RP court halts approval of GMO rice

Greenpeace hails decision as "major step forward"

Press release - September 19, 2007
In a landmark decision yesterday, a Philippine court has ordered an injunction stopping the approval of a genetically-modified (GMO) rice in the country. Greenpeace, as well as the NGO Searice, hailed the decision as a "major step forward" for the campaign to protect human health and ensure the safety of environment from the adverse effects of GMOs. The injunction is the first major ruling on GMOs in the Philippines since the government allowed the entry of genetically-altered crops in 2002.

Rice is life.

"Greenpeace welcomes the court's ruling and calls upon the Agriculture Department to immediately scrap their current policy on GMOs.  The DA has to prioritize the health and environment of the Filipinos. GMOs are not proven to be safe, and the current policy is patently biased and unacceptable. We hope the injunction will compel the DA to review its agenda independent of pressures and the lure of kickbacks from the multinational GMO corporations. " said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Genetic Engineering Campaigner Daniel Ocampo.

The issuance of the said injunction is the latest development in an on-going court case which questions the constitutionality of DA Administrative Order (AO 8 - 2002), the government system for GMO approvals. Greenpeace has repeatedly asserted that the system is "hopelessly flawed" and violates basic constitutional rights. The environmental group helped file the legal petition against the said

policy last August. The petition also sought a permanent injunction on the approval of Bayer corporation's GMO rice LL62 whose application,

under DA AO8, is currently under review.

Branch 101 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, presided by Judge Evengeline Marigomen, issued the preliminary injunction, stating that "a sampling of the petitioners evidence show that there is a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed rights 1) to information of public concern, 2) protection and promotion of health, and 3) a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature."

"Due to the nature of the petition, both the DA and Bayer Cropscience are respondents to the case, but it is exasperating to see that DA has abdicated its role altogether and left the entire defense of its policies to the Bayer's lawyers. In the hearing prior to the issuance of the injunction last Friday, Bayer presented 17 arguments in defense of AO8. The Department of Agriculture is the government's most important agency, it is responsible for the country's basic food sources, it cannot be run by profiteering corporate interests," said Ocampo.

The preliminary injunction will be in effect while the court case is on-going. The next hearing on the petition is scheduled in the afternoon of November 16, 2007.