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Alliance calls for IRRI’s immediate closure

By Abigail Kwok
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 18:48:00 03/18/2010

Filed Under: Food, Agriculture, Technology (general)

MANILA, Philippines?An alliance on Thursday called for the immediate shut down of the International Rice Research Institute for allegedly failing to help the country become self-sufficient in rice production even after 50 years of the institute?s existence.

The group RESIST! Agrochemical TNCs, an alliance of farmers, scientists and NGOs, said that despite of 50 years of operation, IRRI has failed to provide the Philippines with enough rice.

?The Philippines, as the host country of IRRI, has had access to the technology that IRRI developed. But 50 years later, the country is now the world's largest rice importer. The Philippines must import 10 percent of its rice requirement because it does not have enough rice to feed its people,? the group said in a statement.

?With drought, climate change and El Niño devastating crops, now is the time examine whether 50 years of hosting the IRRI has helped the Philippines achieve self-sufficiency in rice,? it added.

Among the reasons cited by the group as to how IRRI failed include:

? IRRI has ?systematically deceived? farmers by introducing high yielding varieties (HYVs) of rice to boost crop yields. But HYVs are a threat to the environment and agriculture of the Philippines and all countries where HYVs are planted;

? IRRI has declared its Green Revolution a success in increasing crop yields. But the Green Revolution has also led to the poverty of farmers and the people.

? IRRI cannot deny its influence on government policies on agriculture. It has never been neutral. Governments have used the Green Revolution as an effective instrument to divert the clamor of farmers for genuine agricultural development to fake development focused on high crop yields.

? From the establishment of IRRI, agrochemical transnational corporations (TNCs) have been the sole beneficiaries of IRRI's programs and technologies. IRRI is a stamp pad for technologies created by TNCs.

? IRRI must be closed immediately! It must be replaced by a rice institution that will serve the genuine interests, capacity and needs of farmers and the people.

?With IRRI's 50th anniversary, we farmers continue to ask why we remain poor in spite of the supposed beneficial technology that IRRI is promoting? Why have we been forced to use costly pesticides and fertilizers that have led to the high cost of production? Why can farmers no longer exchange seeds?? said Wilfredo Marbella, the group?s convener.



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