Farmers, scientists groups urge passage of GMO free agriculture

FARMERS  and scientists groups today called on lawmakers to approve House Bill  (HB) 6454 or “An Act Prohibiting the Use of Products Containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Philippine Agriculture and for other Purposes”.

“HB 6454 also known as the “GMO-Free Agriculture Act of 2012” is authored by Hon. Rafael Mariano, Anakpawis Partylist representative and concurrent national chairperson of KMP, and was submitted on August 8, 2012 at the House of Representatives,” said Wilfredo Marbella, KMP deputy secretary general and RESIST Convenor.

Marbella said, “This is a timely action of the office of Rep. Mariano especially now that the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in partnership with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice) is field testing Golden Rice or Vitamin A Rice in experimental farms in Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Norte and Camarines Sur.”

“Golden Rice is a genetically modified (GM) rice that is supposed to contain beta-carotene to produce Vitamin A. Proponents said it is being developed and tested to address the problem of Vitamin A deficiency. However, we assert that the development and promotion of Golden Rice illustrates an industrial model of agriculture that limits bio-diversity and lessens dietary diversification, which primarily causes malnutrition,” stated Dr. Chito Medina, MASIPAG national coordinator also a RESIST Convenor.

Medina said, “GM food poses risk to consumers, as more and more independent international scientific experiments reveal that GMOs may cause health problems. However, risk assessments done in our country are inadequate. We also question how the country is regulating the entry or approval of GMOs. To date, there are about 67 GMOs approved for direct use as food, feed and processing. While countries in Europe and China has either banned or put a moratorium on GMOs so as to protect their crops from GM contamination , the Philippine government are opening the country to GM crops and thus, endangering its people.”

“We fully support the bill and we will launch campaigns for its passage. We agree with Rep. Mariano that science should serve the people and society, and not of the few who earns big profit at the expense of the people. Science and technological advancement should not cause harm and damage to both people and the environment. Other countries have acted through legislation to protect their citizens and environments from the threat of GM crops and food. Clearly, we must do the same,” Marbella and Medina said.

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