the government to prepare an immediate plan of action to rehabilitate field trial sites and protect, preserve, and conserve the environment, and recommend policies and measures to reform the present regulatory process.

The temporary ban is in place until a new ‘administrative order’ takes effect, and includes the highly controversial ‘Golden’ rice, an experimental project by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) that is currently back at the laboratory stage due to poor performance [1].

The Supreme Court decision sets a global precedent as it is the first legal decision on GMOs in the Philippines using the writ of kalikasan (environment) - a legal environmental remedy found only in the Philippines. The court is also the first in the world to adopt the precautionary principle - that it is best to err on the side of caution in the absence of scientific consensus - regarding GMOs in their decision.

The decision of the high court means that the DA and the Department of Science and Technology are barred from issuing any approvals for genetically modified (GM) crops pending the crafting and approval of a new Administrative Order. The court order will also have an impact on the trading of GM crops. In 2014, the US exported US$ 784M worth of GM crops and products to the Philippines [2].

“It is high time that the Philippine government also looks at new, innovative and science-based ecological farming,” says Virginia Benosa-Llorin, Food and Ecological Agriculture Campaigner Greenpeace Southeast Asia -  Philippines.

Notes to Editor:

[1] The IRRI on the status of GE “Golden” rice

[2] 2014 US exports of GE crops and products to the Philippines

[3] The petitioners to the case are: Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines), Magsasaka Siyentipiko sa Pagpapaunlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG), Rep. Teodoro Casino, Dr. Ben Malayang III, Dr. Angelina Galang, Mr. Leonardo Avila III, Ms. Catherine Untalan, Atty. Maria Paz Luna, Mr. Juanito Modina, Mr. Dagohoy Magaway, Dr. Romeo Quijano, Dr. Wency Kiat, Atty. H. Harry Roque Jr., Former Sen. Orlando Mercado, Mr. Noel Cabangon, Mayor Edward Hagedorn, Mr. Edwin Marthine Lopez

Media contact:

Dr. Chito Medina
Executive Director of MASIPAG
Email:  Mobile: 0917-5442196

Virginia Benosa-Llorin, Food and Ecological Agriculture Campaigner
Email: Mobile: +63 917 822 8793

Angelica Carballo Pago, Media Campaigner
Email: Mobile: +63 998 959 5785