Negros sustainable agriculture under attack

Greenpeace calls on Negrenses to safeguard Provincial Ordinance 007

Press release - August 12, 2009
The Philippines is in danger of losing its organic farming capital because a provincial ordinance promoting sustainable agriculture is under attack. Greenpeace issued the warning today as a series of deliberations are launched in Negros Occidental which could repeal a landmark provincial ordinance aimed at transforming Negros Island into the premier organic food bowl of Asia.

"Revival of and rigorous reversal to traditional sustainable agricultural practices are key in adapting to the ongoing and impending impacts of climate change. Negros Occidental has been steadily building an international reputation as a showcase of sustainable farming practices.  It has banned the entry of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the province as part of this noteworthy initiative," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner Daniel M. Ocampo.  "Negros public officials and citizens should question the motivations of parties who want this ordinance repealed: GMOs will reverse the province's efforts to protect safe, organic farming, putting both farmers and consumers at risk."

The province of Negros Occidental is one of the pioneers banning GMOs in the country with Provincial Ordinance 007, or the "Safeguard Against Genetically Modified Organisms," in 2007.  Last April the local government, upon order of Governor Isidro P. Zayco, upheld the ban by rejecting shipments of illegal GMO corn at the capital's port in Bacolod City.

GMO lobby groups reacted by questioning the ordinance.  This prompted the provincial government to reiterate that it is maintaining the ban to prevent GMO contamination of normal crops in the province.  Last month, however, anti-organic farming parties were able to sway the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Negros Occidental to hold hearings to reconsider the ordinance.

People of Negros, however, are starting to speak up in defence of their way of life. "Organic farming is not merely an option for Negros.  It is the only means towards sustainable agricultural development and food security for the rural poor," said Kid Bañas of the Negros Organic Alliance Movement. "There's no place for GMOs in an organic Negros Occidental."

It is, however, up to the SP to uphold the ordinance and ensure the safety of sustainable agriculture in the country's organic food capital. "With the ordinance, Negros Occidental is clearly leading the way towards an agriculture that ensures food security, promotes biodiversity and is not anchored on the use of agrochemicals," Greenpeace's Ocampo added.

Greenpeace has documented projects on millions of farms in more than 50 countries around the world (1) and findings show that switching to sustainable farming methods increases harvests by an average of 73% -- showing that the world's poor can feed themselves by using cheap, locally-available technologies that will not damage the environment.

Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.

Other contacts: Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, +63 917 8976416, +632 414 6512 loc 112, JP Agcaoili, Media Campaigner, +63 917 631 2750, +63 2 414 6512 loc 121,

Notes: (1) The Real Green Revolution, Recipes Against Hunger, www.farmingsolutions.org