Cardinal Rosales joins calls vs GMO rice
GMO BAN ORDINANCE EYED
Farmers' group wants rice import banned
Philippines at serious risk from illegal GMO rice contamination
Provincial offices, NGOs endorse GMO Free Zones
Mindoro town farmers uproot Bt-corn plants
Farmers, environmentalists urge ban on GMOs
Church group sets survey to probe claim on Bt corn
Bt-corn not financially rewarding
SoCot town bans Bt corn, pushes organic farming
The Economics of Bt corn in the Philippines - New report by Greenpeace
Monsanto's Bt corn: burden not boon
Greenpeace hits Bt corn anew after farmer claims 'insignificant earning'
The case of Bt Maize in the Philippines is a salutary tale
GMO-free legislation publicly launched on July 21 2004
Philippine Senate to hold another public hearing on GMOs - 5/7/2003
Hunger strike against GM food ends today - 21/5/2003
HUNGER STRIKE HIGHLIGHTS ISSUES SURROUNDING GMOS
Landmark law bans GMOs in Neg. Occ - BY CARLA GOMEZ - Daily Star (Philippines), April 27 2007
The Negros Occidental Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed Wednesday a landmark legislation that bans the entry of genetically modified plants and animals in the province and imposes penalties for its violation. Provincial Ordinance No. 07, Series of 2007, or "The Safeguard Against Living Genetically-Modified Organisms", was sponsored by Board Member Adolfo Mangao Sr., chairman of the SP Committee on Agriculture. The ordinance helps bring Negros Island a step closer to its goal of becoming the organic food bowl of Asia, Patrick Belisario, executive director of the Negros Island Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Foundation Inc., said yesterday. In Aug. 24, 2005, Negros Occidental Gov. Joseph Marañon and Oriental Negros Gov. George Arnaiz signed a memorandum of agreement committing to 10 percent organic production islandwide by the year 2010 and to the banning of GMOs. The MOA also committed to both provinces creation of the Negros Island Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development Foundation (NISARD) to carry out both governors commitment to the islandwide development of organic agriculture.
The ordinance passed by the Negros Occidental SP Wednesday states that it is aimed at "instituting stringent measures towards the protection of biodiversity and attainment of the status of Negros as an Organic Food Island in Asia by banning the entry, importation and introduction of genetically-modified plants and animals within the territorial jurisdiction of the province of Negros Occidental". The legislation partly fulfills the commitment of the two Negros governors to legislate the ban on GMOs in the entire Negros Island, Belisario said. In due time, the Oriental Negros provincial government is expected to pass a parallel ordinance to complement the efforts achieved in Negros Occidental, he said. The ordinance states that persons violating the ban on GMOs in Negros Occidental will be fined not more than P5,000 or face imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both, at the discretion of the court for each and every defined violation. Where the violator is a corporation organization, the heads of such groups will be held directly liable, the ordinance adds.
All Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) brought into Negros Occidental will be seized and destroyed at the expense of the violator, the ordinance also states. The ordinance defines LMO as any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology. The ordinance also prohibits the planting, growing, selling and trading of living GMOs within the territorial jurisdiction of Negros Occidental. All persons who have already planted LMOs in Negros Occidental at the time of the effectivity of the ordinance have 120 days to terminate growing them provided that when they are harvested they be disposed of outside the jurisdiction of the province, the ordinance adds. All those selling and trading LMOs also have 30 days from the effectivity of the ordinance to dispose of their products outside the jurisdiction of Negros Occidental, it states.
Organic farming, as the most sustainable method of agricultural production, addresses multi-dimensional issues on food security, income diversification, food safety, ecological protection and balance, renewable energy and others, Belisario said. Organic farming regulations around the globe prohibit the use of products derived from genetic modification, Belisario said, adding that some importing countries of organic products are now requiring certification that products are GMO free, aside from the mandatory organic certification. The ban on GMO creates favorable business environment for groups like NGO's, cooperatives, people's organizations and even agribusiness companies to make available in commercial quantities the supply of organic seeds, fertilizers and botanical pest control, feeds for livestock and poultry and fisheries, he said. These inputs are needed to support the commitment to devote approximately 80,000 hectares of the agricultural lands to organic production in the entire Negros Island, Belisario said.
Negros is famous for its lone organic export of muscovado sugar product mostly to Europe, which is coping with the growing demand as ingredient for organic chocolate and other confectionery products, he said. Around the globe, it was estimated in 2005 that the market for organic products have reached the US $30 Billion mark and the area devoted to organic agriculture is approximately over 25 million hectares, he said. In the Philippines, the organic market is enjoying a higher average growth rate between 30-50 percent annually than the global annual growth between 10-30 percent, he said. Clearly, the demand for organic products outstrips the existing production supply and Negros Island has much to offer in terms of organic production, Belisario said.
Asian peasants and scientists: NO to Genetically-engineered Rice; YES to Genuine Land Reform! - By Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano
Manila, Philippines - Peasants and scientists celebrated Asia's most treasured rice culture by issuing a strong statement that they hoped would reverberate among peoples for the challenging years to come: NO to genetic engineering; YES to genuine land reform. In culmination of the Week of Rice Action (WORA) led by Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), more than 300 participants attended a forum on genetic engineering (GE) and rice in Balay Kalinaw, University of the Philippines last April 3. The event also became a local highlight when a prominent Filipino activist and lawmaker, newly released from political detention, visited to extend solidarity to WORA participants.
In her welcoming remarks, Dr. Angelina Briones, board member of Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) or Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development, Inc. said that scientists are one with farmers in celebrating the rice culture of Asia, one "that preserves traditional rice varieties, knowledge and practices." She recounts that as a chemist, she used to conduct scientific researches that were estranged from the real plight of Filipino farmers, until the NGO community made her aware of the destructive effects of the Green Revolution. "In my barrio, the farmers used to have decent living, they had seed granaries and plenty of food for the people. After I finished my studies, I came back and saw little huts and farmers no longer have plenty of food," she said.
Dr. Giovanni Tapang, chairperson of AGHAM or Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, gave participants an overview of the threats of GE rice, the movement against it, and the objectives of the WORA. "This is not only about protesting GE and transnational corporations (TNCs), but also about celebrating the commonalities of the people in Asia," he said.
GE threats and TNC control
Sarojeni Rengam, executive director of PAN AP, made a presentation on "GE and TNC control in agriculture". She explained the consolidation of power of seeds and agro-chemical TNCs, only three of which will control the market in 5 years. These TNCs, led by Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta, reap around $21 billion in profits per year. She warned that because of collusion between U.S. and other governments in the world, GE seeds are gaining market share, even wit the lack of public acceptance. Rengam told of how Monsanto controls most of GE soybeans, maize, cotton, and canola, and how these seeds are linked with particular herbicides that Monsanto also produces. She told of the recent contamination of U.S. rice stocks with Liberty Link 601 GE rice, the way the U.S. Department of Agriculture rushed to help Bayer by deregulating it, and how Bayer refuses to pay compensation for affected farmers. She also said that health and safety questions have not been addressed by Bt rice and Golden Rice. She cited a study by Charles M. Benbrook that shows that GE crops did not lessen but instead increased the use of pesticides, contrary to the claims of TNCs. According to the study of GM crops in U.S. from 1993 to 2004, pesticide use has increased by 4.1%. Rengam also talked about the International Rice Genome Sequencing Project, which is a TNC endeavour to own the rice genome that rightfully belongs to everybody. "To stop the destruction of our rice culture, the spirit of WORA has to continue throughout the years," she said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Michael Hansen of the Consumer Policy Institute in the U.S. talked of the potential problems associated with each step of the GE process, the possible health and environmental issues associated with GE rice, and the economic impact caused by GE contamination. Dr. Hansen cited a household survey of 481 farming families in 5 provinces in China, which showed that farmers of Bt cotton spent 40% more on pesticides for secondary pest outbreaks. "GE is acting like a classic pesticide-a silver bullet that fails in the long term," he said. He presented studies which show that GE crops non-target organisms like pollinators and earthworms. Studies that prove GE's high allergenicity potentials on consumers and adverse health among farmworkers was also shown. He told Filipino farmers that the Philippine government will be a fool to approve Bayer's 2006 application to import LL 62, because no other country has accepted the GE product. He said that there are already 41 major rice-producing countries in the world which has declared a "no-GE rice" policy.
Afterwards, WORA participants from Cambodia, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, U.S., Indonesia, and Thailand gave solidarity messages and an account of highly successful WORA activities in their own countries. "We will go home with hope and confidence that we are doing the right and good thing," said Montawadee Krutmechai of the Foundation of Reclaiming Rural Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Action (RRAFA). Yi Kim Than of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) said that 1,700 farmers joined in their WORA activities. Aside from strengthening the network against GE rice, Cambodian farmers also shared their experiences in seed collection and seed preservation, he said. Haekyung Woo of Consumers Korea said that the WORA campaign in South Korea, mainly of symposia and petition campaigns, were a triumph. Keisuke Amagasa of the NO! GMO Campaign in Japan said that they were able to stop the field tests of GE crops. He acknowledged that the Japanese government is one of the leading supporters of the International Rice Research Institute and had to be stopped. Muhammad Asim Lasin of the Lok Sanjh Foundation in Pakistan denounced their government's approval of Bt cotton and said that their farmers do not have the capacity to implement "biosafety measures" put into place. "I congratulate all the farmers who participated in the WORA, especially Filipino farmers-you have made the leap and for that I salute you!" he also said. Frederick Fajardo of Gita Pertiwi in Indonesia told of the promising sustainable agriculture efforts in their country and said that the WORA activities raised public awareness on GE rice.
Afterwards, Dr. Gene Nisperos, chairperson of the Health Alliance for Democracy, presented on basic issues and concerns on health and GE rice. He said that while GE rice has mainly been promoted as a solution to hunger, illness, and malnutrition, it will achieve the opposite. Dr. Nisperos stressed the unmonitored consequences of GE rice such as diseases, and cited several studies to prove his point. He scored the lax government regulation on GE rice. "We are eating it without computing how much of those fortifications stay in our body and how it will exit," he said of the so-called Vitamin A rice. He also said that GE rice for oral rehydration is an "unnecessary distraction" from existing solutions such as providing access to safe water and improved sanitation.
Finally, Danilo Ramos, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) or Peasant Movement of the Philippines, said that imperialist globalization, through the World Trade Organization, is the driving force behind the promotion of pesticides and GE. Yet he said that the campaign against GE and TNCs is getting stronger in the grassroots level, with the farmers protecting their community through various means, such as direct uprooting of Bt crops, mass protests, lobbying and policy advocacy, and adopting sustainable agriculture. According to Ramos, the primary solution to ending hunger and exploitation of rice farmers in Asia is genuine land reform, especially in a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country like the Philippines where the vast majority of land is controlled by local landlords and foreign agri-businesses. "The struggle for land reform can only be won by strengthening the mass movement in Asia," he said.
Peasant leader and congressman Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) party-list delivered the closing remarks, saying that the "resounding voice of resistance" heard throughout the WORA gave much hope to millions of rice farmers and other rural peoples. Afterwards, a solidarity dinner of various Philippine rice cakes and vegetables were served. An invigorating cultural performance was also held, wherein participants sang, danced, and recited poetry to celebrate rice culture and the people?s struggle.
From Jail to WORA
In an unexpected but much welcome visit, newly released congressman Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna (People First) party-list took time out to express support of the WORA campaign. Ocampo, only that morning, was granted bail by the Supreme Court after finding a murder suit filed against him by the Arroyo government highly dubious and ill-motivated. Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, and other progressive party-lists have consistently upheld the struggle against feudal and imperialist domination of Third World agriculture. With a membership deeply rooted in the Philippine mass movement, they have been victims of intense political repression, even extra-judicial killings. "We are one with your campaign to liberate farmers from all forms of exploitation. Long live international solidarity!" said Ocampo. With everyone in high spirits, a toast of local rice wine served in bamboo cups formally ended the event.
The Week of Rice Action (WORA) 2007 brings together farmers, rural communities, and other sectors of society to celebrate and protect rice culture. To be officially launched on March 13 in Bangladesh, the main WORA events will take place in 13 countries across Asia from March 29 to April 4. Culminating in India and the Philippines, WORA will be an unprecedented mobilization of Asians "Celebrating and Protecting Rice Culture"! A key feature of WORA will be its one-million signature campaign calling on policy-makers to take immediate steps to save the rice of Asia. WORA is organised by Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) and its partner organisations in thirteen countries in the region. Anyone interested in being a part of WORA 2007 can log on to the WORA page at www.panap.net
Contact at PAN AP: Ms Anne Haslam, PAN AP at email@example.com
PESTICIDE ACTION NETWORK ASIA AND THE PACIFIC (PAN AP), P.O. Box 1170, 10850 Penang, Malaysia. Tel: 604-6570271 or 604-6560381 Fax: 604-6583960
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Home Page: www.panap.net
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) is a global network working to eliminate the human and environmental harm caused by pesticides and to promote biodiversity based ecological agriculture. PAN Asia and the Pacific is committed to the empowerment of people especially women, agricultural workers, peasant and indigenous farmers. We are dedicated to protect the safety and health of people, and the environment from pesticide use and genetic engineering. We believe in a people-centered, pro-women development through food sovereignty, ecological agriculture and sustainable lifestyles.
Yap acts on GMOs - by Dan Mariano - The Manila Times, March 28 2007
The March 21 edition of this column tackled the genetically modified corn marketed by the multinational Monsanto, MON 863 YieldGard Rootworm. MON 863 is corn genetically manipulated to produce its own insecticide called "modified Cry3Bb1" that kill rootworm insects in the soil. It was approved for local distribution by the Bureau of Plant Industry in October 2003. Independent scientific studies in France, however, found signs of "hepatorenal toxicity" in Monsanto's GM corn. According to Greenpeace, the MON 863 case is the first time that a GMO product authorized for use as food for humans and animals was shown to have adverse effects on internal organs. "It is a clear warning of the inherent risks of GMOs," the environmental group added.
In a chance meeting last Friday, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap told this writer that he has ordered BPI [the Bureau of Plant Industry ] to withdraw its approval for MON 863. "There are other, less controversial seeds in the market," he added. Yap has never given this corner reason to doubt his word - and his decision on MON 863 will probably be welcomed by Greenpeace and others.
Philippines: "Stand up for your rice!" - March 19 2007 - http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?story=20070319011218242
Hundreds of text messages stating "I love my rice GMO-free" kept Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Arthur Yap's phone busy from 12 noon to 1 PM of March 15. His new textmates: Filipino consumers demanding GMO-free rice and rice production. The text barrage was the World Consumers' Day activity that is part of Greenpeace's campaign against GMO rice. The text brigade also marked the launch of Greenpeace's "I love my rice GMO-free" web campaign today. The campaign includes a cyber petition addressed to the DA, kits for spreading the campaign to friends and acquaintances, and a rice blog open to the public for posting. The web campaign may be accessed through www.greenpeace.org.ph.
"If we care about what we eat we have to do everything to protect our food," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Genetic Engineering Campaigner Daniel Ocampo. "Rice, our most important staple food, is under threat. Instead of entertaining the application of the GMO rice Bayer LL62, which is rejected in other parts of the world, the DA should ensure that our rice supply is safe both to the environment and human health."
The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), an attached agency of the DA, is currently reviewing an application for the approval of a GMO rice strain, Bayer LL62, for food, feed and processing in the country. Bayer LL62 is rice genetically-manipulated to resist the powerful weed-killer glufosinate which is meant to be used in conjunction with the said GMO crop. Greenpeace has been actively blocking the approval of Bayer LL62, asserting that the entry of GMO rice in the country's food chain will have disastrous consequences on the country's most important food crop. If Bayer LL62 is approved, the Philippines may become the dumping ground of GMO rice rejected by the rest of the world. LL62 has been granted approval in only one country, the US. But the GMO rice, and a related strain, Bayer LL601, is facing global consumer rejection.
Bayer LL601 and LL62 figured in a global rice scandal when it contaminated US long grain rice stocks last year. US long grain rice became either regulated or rejected in major markets including the EU, Japan, Russia, and the Philippines. The latest to close its doors to US long grain rice imports is Mexico, The US' largest rice export market, which now requires GMO-free certification before any entry of US rice. A report by the USA Rice Federation earlier this week confirmed that 47% the US rice market has been affected by the GMO rice scandal. The California Rice Commission has also asked for moratorium on the planting of GMO rice in the state. And in an even bigger move last Friday, the US Department of Agriculture has banned the sale of conventional (non-GMO) rice seeds which US officials have discovered to contain traces of the GMO Bayer LL601, which is not approved for cultivation even in the US.
"The rest of the world is rejecting GMO rice. But here's the BPI and the DA entertaining Bayer's GMO rice LL62 application in the Philippines. They must be crazy. This is rice we're talking about--it's our most precious food," said Ocampo. "We all have the right to demand that the DA abandon all plans to introduce GMO rice into our country. It's time for us to stand up for our rice."
Greenpeace campaigns for GMO-free crop and food production that is grounded in the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity and providing all people access to safe and nutritious food. Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity and poses unacceptable risks to health.
BIG DEAL - GMOs unfit for consumption - By Dan Mariano - The Manila Times (Philippines), March 21 2007
The work of press agents consists of not just getting the media to carry news favorable to their clients, but also to suppress information inimical to their business. Jargon in the traditional newsroom has an aptly descriptive phrase for it: "Kill story!" One story that has suffered down play-as of this writing-comes from a scientific study, which found that genetically modified (GM) corn approved by Philippine authorities shows signs of toxicity to mammals. The giant agribusiness multinational Monsanto markets the GM corn in several countries, including ours, for animal feeds, food processing and human consumption. That the issue has a direct bearing on public health should be apparent. Yet many major news organizations failed to give it the prominence it obviously deserves-if they ran the story at all. The study, written by a panel of three scientists in France, showed that laboratory rats fed with GMO corn Monsanto (MON) 863 YieldGard Rootworm displayed kidney and liver toxicity.
MON 863 is corn genetically manipulated to produce its own insecticide called "modified Cry3Bb1" to kill rootworm insects in the soil. It contains gene coding for antibiotic resistance. Entitled "New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity," the study was published in the scientific journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (www.springerlink.com/content/1432-0703). The study analyzed results of safety tests submitted by Monsanto to the European Commission (EC) when the company was seeking authorization to market MON 863 in the European Union. Although data showed significant health risks associated with the GMO corn, the EC still granted licenses to market MON 863 for consumption by both humans and animals. The incriminating data were obtained by Greenpeace following a court case, and was passed on for evaluation by a team of experts headed by Professor Gilles Eric Séralini, a governmental expert in genetic engineering from the University of Caen in France. "This case is especially significant to the Philippines right now in the light of the Bureau of Plant Industry's claims [last] week that they enforce stringent regulatory systems for the approval of GMOs," said Daniel Ocampo, Greenpeace Southeast Asia genetic engineering campaigner.
MON 863 was approved in several countries around the world and in the Philippines by the BPI in October 2003. "However, the approval of a GMO is not a guarantee of its safety," Ocampo said. According to Greenpeace, the genetic manipulation of organisms is dangerously unpredictable. No GMO has ever undergone long-term testing. "The MON 863 case is the first time that a GMO product authorized for use as food for humans and animals has been shown to have adverse effects on internal organs," Ocampo said. "It is a clear warning of the inherent risks of GMOs."
MON 863 was approved by the EC, despite opposition from a majority of EU member states, which raised concerns over the GMO's safety. Séralini's study validates these concerns. As the study points out, "with the present data it cannot be concluded that GMO corn MON 863 is a safe product." At a press conference with Greenpeace in Berlin last week, Séralini also questioned Monsanto's analyses of MON 863, which was used as a basis for its approval. "Monsanto's analyses do not stand up to rigorous scrutiny," the French professor said. "To begin with, their statistical protocols are highly questionable." Greenpeace demanded the complete and immediate withdrawal of MON 863 corn from the global market and is calling on governments to reassess all other authorized GE products and review current testing methods. The environmental group also sought a moratorium on the approval of GMOs for human consumption.
In the Philippines, 25 GMO food crops-including corn, soybean, sugar beet, alfalfa, potato and cotton-have been approved by the BPI for direct use in food, feed and processing. The BPI has also permitted four GMO corn crops for propagation. If this is the first time you got wind of this news, then the GMO propagators' PR gremlins have obviously been hard at work.
Group opposes genetically modified rice by German company - Malu Cadelina Manar - MindaNews, 22 February 2007
KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/21 Feb) ? The Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE), a non-government organization, has urged the Bureau of Plant and Industry to turn down the application of a German company for its genetically modified rice varieties to be used for feed, food, and processing. The LLRice 62 (LL stands for Liberty Link) is a genetically modified rice variety developed by Bayer Crop Science, a German company based in the United States. It has two other rice varieties ? the LLRice 06 and LLRice 601, which are said to be both resistant to glufosinate-containing herbicides.
Agnes Lintao, policy maker of SEARICE, said in a press statement that the approval of the application of Bayer will allow the first genetically modified rice into the country and would thus set a precedent of the entry of other genetically modified rice in the Philippines. "Allowing Bayer's LLRice 62 into the country will completely alter the culture and traditions of the Filipino farmers, especially since we are talking about an important food crop that is synonymous to our country?s sovereignty," Lintao said.
According to SEARICE, Bayer's LLRice 601 has figured in so many controversies in the US and Europe, especially since it has not been approved for human consumption. The SEARICE has noted that the more recent studies disclosed that the imported rice, the Uncle Sam Texas Long Grain Rice, which is being sold in leading supermarkets in the country, is found to be contaminated with LLRice 601. "This poses potential health risks to the general public, thus, the need to take extra precaution on the approval of LLRice 62," said Lintao. She urged consumers to better patronize locally and organically-produced rice.
The BPI of the Department of Agriculture is the regulating body in the country, which approves genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) for direct use, propagation, and commercialization. Lintao stressed that the BPI should look beyond the promises that through genetic engineering, the world would be saved from hunger. The BPI, she said, is mandated in evaluating the safety of genetic engineering crops being applied for approval. "But it should still consider and maintain a higher principle in the approval process. A single approval would signify a devastating impact to the country's food supply in the long term," said Lintao.
"We have already eaten genetically modified rice because of gov't neglect!" - KMP - News Release, March 3, 2007
Ka Willy Marbella, internal deputy secretary general, KMP and ANAKPAWIS nominee. Dr. Gene Nisperos, secretary general, HEAD and RESIST convenor
The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the RESIST alliance lambasted the Macapagal-Arroyo regime for its neglect and utter disregard for the safety of Filipino citizens that it has allowed the entry of genetically-modified (GM) food, especially rice into the country. These genetically-modified products are not certified to be fit for humans and in fact some of it has been tested to be dangerous to one's health.
According to Ka Willy Marbella, internal deputy secretary general of KMP, and ANAKPAWIS nominee, "more likely than not we have already eaten imported rice that are genetically modified, an example of which is the Uncle Sam Long Grain rice that came from the US. It was a LL601 type of rice which is not fit for consumption and was mixed with other rice. It was able to enter the country through Public Law 480 of the US and through the World Trade Organization (WTO),"
"Aside from this, because of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), GMO rice is being planted here in the Philippines for field testing. GMO rice that is banned in other countries is brought here for further study and experimentation like that of the Bacterial Blight rice or BB rice, that have inevitably now been mixed with the safe varieties in the rice fields of Laguna," added the peasant leader.
As for his part Dr. Gene Nisperos, secretary general of the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) and RESIST convenor said, "This is being done by IRRI and the Macapagal-Arroyo regime for enormous profits but they are endangering our lives. For example, the IRRI and PhilRice received around $1.2 million in 2003-2005 from different foundations pushing for gene modification research. But whatever profit they earn is not worth the risk they are taking for our very lives,"
"We may not feel the effects of GM products now but as we grow older its effects would manifest themselves, a common disease it causes is that of cancer as well as birth defects on our off springs. We must do all we can to expose this and stop it from continuing, because it is not just us and the next generations that will be affected but the environment as well," ended Nisperos.
Yap says suspected GMO-tainted rice pulled out in markets - Sunday, February 25 2007 - http://www.bayanihan.org/html/article.php/20070225162808821
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Arthur Yap on Sunday said the suspected rice allegedly tainted with genetically modified organism (GMO) as earlier claimed by the Archbishop of Manila were already pulled out in all markets. In an interview, Yap said the buyer of 69,000 tons rice under PL-480 of the United States has voluntarily pulled out from the market. Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales earlier wrote to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo asking for a moratorium on US rice imports which, according to his supporters, were tainted with GMO.
The 9LLRice601 was reportedly imported by a giant food conglomerate and sells under the brand name "Uncle Sam Texas Long-grain," according to a petition sent to the Cardinal carrying 2,000 signatures. Invoking the church's "moral obligation to protest the interest of God's people and their inherent right to safe food and healthy environment," the Cardinal pointed out that even the European Union has barred the LLRice 601 from its region.
Yap said the buyer did not wait for the result of the testing conducted by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to determine if indeed the rice imported from the US are tainted. He said the buyer cited "social responsibility" as the reason for the early pull-out of rice imports from the markets. Besides, Yap said they are still awaiting the result from the BPI so it would not be proper to say that the rice imported from the US are tainted and might be hazardous to human health.
On the other hand, Cardinal Rosales, in his letter to the President, also called for a stop in the propagation of genetically modified (GM) products in Philippine farms and markets. He also urged the President "to certify as urgent" the bill that would require mandatory labeling of all imported and locally-manufactured processed food and other agricultural products in the country.
Yap stressed the government through the DA is implementing the 3-1000 test for grains which determines if it (grains) was genetically modified. "We are following strictly the procedure of 3-1000 testing for grains. We ensure there is no GMO rice in the market," he said. (PNA)
Philippines reviews GMO rice bid from Bayer - Thursday, February 15, 2007.
MANILA - The Philippines said on Thursday it was reviewing an application by a division of Bayer AG for the domestic sale of genetically modified (GMO) rice for food and animal feed. The Bureau of Plant Industry is checking the safety of the GMO rice of Bayer CropScience known as LLRICE 62, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap told reporters. "We are still reviewing the application," he said. A government scientist said the application by Bayer would allow the Philippines to import GMO rice for food, feed and processing but not for planting.
The GMO rice has a protein known as Liberty Link, which allows the crop to withstand applications of a herbicide used to kill weeds. The Philippines was the first country in Asia to commercialise GMO corn in 2002. The country has since allowed about 20 varieties of GMO corn to be imported, of which two could be planted by local farmers, a scientist at the Bureau of Plant Industry told Reuters. The same scientist said that the GMO rice application from Bayer has been pending since August 2006.
Environmentalist, consumer groups and even some church leaders have warned the government against allowing the entry of GMO rice due to fears of its effect on health and the environment. "Rice is a staple food and source of livelihood of more than 50 million farmers in our country, with roots in our own culture and traditions and thus should be taken with utmost care," Agnes Lintao, policy officer at NGO group SEARICE said in a statement. "The approval will allow the first genetically modified rice into the country, and would thus set a precedent," SEARICE said.
Last week, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales asked the government to look into the sale of GMO rice in local stores and stop the import of rice from the United States.
"We believe that we should strongly oppose any experiment or attempt to use genetically engineered food that are not safe or good to the environment," Rosales said in a letter to Arroyo, a copy of which was released by his office. "We should feed our people with food that are produced through natural means."
© Reuters Foundation
Cardinal Rosales joins calls vs GMO rice - GMA News.TV, 14 February 2007 - http://www.gmanews.tv/story/30632/Cardinal-Rosales-joins-calls-vs-GMO-rice
Manila: Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales has added his voice to the growing criticism of the government for allowing the sale of a genetically engineered US rice product in major supermarkets. In a letter dated February 9 that was released Wednesday, Rosales asked President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to recall from the market Uncle Sam Texas Long Grain Rice, which is being distributed by Purefeeds Inc. "We believe that we should strongly oppose any experiment or attempt to use genetically engineered food that is not safe or good to the environment," Rosales said. "We should feed our people with food that are produced through natural means."
The cardinal also endorsed the petition initiated by the Ecology Desk of the Archdiocese of Manila and signed by 2,000 people raising several issues on the entry and sale of genetically engineered products in the Philippines. In that petition, the Manila archdiocese asked the government to impose a moratorium on the importation of GM rice from the US, require the agriculture department to do mandatory testing of imported rice and urgently stop the propagation of genetically enhanced food products. It said the government should certify as an urgent bill the mandatory labeling of all imported, processed food products. "As a Church institution we have a moral obligation to protect the interest of God's people and their inherent right to safe food and healthy environment. "Independent and environmentally concerned local and international scientists already warned that genetically modified crops and food products could be very harmful to the environment and to human beings," said the cardinal who was recently named as one of Pope Benedict XVI's economic advisers. "We therefore strongly endorse the petition and in addition request you to order the recall and stop the sale of all US rice contaminated with LL601 GE rice together with Uncle Sam Texas Long Grain Rice from all markets and grocery stores," added Rosales.
GMO BAN ORDINANCE EYED - The Visayan Daily Star (Philippines), 13 November 2006
Oriental Negros Vice Gov. Jose Baldado said he will work for the passage of an ordinance banning genetically-modified organisms in the province. Baldado spoke at the launching of the Negros Island Civil Society-NGO-PO Organic Agriculture Agenda, held at the Royal Suites Inn, in Dumaguete City, a press release from Kaisampalad Inc. said yesterday. Speaking on behalf of Gov. George Arnaiz, Baldado said that since a memorandum of agreement has already been signed by the governor declaring Negros as the Organic Food Bowl of the country, and committing to the ban on GMOs, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan should come up with an ordinance supporting it, the press release said.
Renato Bañas of the La Salle University-Bacolod, and Visayas nominee to the National Organic Agriculture Board, said he is impressed by the consistent and strong support provided by the Oriental Negros to the MOA signed between Arnaiz and Negros Occidental Gov. Joseph Marañon. Nenita Seno of the DA Regional Field Unit 7, said the department is committed to support initiatives under their High Value Crops Program, and is willing to explore opportunities for partnership, technical and other support, for the organizations involved, the press release said. Lucito Rastica, president of the province-wide association of municipal agriculturists said they will pass a resolution committing to implement organic agriculture. Also supporting the agenda were funding agencies like the Foundation for Philippine Environment, Philippine Development Assistance Program, and the Peace and Equity Foundation, the press release said.
The launching of the Negros Island CSO-NGO-PO Organic Agenda was a joint undertaking of two key provincial networks, the Negros Organic Agriculture Movement in Negros Occidental and the Organic Negros Alliance of Negros Oriental. The two networks, composed of over 50 organizations, have come up with an agenda for the CSO-NGO-PO community, to parallel the efforts made by the two governors in creating the Negros Island Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Foundation, the press release also said. The agenda itself is composed of 164 action items, which the two networks are hoping to be adopted by the provincial administrations of Arnaiz and Marañon, the press release added.
Farmers' group wants rice import banned - The SunStar - Victor L. Camion - October 12 2006
A FARMERS' group in Negros Oriental urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to ban rice imports from the US to protect the local rice farmers and safeguard Filipino consumers from the alleged contaminated and genetically engineered rice variety. The variety of the imported rice is called LibertyLinkRice601 (LLRice601), said Eugene Quirante, regional liaison officer of Centro Saka Inc. Centro Saka Inc. is a research and policy advocacy and a non-government organization accredited by the National Research Institute of the Department of Agriculture.
Quirante said farmers want the ban imposed after the United States Department of Agriculture found that commercial long grain rice in the US has been contaminated by the unapproved genetically engineered (GE) LLRice601 rice variety. He said traces of the illegal genetically modified rice have been found in supermarkets in European countries and the United Kingdom. "As a result, Japan banned all long-grain rice from the US, while the European Union now tests US rice shipments and rejects any rice imports contaminated with LLRice601," said Quirante. LLRice 601, he said, is a long grain of rice that containing the protein Liberty Link that allows the crop to withstand herbicide applications.
"Imported rice, especially genetically modified (GM) rice from the United States, should be banned from entering our country to prevent contamination of our crops," warned Quirante adding, "If the European countries and the United Kingdom were not spared from the contamination, then we are also at risk from possible contamination since the United States has been dumping their rice into our country through the PL 480 grant!" He said Centro Saka demands that government impose stricter measures in testing and monitoring shipments of all imported rice from the US and other countries to ensure that local rice varieties and species would be spared from possible contamination. "The Department of Agriculture should protect our local rice farmers from the risks of GE rice," he said adding, "We should not allow this to happen to our already beleaguered local rice industry." Quirante stressed that the contamination of GE rice has been causing massive problems for the US rice industry.
Philippines at serious risk from illegal GMO rice contamination - Tuesday, September 12 2006
The Philippines is at serious risk from illegal GE (genetically-engineered) rice contamination as the international scandal around genetically-manipulated rice varieties which have not been commercially approved for human consumption grows bigger, Greenpeace warned today in a press briefing in Quezon City. Recent Greenpeace tests reveal that illegal GE rice from the US has contaminated products on supermarket shelves in Germany. The results came a week after an earlier round of tests proved that illegal GE rice from China, which poses a potential health risk, was found present in rice products on European shelves(1). Greenpeace International has notified authorities that illegal GE rice poses health and environmental risks and called upon governments to take immediate action to protect consumers.
"The illegal GE rice scandal, however, may not be limited to Europe. In Southeast Asia rice is the staple diet. The Philippines is among the countries most at risk because we import rice and rice products from both the US and China," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia GE campaigner Daniel Ocampo. "Greenpeace is therefore calling on the government to protect Filipino consumers by implementing strong measures to nip in the bud what may turn out to be a similar case of serious contamination in our country. These measures should include testing of rice and rice products, the immediate recall of those found positive for contamination, and demanding GE free certification for food from countries that grow and produce GE crops," Ocampo added.
Many US and Chinese rice products which are available in Philippine markets and supermarket shelves may be affected by contamination. These products can range from rice noodles to breakfast cereals to baby food. The country also imports sacks of rice from US and China, and receives several tons of US surplus rice regularly under a food aid program, PL-480. The recent rice contamination in China began with field trials of GE rice not currently approved for commercial growing because of mounting concerns over its safety. The illegal GE rice, genetically engineered to be resistant to insects, contains a protein or fused protein (Cry1Ac) that has reportedly induced allergic-like reactions in mice. Three independent scientists with expertise in the field of GE and health have issued a statement backing the health concerns raised by Greenpeace International(2). Yet an investigation by Greenpeace in 2005 showed that research institutes and seed companies in China had been illegally selling unapproved GE rice seeds to farmers(3). Processed rice products found in supermarkets in France, UK and Germany were revealed last week to have been contaminated with China's illegal GE rice.
New test results by an independent laboratory released in a statement yesterday by Greenpeace Germany have also confirmed the presence of Bayer's Liberty Link rice in US parboiled long grain rice sold in a major German supermarket chain which has 700 outlets throughout France. Bayer's LL GE rice is not approved for food or cultivation anywhere in the world except within the United States and Canada. In addition, an experimental variety of LL GE rice, LL601, was found recently to be contaminating US rice.
"These findings are shocking and should trigger high-level responses. Consumers should not be left swallowing experimental GE rice that is risky to their health and the environment," said Dr. Janet Cotter from Greenpeace International's Science Unit. "Once illegal GE crops are in the food chain, removing them takes enormous effort and cost. It is easier to prevent contamination in the first place and stop any plans to commercialize GE rice." Ocampo concluded: "The Philippines, which is signatory to the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety should moreover use the precautionary principle by not importing GMO rice and rice products. The country should also stop planting GMO rice, even in experimental plots, so that contamination is halted at all levels."
Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production that is grounded in the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity and providing all people to have access to safe and nutritious food Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity and poses unacceptable risks to health.
(1) All tests were conducted by an accredited and independent laboratory. Details available in background briefing 'Illegal experimental GE Rice from China: Now entering Europe's Food chain'. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/IllegalChinaGErice
(2) Scientists statement from Pr. Ian F.Pryme, Dept. of Biomedicine, University of Bergen, Norway. Pr. Gilles-Eric Seralini, Président du Conseil Scientifique, du CRII GEN, Universite de Caen, France. Dr. Christian Velot, Conseil Scientifique du CRII GEN, Institut de Genetique et, Microbiologie, Universite Paris-Sud, France.available at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/ScientistStatementHealthConcernsGErice
(3) Further testing indicated that the whole food chain had been contaminated, with the most recent case being the contaminated Heinz rice cereal products in Beijing, Guangzhou and Hongkong. The Chinese government, in the wake of the situation, reportedly punished seed companies and destroyed illegally grown GE rice.
Provincial offices, NGOs endorse GMO Free Zones - By Nonoy Espina - INQ7.net (Philippines), 14 July 2006
PARTICIPANTS of a national agriculture conference endorsed on Friday the establishment of GMO (genetically-modified organism) Free Zones and a bias for sustainable agriculture as the only way to achieving real food security for the country. International environmental group Greenpeace Southeast Asia, which organized the July 13 to 14 National Conference on Sustainable Agriculture and GMO Free Zones at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City said representatives of several provincial agriculture offices were among the conference participants -- mostly non-government and people's organizations -- that batted for sustainable agriculture. Among the provinces represented at the conference were Abra, Isabela, Camarines Norte, Mindoro, Palawan, Marinduque, Misamis Occidental, Agusan Del Norte, Cebu, Bukidnon, Lanao Del Norte, Bohol, and Negros Occidental.
"Greenpeace urges local governments in other parts of the country to make their provinces GE free," Greenpeace Southeast Asia genetic engineering campaigner Daniel Ocampo said. "GMO-free agriculture is the only way toward true sustainable agriculture." Conference participants also declared that "the government should re-examine the current regulations on GMO crops which favor multinational biotech companies at the expense of local sustainable and organic farming initiatives," Greenpeace said in a statement. Ocampo said the national government "should prioritize local efforts toward GMO-free sustainable agriculture and work for the interest of local farmers instead of willfully killing sustainable agriculture with its obvious bias toward GMO crops developed, patented, and marketed commercially by multinational bio-tech companies."
Greenpeace said the government approved the commercialization of genetically-engineered crops in 2002 with the introduction of Bt corn, "amid pressure from US GMO lobby groups and large biotech companies like Monsanto." "To this day, the government's agricultural policies reflect an alarming predilection toward biotech commercialization," the group said. "Just last week, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo proclaimed the first week of July as National Biotechnology Week, following the launch of a major government program to promote biotech, including transgenics, in agriculture." Greenpeace said this could "only spell disaster for Philippine agriculture," citing the experiences with GE papaya in Hawaii and GE cotton in India, as well as Bt corn in the country, that "indicates that GE crops are more of a burden rather than a boon."
However, Greenpeace also noted that "several local provincial efforts, however, recognize the dangers of GMO crops." "The province of Bohol passed a resolution banning the entry of GMOs in 2003, becoming the first GMO Free Island in the Philippines," it said. "The provinces of Mindoro Oriental and Marinduque [as part of the 'Organic Haven Islands of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan' or MIMAROPA] both have a Provincial Environmental Code and Administrative Order also banning the entry of GMOs in their areas," it said. Last year, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental signed a memorandum of agreement in pursuit of their shared vision to become the "Organic Island of the Philippines" and were expected to pass a similar ban on GMOs. Similar efforts are underway in several provinces in Mindanao, Greenpeace added.
Mindoro town farmers uproot Bt-corn plants - By Madonna T. Virola - Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sept 17, 2005
NAUJAN, ORIENTAL MINDORO - Backed by the municipal government and Greenpeace International, 15 farmers here decontaminated a farm planted to genetically-engineered Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) corn in Barangay Sta. Maria on Thursday. Wearing protective clothing, the farmers uprooted the Bt-corn plants, placed them in plastic bags and sealed them in drums. The farmers had been demanding a genetically modified organisms-free (GMO-free) Mindoro. They said farm owner Lina Manibo continued to plant the Bt-corn despite a provincial ban on GMOs. Manibo, a Department of Land Reform employee, however, allowed her farm to be decontaminated after she was informed of the environmental and health costs of Bt-corn. "I am supporting the government in its program," she said.
The provincial government passed in June last year an environmental code, authored by lawyer Ligorio Turano, that bans GMOs. "Provincial agriculturist Rodolfo Valdez allowed his cousin to plant Bt-corn here, arguing that 'it's the farmer's choice' because this is a free enterprise," said Ely Vargas, municipal agriculturist. "It's not actually a free choice in the end because (American company) Monsanto controls the seeds." In an earlier interview with provincial environment and natural resources officer Mike Jumig and Lorybelle Tanyag, provincial legal officer, they said a case is under way against Monsanto for violating the code.
Instead of just a rally, Greenpeace, an international non-government organization, showed the farmers that decontamination was doable and urgent. "What we did is a first in the country," said Daniel Ocampo, Greenpeace genetic engineering campaigner. Ocampo said the Philippines should declare a moratorium on the release of GMOs. He added that the government should also ensure that GMO-free areas should not be penetrated by GMOs. The municipality of Naujan asked help from Greenpeace, knowing its expertise on the issue.
"Even before the environment code, our vision was sustainable agriculture where the farmers are the focal point of development and not mere beneficiaries of the so-called 'modern technology,' which is beyond their capabilities to manage. We need to go back to basic organic farming where the farmers are not dependent on the government for assistance," said Naujan Mayor Norberto Mendoza. "I've asked Governor (Arnan) Panaligan to issue a memo to all mayors to enforce the ban on GMO and I'll back it up," said Mendoza, also the president of the league of mayors. Panaligan said he would issue a memo in the first week of October. A lawyer, the governor clarified that the free enterprise principle invoked by Valdez does not apply because there is a code that bans GMOs. "We'll conduct information campaign among farmers," he said. Vargas said that in the Green Revolution of Masagana 99, the farmers were just made to consume 12 bags of fertilizers (from six) but Bt-corn requires 15 bags.
Farmers, environmentalists urge ban on GMOs - By Allen V. Estabillo - MindaNews (Philippines), 25 August 2005
GENERAL SANTOS CITY - Local farmers and environmental groups renewed their calls to immediately ban entry and planting of genetically-engineered (GE) crops in the country in the wake of the recent government approval to commercialize a new transgenic corn variety. Eliezer Billanes, secretary general of the Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Timug Kutabato, warned that the looming entry into the market of Monstanto's "stacked-trait corn" would further expose the area's farms and residents to various toxins reportedly embedded in the GE corn variety. "It's high time for Congress to intervene on this matter by passing a law that would ban these products," he told MindaNews in a phone interview. Billanes said that House Bill 2124, or the proposed GMO (Genetically-Modified Organism)-free Food and Agriculture Act of 2004, was gathering dust at a committee in the House of Representatives. Billanes said they have been gathering signatures to support the passage of HB 2124 "which will ultimately make our country as GMO-free." The proposed measure, filed by Anakpawis partylist Rep. Rafael Mariano, prohibits the entry, sale, field testing, and release of crops and food containing GMOs.
The bill cited that "there have been many cases discovered which should tell us that genetically modified products could seriously harm human beings and the environment." "The threat from genetically-engineered crops and food products is rising in the Philippines. A number of food products sold in our supermarkets and groceries have been found to contain GMOs," the bill said. The Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Plant Industry approved earlier this month the commercial distribution and planting of the "dekalb-stacked hybrid" corn, a GE product which could resist both herbicides and the Asiatic corn borer.
According to a report from the University of the Philippines Los Banos-based Biotechnology Information Center (BIC), the new hybrid corn seed is practically a combination of the controversial Bacillus thuringiesis (Bt) corn and the Roundup-Ready corn, which underwent several field tests here and the neighboring areas. Bt corn was approved for planting in the country in late 2002 while Roundup Ready corn was introduced in the markets earlier this year. Environmental group Greenpeace the government's approval of the new GE corn variety saying "the government has failed to protect Filipinos from the onslaught of genetically modified organisms and agro-chemical companies which promote it.
"The Arroyo government is intent on punishing Filipino farmers and our environment at the behest of multinational agro-chemical companies which only care for profits," said Greenpeace's GE campaigner Danny Ocampo said in a statement e-mailed to MindaNews. Ocampo said the new GE corn would threaten the food chain with contamination and lead to further degradation of soil quality. He said it also meant "twice the profits" for Monsanto, which owns the patent to "stacked-trait corn" and the glyphosate Roundup Ready herbicide. In June, Greenpeace launched the report "The Economics of Bt Corn: Whose Interest Does It Really Serve?" which showed evidence that Bt corn, contrary to claims by Monsanto, was a financial burden to Filipino farmers because they have to pay more for seeds and fertilizers. "GMOs are costly experiments on our people and our environment and bury our farmers in debts while providing more profits to companies like Monsanto," Ocampo added.
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE - By Marit Stinus-Remonde - Farmers not ready for 'Bt' corn - Manila Times, July 12, 2005
In June Greenpeace Southeast Asia released a report on the promotion and growing of Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) corn in the Philippines. Bt corn is a genetically modified seed developed by the global corporation Monsanto. The seed is engineered to be resistant to the Asiatic Corn Borer. The Department of Agriculture has been promoting Bt corn - and genetically modified seeds and foods in general - for several years. Improved yield and reduced use of chemical pesticides are the arguments used to convince the farmers in particular, the public in general, to accept and embrace modern biotechnology in agriculture.
If GMOs are already in our midst - either planted on fields or as ingredients in the food we eat - it is not because we have been convinced of the superiority of modern biotechnology but that most of us have other more urgent concerns and priorities. The aggressiveness of the government and companies such as Monsanto in pushing for the use and importation of genetically modified seeds and genetically engineered food products is a tide that is difficult to stem. So GMOs are here with us. But are they here to stay?
Greenpeace puts a big question mark to the superiority of Bt corn. Sure, yields may be higher than the average. There may be a reduction of use of chemical fertilizers. However, based on comparative figures, Greenpeace found that Bt corn seeds cost much more than the price of conventional hybrid varieties and Open Pollinated Varieties. Moreover, Bt corn crops require continued use of chemical pesticides, a condition that has deterred farmers from switching to Bt corn. At the end of the day, it isn?t the yield that matters but the net income realized. The farmers will look at the cost of production per unit, not the yield alone.
While Bt corn is meant to address the perennial problem of corn borer, it appears to be an expensive remedy. Greenpeace brings the good news that the National Crop Protection Center has been exploring and developing biological controls against the corn borer and other pests. These biological control agents are not only much cheaper (P70/hectare) but environment-friendly. And it is a local technology. Greenpeace reports that "the corn borer has been reduced to the status of a secondary pest [in Cagayan Valley] because of the success of the Department of Agricultures's Trichogramma program, which has reached about 60 percent to 70 percent of corn farmers in [Cagayan Valley]," quoting the Regional Crop Protection Center in Region II. The occurrence of corn borer in Isabela has reportedly been reduced by 80 percent to 85 percent.
Trichogramma is a wasp that attacks the eggs of moths and butterflies. It is, but one of several biological controls being promoted by concerned government agencies including the Farmer-Scientist Training Program. What is interesting about some of these programs is that they actively involve the farmers in developing farming practices and technologies, including plant varieties and pest controls, that will improve productivity, yield and income. The best practices are developed through extensive experimentation, which requires the participation of farmers. The Trichogramma program in Isabela has enabled farmers to lower the use of chemical pesticides, and some have stopped using chemicals altogether. Greenpeace found that "low cost, availability, effectivity and significant reduction of chemical inputs have made Trichogramma an extremely attractive option for poor farmers."
The country's millions of small farmers may not necessarily be against Bt corn or other genetically modified plant varieties. But modern biotechnology is not a feasible option for the farmers. The struggles of the farmers remain basic. The right to possess the land that they till is still a major concern with the agrarian reform program moving at a snail's pace. Farmers already holding Certificates of Landownership Award have not been physically installed in the land despite years of waiting. The Department of Land Reform entertains petitions filed by former landowners in regular courts despite the Supreme Court's earlier ruling that regular courts shouldn't be handling such cases. Farmers already installed are being evicted by goons or through questionable orders of the courts. Neither the Department of Agriculture nor the Department of Land Reform are sufficiently geared toward bringing support services to small-scale farmers, forcing many farmers to give up agriculture and their land. There is so much potential out there, and so little is being done to realize it.
The reported success of the Tricho?gram?ma and other biological controls being researched and promoted by the National Crop Protection Center and interagency programs such as the Farmer-Scientist Training Program is good news for the small-scale farmers. Higher incomes and improved productivity of the farmers benefit the entire country, both in term of food security and economic development. Bt corn may hold potential for productivity improvements, but it is not a viable crop alternative for a majority of Filipino farmers at this point in time.
Church group sets survey to probe claim on Bt corn - By BONG REBLANDO - Manila Bulletin - http://www.mb.com.ph/PROV2005062938128.html
GENERAL SANTOS CITY - The Diocese of Marbel says it will conduct a survey to look into claims by US multinational Monsanto that bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn gives high yield. This came after an international environment watchdog, Greenpeace-Southeast Asia, reported that a farmer in Naujan town, Oriental Mindoro complained of low harvest from his farm planted to Bt corn. "This is a disturbing report that contradicts claims by seed-producing firms like Monsanto of increased harvest from Bt corn," said Fr. Romeo Catedral, director of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel. The survey, the priest said, will be launched soon and will involve several corn farmers in South Cotabato and General Santos. Catedral hopes that the result of the survey would be released this year.
Aside from Monsanto, Pioneer Hibred, another foreign company, is also producing commercial Bt corn seeds whose yield is much higher than the ordinary corn. This claim, however, was being disputed by environmentalist groups, the Catholic Church and other militant organizations.
The diocese?s 24 parishes in the Socsargen (South Cotabato-Sarangani-General Santos City) growth corridor would be involved in the survey. The farmers who would participate are assured of confidentiality in the information they will provide. "The various social action centers in Socsargen," Catedral said, "would soon meet to draw up plans and mechanics of the survey and other related social matters affecting human health vis-à-vis Bt corn." Catedral reiterated Church's official opposition to Bt corn, saying the genetically engineered crop is harmful to man and the environment until after further scientific studies, globally accepted, say otherwise.
Bt-corn not financially rewarding - Allen V. Estabillo - Sun Star, June 27, 2005
THE genetically-engineered Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn does not directly offer increase in production yields, contrary to claims of "windfall benefits" by its producers and proponents in the government, a study made by environmental group Greenpeace bared. The study, entitled "The Economics of Bt Corn: Whose interest does it really serve?" claimed that Bt corn, which is being sold commercially in the country over the last two and a half years, is not a viable option for small Filipino farmers due to the high cost of the seeds, fertilizers and other inputs required in planting the crop. Greenpeace said it released the study last Monday to counter the continuing "misleading claims" by Bt corn seed producer Monsanto and the Department of Agriculture that the crop ensures increase in yields and reduces the farmers' dependence on fertilizers and chemicals.
"Our findings prove that the Arroyo government should never have approved the commercialization of Bt corn. Monsanto is promoting it as profitable for small farmers but it's not. Bt corn is actually a lot more expensive than conventional corn varieties," Greenpeace genetic engineering (GE) campaigner Daniel Ocampo said in a separate statement emailed to this reporter. According to the Greenpeace study, Bt corn seeds, which were developed to resist the Asiatic corn borer pests, are currently sold at P4,400 to P4,900 per 18-kilogram bag, approximately twice the price of the more expensive non-Bt hybrid corn seeds.
Conventionally bred hybrid seeds sell at about P1,500 to P,2700 while the open pollinated varieties (OPVs) are priced between P460 to P1,200, it said. An 18-kilogram bag of seeds covers one hectare of land for hybrid and Bt corn while and 20-kilograms for OPVs. For fertilizers, Greenpeace said it has established that Bt corn plants require more usage of Urea, complete or 14-14-14 and the 16-20-0. It said the usage is two to three bags per hectare for OPVs, six bags for hybrid and 15 bags for Bt corn. The said usage rate was reportedly recommended by Monsanto field technicians to farmers in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. In Isabela, the recommended fertilizer usage is around 4 bags per hectare for OPVs and 6 to 8 bags both for hybrid and Bt corn.
A check with some farmers in Tantangan town in South Cotabato showed the same recommendations from Monsanto personnel. "This large quantity of fertilizers recommended by the Monsanto agent was probably to artificially boost the yield for the first crops and convince other farmers to switch to Bt corn," Greenpeace said. For pest control, Greenpeace said a farmer who uses non-Bt hybrids and OPVs and biological control methods like trichocards for protection from corn borer may spend only for seeds if the trichocards are availed of for free. But if a charge of P1 per card is set, with the recommended 70 cards per hectare by the Regional Crop Protection Center, a farmer will incur an added cost of P 70 only for pest control instead of P2000 for pesticides, it said.
"If the price of hybrid seed is pegged at P2,000 per bag, then the cost will reach a maximum of P2,070. Therefore, the use of non-Bt varieties with trichocards is still much cheaper than Bt corn seeds," the study said. Ocampo said such findings make it clear from the beginning that planting Bt corn comes at a huge premium that most farmers cannot recover from.
South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos or the Socsksargen area is currently considered by Monsanto as a primary production area of Bt corn, which was placed at 4,700 hectares in January. Mindanao's total Bt corn production area reportedly reached close to 7,000 hectares as of January, Monsanto cited. Ronaldo Cayomo, Monsanto's corn lead for the area, earlier claimed that the utilization of Bt corn in the Socsksargen area has been on an upward trend supposedly due to the increased yield and income experienced by its users.
SoCot town bans Bt corn, pushes organic farming By Allen V. Estabillo MindaNews, 23 June 2005 - http://www.mindanews.com/2005/06/23nws-btcorn.html
SURALLAH, South Cotabato -- Local officials here declared to ban the entry and planting of genetically-engineered crops in the area, especially of the controversial Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn, as part of their moves to transform the municipality into a "chemical-free zone" and a haven for organic crops. Surallah Mayor Romulo Solivio made the declaration Wednesday afternoon after launching organic farming as the municipal government's flagship agriculture program for the next three years. "We will work for the changing of our farming systems from conventional to traditional sustainable agriculture through organic and biodynamic farming," Solivio said in a press conference. Dubbed "Palangumhan Aton Respituhon, Atimanon, Ibalik sa Sinadto kag Organiko" (PARAISO), Solivio said the program provides for a gradual phaseout of the use of non-organic fertilizers and pesticides in the town's 17 barangays. He said it also pushes for the massive planting of organic rice, which had been identified as the town's main product under the national government's "One Town One Product" program.
The municipal government initially tapped the services of the Don Bosco youth training center, a non-government training institution specializing on organic farming, based in Makilala town in Cotabato Province for the training of local farmers. To complement the program's implementation, Solivio said they will set as an official policy the banning of the entry, sale and planting of biotechnology products or genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in the municipality. He specifically cited a ban on the planting of the corn-borer resistant Bt corn produced by seed company Monsanto. "The organic farming principle essentially requires us to adopt only the traditional and natural farming systems and product and we don't intend to make any compromises or excuses," Solivio said. Solivio said he will also personally launch a campaign in the province for the adoption of the organic farming systems and the rejection of the GMOs. "We will make this stand known throughout the province and the neighboring areas by sponsoring a resolution against GMOs in our upcoming LMP (League of Municipalities of the Philippines) meeting," he said.
Solivio said they expect such stand to draw negative reactions and pressures from various groups, especially from seed companies and government agencies advocating biotechnology, but stressed that they will not give in to them. "For many years, we allowed the use of chemicals and these new crop technologies but what happened? Our farmers only became dependent on expensive inorganic inputs and remained poor," he said. "We need to find solutions to these problems and as a leader, I have the political will to do what is necessary," Solivio added.
The distribution and planting of Bt corn has been facing strong opposition from the Catholic church and environmental groups due to its supposed health and environmental risks. But the Department of Agriculture and seed producer Monsanto have repeatedly assured the safety of the Bt corn. Bt corn, which was developed to resist Asiatic corn borers, was distributed commercially in the Philippines beginning in 2003 after obtaining approval from the government in late 2002.
The Economics of Bt corn in the Philippines - New report by Greenpeace
Bt Corn in the Philippines was designed to be resistant to the Asiatic Corn Borer (ACB), Ostrinia furnacalis (Guenee), one of the most destructive corn pests in the Philippines. It is also presented as a 'golden opportunity', a practical and ecologically sustainable solution for poor corn farmers everywhere to increase their yields, thus improving their livelihoods and alleviating poverty. These claims are misleading. There are safer and more viable options in solving the corn borer woes of our corn farmers.
Bt corn is definitely not a biological means of controlling pests and it is not ecologically sustainable.
DOES IT HAVE TO BE BT CORN? (OR BT CORN IS NOT THE BEST OPTION)
Genetically Engineered Organisms are unpredictable. When released into the environment they produce unexpected results that could prove damaging in the long term. However, there are quite a number of readily available, cost effective and practical non-GE options that can beat the corn borer without having to resort these crops.
Synchronized planting by farmers with adjacent farms is the most common method used to avoid heavy corn borer attacks per farm. They also recommend planting corn as the main crop during the dry season as more severe infestation usually occurs during the rainy or wet season (July to September).
Detasselling of corn has also been proven to be effective against heavy corn borer attacks. The tassel is the corn borer's primary food source, and taking out 75% of the tassel per fie ld will reduce tremendously the number of larvae that reaches molting when they start boring holes into the corn stem. Other pest management strategies that farmers employ are intercropping, rotation cropping, fallow cropping and planting of conventional corn varieties that are resistant or tolerant to the corn borer.
Use of Bt corn also breeds concern about its impacts on soil health because the toxin in Bt crops is present in the whole plant and is expressed during its whole life cycle. The accumulation of Bt toxin in soil is possible since Bt toxin can persist in soils for over 200 days, particularly if there is a cold winter period. Insect resistance to Bt corn is another growing concern. In a meeting with several government agencies, including the Regional Crop Protection Center in Isabela, Monsanto is said to be looking for ways to assess how long it takes before the Asian corn borer gains resistance to Bt corn. There is overwhelming scientific data to support concerns of insect pest resistance.
THE BT CORN YIELD: MORE OR LESS?
Monsanto claims that yield could increase between a 20-40% with Bt corn compared to conventional corn varieties. In the Department of Agriculture's list of recommended commercial corn varieties, a good number of conventionally bred hybrid corn has the potential of surpassing Monsanto's claims.
Among the 43 varieties listed, 11 had the potential yield of more than 8.5 tonnes to 10.5 tonnes per hectare. Monsanto is misleading farmers by making them believe that only Bt corn could yield more than 8 tonnes.
BIOLOGICAL CONTROL IS THE WAY FORWARD
While DA is aggressively promoting Bt corn to deal with the corn borer situation on one hand, on the other it is saying that biological control measures are also highly effective. Experts say that the corn borer has natural enemies in the trichogramma (Trichogramma evanescens Westwood), earwig (Euborellia annulata Fab.), Flower bug (Orius tantillus Motschulsky), ladybug, lacewing, and spiders.
The female Trichogramma lays an egg within a recently laid host egg, and could parasitize about 100 eggs and may also destroy additional eggs by host feeding. These wasps are harmless to people, animals, and plants.
Another promising biological control agent against the corn borer is the earwig since it does not only attack corn borer eggs but also the larvae, pupae and adult as well as other corn pests.
The flower bug is yet another predator of the corn borer. Field studies show that 5-7 flower bugs per plant can effective ly regulate corn borer populations.
IS BT CORN WORTH IT?
While GE companies such as Monsanto claim that GE crops reduce the need for chemical inputs thereby resulting in more savings, more and more farmers in the US and Canada, in fact, are finding that GE crops only breed greater dependence on chemical inputs.
In the Philippines, the cost of Bt corn seeds are very high. Bt corn is sold at P4,400 to P4,900 per 18-kg bag. On the other hand, conventionally-bred hybrid seeds sell only at about P1,500 to P2,700, and Open Pollinated Varieties (OPVs) between P460 to P1200. An 18kg bag of seeds covers one hectare of land for hybrid and Bt corn, and 20kg bags for OPVs. Fertilisers used include Urea (P800-P900/bag), 14-14-14 (P750/bag) or 16-20-0, and usage is 2 to 3 bags per hectare for OPVs, 6 bags for hybrid, and 15 bags for Bt Corn. This large quantity of fertilisers recommended by the Monsanto agent was probably to artificially boost the yield for the first crops in order to convince other farmers to switch to Bt corn.
Comparison of costs for 1 hectare of land shows that OPV costs only about P3,570 if Trichogramma is used to protect crops, and around P5,500 if common pesticide is used. Hybrid on the other hand ranges only from P7,470 (tricho-protection) to P11,100 (pesticide). Bt corn however, at its cheapest, already costs P12,100 to around P18,400.
TAKING CONTROL OF OUR GENETIC RESOURCES
Genetic Engineering is very much an issue of control. Monsanto and other GE companies are able to obtain patents on these GE seeds /crops which then forces users of the products or the technology to pay royalties or technology fees to the company. A farmer who grows any GE seed is not allowed to save its seeds for the next cropping or exchange it with another farmer, a practice which farmers in the Philippines and in other countries have been doing since time immemorial until the advent of hybrid seeds.
Even a farmer who does not choose to plant GE seed may also face the risk of getting sued from patent infringement if his field gets contaminated by GE crops via cross pollination or seed mixing. There are numerous cases in North America where Monsanto took legal action against farmers whose fields got contaminated by GE crops. Monsanto has an annual budget of $10 Million and 75 staff devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting farmers.
The most famous case is that of Percy Schmeiser, a Canadian canola farmer whose field got contaminated with GE canola from a neighbor's field. He has spent more than $230,000 in legal bills for the past 5 years. After several years of deliberation, the Supreme Court of Canada decided on May 2004 that Monsanto's patent claims is valid.
With GE crops, genetic contamination is inevitable. Bt corn, in particular, is a wind-pollinated crop, thus, contamination is highly likely. Data shows that 98% of the pollen may be found within a 25-50 m radius. Smaller amounts travel to as far as 0.8 km under "suitable conditions".
Greepeace concludes that:
To date, Bt corn has neither proven to be a practical, nor ecologically sustainable option for small Filipino farmers for the following reasons:
1. The corn borer is a pest that is manageable. Various groups have enumerated various cultural and biological control methods that have been cheap, readily available and proven effective against the corn borer making it illogical to invest in Bt corn.
2. Bt corn seeds are a lot more expensive than non-Bt hybrids and OPVs even with additional cost for biological control methods.
3. Yield from non-Bt varieties could match if not exceed Bt varieties.
4. There are strong indications of negative effects to the soil ecosystem and non-target organisms.
5. Farmers may be sued for patent infringement or be exposed to other legal challenges from saving Bt corn seeds or from contamination of their crops.
Clearly, Bt corn is not a viable option for small Filipino farmers. It is an economic fluke. Bt corn has shown the true intentions of the GE companies, whose main motive for forcing GE crops on the world is, and remain to be, profit maximization.
GREENPEACE DEMANDS FOR THE GOVERNMENT:
1. To stop the release of new GE crops into the environment;
2. Stop the importation of new GE crops;
3. Establish efficient and sufficient segregation systems for GE and non-GE grains;
4. Institute rehabilitation and mitigation measures for areas that have been contaminated;
5. Speed up the promulgation of legislative measures that would address problems brought about by Genetic Engineering; and
6. Allocate substantial financial and technical support for the development of non-GE alternatives.
Monsanto's Bt corn: burden not boon - June 20, 2005 - http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/press/releases/pr-ge-20050620
Manila, Philippines - Greenpeace activists today occupied the Department of Agriculture's offices with banners denouncing Bt Corn, a genetically engineered (GE) corn patented and owned by American company Monsanto, as a financial and environmental burden for farmers. Greenpeace released evidence that Monsanto's claims of increasing crop yield and reducing dependence on fertilizers are patently false. "Greenpeace's findings prove that the Arroyo government should never have approved the commercialization of Bt corn. Monsanto is promoting it as profitable for small farmers but it's not. Bt corn is actually a lot more expensive than conventional corn varieties," said Daniel Ocampo of Greenpeace.
The Greenpeace report entitled "The Economics of Bt Corn: Whose Interest Does It Really Serve?" details the exorbitant cost of planting GE corn over conventional varieties. Bt corn seeds can cost as high as P4,400 to P4,900 per 18-kg bag; in contrast conventional corn varieties cost a lot lower, starting from P1,500 for conventionally bred hybrid seeds to as low as P460 for Open Pollinated Varieties (OPVs). Bt corn varieties also require higher fertilizer inputs, which makes it clear from the beginning that planting Bt corn comes at a huge premium that most farmers cannot recover from. Last week, farmer Tomas Datinguinoo, from Naujan, Orienal Mindoro, publicly exposed his experience of failure from Bt corn. "After hearing that Bt corn will mean higher yields and will not be attacked by the corn borer I decided to try my luck with Bt Corn. However, after planting three hectares of Bt corn, I decided to go back to conventional varieties because I did not earn more than I used to due to the high cost of seeds and inputs. I was told by the Monsanto agent to use 15 bags of fertilizer per hectare which amounted to thousands of pesos and, after selling my harvest, I only broke even," said Datinguinoo.
The Greenpeace report also challenges Monsanto's claim that Bt corn is the answer to eradicating damages caused by the Asiatic Corn Borer. Bt corn kills the corn borer by means of the Bacillus thuringiensis strain incorporated into its genetic makeup, which, according to Monsanto, reduces the need for pesticides. However, Monsanto conveniently forgets to mention that Bt corn also kills beneficial insects and contaminates soil, sometimes remaining active in Bt-planted plots for more than 200 days during cold periods. This accumulation can have possible long-term detrimental effects on soil health.
In contrast to the expensive quick-fix offered by Monsanto, a growing number of Filipino farmers are using an innovative way of solving the corn borer problem. The use of Trichogramma wasps, a natural enemy of the corn borer, to control infestations has proven to be safe and effective. Farmers that have shifted to Trichogramma say they have stopped using chemicals altogether because they have seen its effectiveness in controlling corn borer populations. The low cost, availability, efficiency and significant reduction of chemical inputs have made Trichogramma an extremely attractive option for farmers. These have contributed to the success rate of the program which has effectively reduced the occurrence of corn borer by 80-85% in the province of Isabela. The National Crop Protection Center even promotes its use, yet the Arroyo government remains staunchly pro-GMO, therefore undermining the success of an innovative, farmer-oriented and environmentally-friendly solution. "Clearly, an effective solution to control the corn borer exists. And Bt corn, contrary to the promises made by Monsanto, is a burden, not a boon. We call on the government to re-evaluate its position on Bt corn's commercialization," Ocampo said. "We should not put our farmers' livelihoods and our environment in danger for a company that is only interested in recouping its investments."
Notes to Editor
 The Economics of Bt Corn: Whose Interest Does It Really Serve? Greenpeace, June 2005
 The Asiatic Corn Borer damages corn plants through boring holes in the stems and pods that cause wilting of the leaves and crop losses. Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Research suggests that crop damage due to the corn borer is 20 to 30% annually.
 The Economics of Bt Corn: Whose Interest Does It Really Serve? Greenpeace, June 2005
Daniel Ocampo, Genetic Engineering Campaigner +63 917 8976416
Grace Duran, Media Assistant +63 917 8860662, +63 2 434 7034
Greenpeace hits Bt corn anew after farmer claims 'insignificant earning' - By Bong S. Sarmiento - MindaNews, 13 June 2005
KORONADAL CITY - An environmental group renewed over the weekend its call for Filipino farmers to shun the controversial Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn, after a farmer debunked "myths" that it results in higher yields and uses less fertilizers and chemicals. A Greenpeace-Southeast Asia statement quoted Tomas Datinguinoo, of Naujan in Oriental Mindoro, as saying that he failed to earn substantiallyfrom planting Monsanto?s Bt corn variety DK818YG. Datinguinoo maintains a five-hectare conventional corn farm in Naujan town in the last 30 years and adopted Bt corn following its commercial approval from the government in December 2002, a development strongly opposed by groups in South Cotabato backed by the local Catholic Church.
Pro-Bt corn groups, in a forum in Alabel, Sarangani early this year, had acknowledged that South Cotabato is the "hotbed" of opposition to the use of Bt corn in the country The sentiment against the transgenic plant in South Cotabato was so high that on August 29, 2001, disgusted militant farmers stormed and uprooted Monsanto's Bt corn plants at a field test site in barangay Maltana in Tampakan town. The crop was about to be harvested at that time.
"After hearing that Bt corn will mean higher yields and will not be attacked by the corn borer I decided to try my luck with Bt corn. However, after planting three hectares of Bt corn, I decided to go back to conventional varieties because I did not earn more than I used to due to the high cost of seeds and inputs," Datinguinoo said. "I was told by the Monsanto agent to use 15 bags of fertilizer per hectare which amounted to thousands of pesos and, after selling my harvest, I only broke even," he added.
Danny Ocampo, genetic engineering campaigner of Greenpeace-Southeast Asia, said the national government's decision to commercialize Bt corn has opened Philippine farms to the onslaught of Bt corn peddlers which, according to him, threatened organic farming methods. "Monsanto and other companies have been using a lot of publicity to trick Filipino farmers and our government, in the guise that Bt corn is more economically viable than conventional corn varieties. What our farmers do not know is that the only benefit from planting Bt corn goes to the companies who own the patents to these seeds," Ocampo stressed. "Our farmers and the general public are being misled into thinking that GMOs (genetically modified organisms), such as Bt corn, hold the promise of food security and increased income for our farmers. In fact, farmers like Mang Tomas [Datinguinoo] are being dragged into dependency on these companies for seeds and agrochemical farm inputs that continue to poison our environment and, in the long term, bury farmers in debt," he added. "GMOs have never been proven safe for health and the environment. Forcing Bt corn into our farms does not only threaten farmers' income but the health and environmental well-being of our country," he said.
Ronaldo Cayomo, Monsanto's territory lead for Mindanao, claimed in a briefing last March in Tampakan town that based on their evaluation, farmers using Bt corn could increase their yield by as much as 40 percent compared with conventional and hybrid varieties. "This could translate to an increase in yield of at least 2.5 tons per hectare depending on the area planted," he said. He also said that farmers who plant Bt corn, which is developed mainly to resist corn borer, can save on chemical pesticides for corn borers. He further claimed that Bt corn poses no threat to the environment and human health with the rigid safety tests supposedly done by the government prior to the transgenic plant?s approval.
The case of Bt Maize in the Philippines is a salutary tale - A Backgrounder on Dr. Traavik's Study - by Masipag May 26, 2004 - Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines - email@example.com - http://qc.indymedia.org/news/2004/05/659.php - http://www.masipag.org
On July 2003, the small, quiet village of Landan in Polomolok, South Cotabato was disrupted by an unusual outbreak of illnesses. About 51 individuals residing within the 100-meter radius of a Bt-corn field experienced bouts of respiratory and intestinal pains. "The problems started during the start of the flowering period of the nearby Bt-corn plantation," recounted Pablo Senon, a barangay leader in Landan. "The children as young as 5 months old got sick first. They complained of headaches, tummy aches, coughs, colds, dizzy spells and difficulty in breathing." The residents then decided to report the unusual incidence to church workers who immediately conducted a medical mission among the villagers. Then in September 2003, a scientist working on an independent research on Bt-corn volunteered to analyze the blood samples of the affected individuals….
On February 22, 2004, Norwegian scientist Dr. Terje Traavik disclosed in a conference in Kuala Lumpur the results of their ongoing research in the Norwegian Institute of Gene Ecology. Among three projects cited, the antibody analyses of blood sera from Philippine farmers generated the most reaction and interest among the audience. According to Dr. Traavik, they detected the presence of antibodies in the blood samples of 38 persons residing near a Bt-corn plantation in Polomolok, South Cotabato. These IgA, IgG and IgM antibodies are "specifically binding to Bt-toxin Cry1Ab" which means that these antibodies are released as a natural mechanism by the body when it is infiltrated by the said toxin or antigens. "The presence of the antibodies in the human blood show that these people have been exposed to the Bt-toxin during the last few months," said Dr. Traavik.
Dr. Traavik said that this result "might indicate a coincidence in time between the three observed events" - the first flowering season for Bt-corn, the outbreak of respiratory / intestinal disease among the residents near the Bt-corn field and the production of the antibodies. While the study cannot establish yet a relationship between the Bt-corn and the outbreak of illnesses, it does not also rule out the possibility that the exposure of the local residents to the Bt-corn caused their health problems. The production of antibodies specific to the Bt-toxin Cry1Ab simply indicate that the toxin has entered the farmers' and residents' body, hence the production of antibodies.
GMO-free legislation publicly launched on July 21 2004 - http://www.truthabouttrade.org/article.asp?id=2183
The landmark ordinance adopted by the provincial government prohibiting the entry of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Bohol will be publicly launched on July 21 as one of the highlights of the Sandugo-Agri Fair. On June 16 last year the Sangguniang Panlalawigan unanimously passed Resolution 2003-235 declaring Bohol free of GMO to protect the ecological balance of the province and health safety of Boholanos from the adverse effects of GMOs. The resolution was followed by Provincial Ordinance 2003-010, known as the "Safeguard against GMOs," which enumerated the conditions against the entry of GM plants, animals and microorganisms into the province with corresponding peresolution and ordinance. Bohol's legislation against GMOs is the first of its kind in the Philippines and comes amid growing worldwide concerns about the environmental and health impact of GMOs.
RESIST! The Philippine counterpart of the International Alliance Against Agrochemical TNCs (IAAATNCs), stated that an international campaign against Monsanto is being planned. RESIST! Agrochem TNCs Resistance and Solidarity Against Agrochemical TNCs c/o The Secretariat: 17-D Kasing-Kasing St., East Kamias, QC Telefax (632) 434-5467 email: firstname.lastname@example.org URL:http//www.geocities.com/resist_agtncs
Philippine Senate to hold another public hearing on GMOs Date Posted: 5/7/2003 Philippine Daily Inquirer via NewsEdge Corporation BAGUIO CITY - The Senate is willing to give critics of Bt corn another chance to rebut Malacanang's decision to commercialize genetically modified (GM) crops, Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. said here on Thursday.
Magsaysay, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture, scheduled another public hearing next week to accommodate new materials that a group of hunger strikers said would prove that the Bureau of Plant Industry had failed to examine the negative impact of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Philippine Greens secretary general Roberto Verzola ended his 22-day starvation on Wednesday to protest the entry of Bt corn in the country. American Peace Corp volunteer Andrew Haralam ended a parallel hunger strike here on Monday. But the government, Magsaysay said, is already focused on reinforcing agricultural productivity using new technology to cushion the impact of mglobalization. By 2004, most countries are obliged to lift all trade tariffs under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. In fact, he said, scientists at the University of the Philippines at Los Banos have been genetically modifying Philippine peanuts to accelerate the
commodity's protein content. Magsaysay said senators have suggested a strengthening of government financing, infrastructure and resources to build a parallel organics market. Verzola had urged the Senate to legislate new laws obliging manufacturers to identify the GM components of food products.
"We have done everything that is humanly possible to stop the poisoned seeds of genetically modified corn from being planted in our farms," stated Verzola. The agriculture department has a contract with Monsanto to buy the genetically modified corn seeds, for free distribution to farmers. "This is what we call the unholy alliance between the government and Monsanto," said Verzola.
"I've come to Manila in support of my fellow hunger strikers," said Andrew Haralam, a Peace Corps volunteer and an American national, who led a hunger strike in Baguio, northern Luzon. He was forced to resign after he launched his own sympathy strike on May 9."
Hunger strike against GM food ends today Gulf News, Manila - From Our Bureau Chief - 21-05-2003
Three hunger strikers decided to end their fast today, but expressed happiness that 100 other hunger strikers joined them overnight, to protest the proliferation of genetically modified corn in the country. "I lost 18 pounds," said Roberto Verzola, one of the three remaining hunger strikers who held rallies in front of the agriculture department's office in suburban Quezon City since April 22. "We have done everything that is humanly possible to stop the poisoned seeds of genetically modified corn from being planted in our farms," stated Verzola.
He blamed President Gloria Arroyo and Luis Lorenzo, the agriculture secretary, for not ordering a moratorium on the planting of the genetically modified corn in Philippine farms. Last December, Arroyo gave her approval to the proposal of Mosanto Corporation of the United States to sell seeds of a genetically modified corn with bacillus thuringienses which is meant to destroy corn borers.
"The Arroyo government has failed us," said Verzola, adding that Arroyo and Lorenzo did not put a moratorium on Mosanto's plan before leaving for the U.S.
"By this time, the seeds are being distributed to farmers. It will be difficult to control the distribution of the seeds. Once they are planted, in three months, the plants will bloom, and there will be cross-pollination with the local corn variety which will contaminate our fields with the toxic corn," explained Verzola. When that happens, the only way to control the spread of the toxic corn is by uprooting the plants.
By that time, the government will have to promise to compensate the farmers their losses.
"That kind of situation is untenable," noted Verzola.
At the same time, Mosanto has started to sell corn seeds at P4,500 ($86.54) for an 11-kilo bag, which can cover a hectare of farmland.
The agriculture department has a contract with Mosanto to buy the genetically modified corn seeds, for free distribution to farmers.
"This is what we call the unholy alliance between the government and Monsanto," said Verzola.
This, he added, will result in the cross pollination of the local corn variety, the contamination of corn fields, and the eventual weakening of the antibodies of the Filipino consumers, which will make them too weak to fight infectious diseases. "We will hold President Arroyo and Secretary Lorenzo liable for this kind of irresponsibility," said Verzola.
Meanwhile, other environment groups joined the "indignation" rally in front of the agriculture department late in the afternoon. Hunger strikers from other parts of the Philippines went to Manila for the event.
"I've come to Manila in support of my fellow hunger strikers," said Andrew Haralam, a Peace Corps volunteer and an American national, who led a hunger strike in Baguio, northern Luzon. He was forced to resign after he launched his own sympathy strike on May 9.
"The evidence against Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) corn is compelling," said Haralam.
Another hunger striker from Baguio, Manny Onalan, also arrived in Manila for the indignation rally. "I stopped eating in protest of Bt corn on May 7," he said.
The last day of the hunger strike was directed at President Arroyo and Mosanto, said other hunger strikers Several other environmental groups in the Philippines and abroad vowed to join the hunger strike in spirit, said Verzola.
Meanwhile, the lobby will be in Congress where a bill was recently filed to stop the spread of genetically modified food products in the country.
Phillipine Daily Inquirer May 12, 2003
HUNGER STRIKE HIGHLIGHTS ISSUES SURROUNDING GMOS - Gerald G. Lacuarta
The three-week-old hunger strike by four environmentalists opposed to the introduction of Bt corn in the country has focused national attention to the Department of Agriculture's silent approval last year of the pest-resistant crop. It has also given a dramatic and human face to the scientific and technical issues surrounding the commercial use of genetically engineered crops, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), purportedly to increase harvest yield and quality. "The protest at the DA highlights the apparent deliberate neglect of a fundamental tenet of our democratic system, that of the public's right to know, which can only be accomplished via public debate and discussion," said Akbayan Rep. Etta Rosales in a privileged speech delivered in Congress on Monday. The four hunger strikers, who have been joined by "running priest" Fr. Robert Reyes and NGO worker Ann Laracas, as well as Andrew Haralam and Michael Bengwayan in Baguio, Manny Onalan in Kalinga and hundreds of other farmers across the country, are demanding a moratorium on the commercialization-the planting and sale-of GMO crops, particularly Bt corn which was created by the US-based Monsanto Corp.
Bt corn produces the naturally occurring Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) protein that makes it high-yielding[???] and pest resistant, particularly to the corn borer. Groups opposed to GMOs, however, warn that the corn borer over time would eventually develop a resistance to the Bt protein, while pollen from Bt corn would contaminate local varieties and result in unexpected mutations that could never be reversed. Rosales said Congress should conduct hearings on the risks posed by GMOs and the "evidently rushed approval" by the DA of the introduction of Monsanto's Bt corn under the brand name Yieldgard. A moratorium should be ordered pending the conclusion of the congressional inquiry, she said. The DA, however, does not wont to stop the commercial application of Bt corn, maintaining that there is no scientific evidence to justify a moratorium. Monsanto's Bt corn has been tested in field trials in Bukidnon, South Cotabato, Camarines Sur and Isabela, with reported increases in yield.
On April 22nd a hungerstrike involving nine people began infront of the Department of Agriculture in Manilla to insist the government there halts the distribution of GM Bt corn, which Monsanto are scheduled to introduce in May or June of this year. The spokesperson for the group on hungerstrike is Roberto Verzola, Secretary-general of the Phillipine Greens. (see www.biotech-info.net and www.bwf.org)
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