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Gov’t accused of ‘railroading’ new circular on GMOs

/ 03:12 PM January 27, 2016

A peasant group has accused the Aquino administration of railroading a new circular that would supposedly relax the importation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and acceptance of applications for “testing, propagating, and importing GMOs” in the country.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Wednesday said the National Committee for Biosafety of the Philippines had started a series of meetings for the drafting of a new joint department circular under the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health, and Department of Interior and Local Government for the “Rules and Regulation for the Research and Development, Handling and Use, Transboundary Movement, Release into the Environment and Management of Plant and Plant Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology.”

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KMP said the government was eyeing the circular to be signed on Feb. 16 “as import permits of animal feeds and other GM products are set to expire.”

“While the landmark Supreme Court decision on the BT eggplant has yet to be implemented and enjoyed by farmers, local producers and consumers, the government is railroading a ‘super circular’ in the interest of multinational GM companies and importers and traders of GM products,” KMP chairperson Rafael Mariano said in a statement, referring to the Supreme Court decision stopping the government and private companies from field testing “Bt talong,” a variety of genetically modified eggplant.

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“This super AO (administrative order) will become a ‘killing blow’ to the ailing domestic agriculture,” he said.

In its decision, the high court also voided the DA Administrative Order (AO) No. 8, series of 2002, which lays down the rules and regulations for the importation and release into the environment of plants and plant products derived from the use of modern biotechnology.

Noting that local farmers and producers were not informed nor consulted by the agencies, Mariano said the government should address the issues hounding the agricultural sector, such as negative impact of GMOs and field testings to farms, instead of “rushing” a new circular.

“The scientific community have issued harsh reactions towards the SC ruling, but did not address the ‘uncertainties and the possibilities of irreversible and serious harm’ posed by GM crops and products referred by the SC decision,” Mariano said.

READ: SC Bt ‘talong’ decision: criticism baseless | Dark day for science

“Maybe scientific studies have prospered for the interest of foreign companies like Monsanto and Syngenta but farmers remained poor, in debt and landless,” he said.

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Citing the group’s “thorough social investigation,” the peasant leader also warned that the commercial propagation of Bt corn in the Philippines more than a decade ago had caused “irreparable socio-economic damages to millions of corn farmers as well as negative impacts on consumer health and environment.

“Only through genuine land reform that will address landlessness of farmers can rural and development and food security be realized. A genuinely developed agriculture and countryside will in turn become the backbone of national industrialization in which science and technology for the people can be truly achieved for the interest of Filipinos,” Mariano added.

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TAGS: agri, Agriculture, Bt talong, genetically modified organism, GMO, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, KMP
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