RP to lose out on in world food markets with pro-GMO Policy

Greenpeace Sees Global Shift to GMO-Free Products

Press release - April 15, 2001
The Philippines will lose out in the world market if it embraces a pro-genetically modified organisms (GMOs) policy, according to the international environmental group Greenpeace.

The Philippines will lose out in the world market if it embraces a pro-genetically modified organisms (GMOs) policy, according to the international environmental group Greenpeace.

Citing numerous cases worldwide where genetically modified (GM) food products have been rejected by foreign markets, the group warned that should the Philippines push through with pending applications for field trials of GM crops and their subsequent commercial production, the country is bound to lose its share of food exports.

The group cited the case of Thai canned tuna, which was rejected and embargoed by Saudi Arabia last year, fearing the tuna was packed in GM soya oil. Thai tuna has also been turned back by Egypt, Greece and the Netherlands because of similar concerns. The US has also lost its entire soya export market to Norway due to public opposition to GM products. Japan, the world leading corn importer, has also refused to buy US corn because of doubts about possible GM contamination.

More recently, Cerelac, a Nestle baby food product manufactured in the Philippines and sold in Thailand tested positive for GM contamination and is currently causing a lot of apprehension on the part of Thai consumers.

"GMO food contamination is giving the country a bad name. Unless the government starts implementing a strict policy against GMOs to protect our food supply as well as our food exports from genetic contamination, we are bound to face rejection in the global markets in the coming years," said Von Hernandez of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

"As more and more consumers locally and worldwide become aware of the negative effects of GMOs on the environment and on public health, the country will increasingly find itself part of the pariah group of countries who in the end will find it too late and impossible to escape from the curse of GM crops. The government must exercise decisive action now to save our environment, our food, and our markets from the hazards of genetic pollution, " he added.

More than 30 countries already strongly oppose GM products. Some have already issued laws requiring the labeling imported materials. Taken in this light, the group added that GM-free countries stand to benefit more in the world food market. For example, big supermarkets in Europe are now paying premium prices to GM-free food producers.

Greenpeace urged the Arroyo administration to put more resources instead into the development of organic farming and agriculture in the country, stressing that a strict organic policy will also give the country a strong competitive advantage in global food markets. Early in her term of office, the President stated that the Philippines will not be used as a launching pad for GMO experiments.