Greenpeace calls for more stringent checks on GMOs

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MANILA, Philippines — Environmental group Greenpeace Philippines has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to be more stringent in checking the entry into the country of imported foodstuff that contain genetically modified organisms.

Greenpeace aired the appeal as the Supreme Court granted its petition for a writ of kalikasan stopping field trials of Bt eggplant in the Philippines.

“Greenpeace believes the granting of the writ of kalikasan to be a recognition of the threats that GMOs pose to human health and the environment. We welcome this as a positive development. GMOs and GMO field trials clearly violate every Filipino’s constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology, and their invasion into our fields and our diets must be stopped,” said Daniel Ocampo, sustainable agriculture campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Greenpeace said the DA had been lax in approving GMO foods, giving the green light to a total of 67 GMOs for importation, consumption and propagation since 2001, without rejecting a single application.

“The Supreme Court has given hope to Filipinos as its decision now puts into spotlight the country’s flawed GMO approval system, which has never rejected any GMO application, allowing dangerous GMO crops to be planted and eaten by Filipinos. This is an outrage and such a regulatory system that clearly disregards the public good must be scrapped,” he said.

Greenpeace urged the DA to inform the public of GMO foods that enter the country, saying the long-term health effects of these crops and products on the public’s health and on the environment had yet to be fully known.

On April 26, Greenpeace, along with other groups, petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of kalikasan and writ of continuing mandamus against GMO field trials.

The petition sought to stop immediately the field trials on the Bt eggplant, which the group said had led to signs of toxicity in the livers and kidneys of test rats.

A writ of kalikasan is a remedy available to a person or group whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated or threatened by an unlawful act of a public official, private individual or entity and affects a big number of people.

A writ of continuing mandamus, on the other hand, is issued by a court in an environmental case directing an agency of the government to perform an act decreed by final judgment until the judgment is fully satisfied. It is filed by the aggrieved party.

“We hope this writ of kalikasan will compel the DA and GMO regulators to review their agenda independent of pressures and the influence of multinational corporations. We are also calling on the people to be more vigilant in protecting our food and on the government to be accountable for regulations that go against protecting our health and the environment,” Ocampo said.

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