Greenpeace, NGOs urge halt to GMO cultivation
Greenpeace and allied local organizations are calling for a stop to state-encouraged cultivation of genetically modified crops (GMOs), which is expected to gain further ground with the meeting of leaders in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
Along with the Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (Sibol), Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Masipag), Greenpeace expressed concern that the Philippines—which is hosting APEC meetings—is promoting GMOs in the region despite the opposition and legal challenges that this faces domestically.
Zelda Soriano, legal and political advisor of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said yesterday in a briefing the Department of Agriculture last month requested Apec delegates to show improvements in the implementation of GMO regulations in their economies.
Soriano said that while the Philippines was the first Southeast Asian country to establish a regulatory system for GMOs, the country was far from being an ideal model or benchmark.
“The regulatory system is insufficient, not transparent and not scientifically backed,” the lawyer said.
She added that there was yet no Philippine law that governs the field testing, commercialization and related activities on GM crops.
“What we have is a policy statement and administrative order, which is beset with complaints and questions for inadequate of economic, social, environmental and other safeguards from the potential adverse impacts and risks of GM crops,” Soriano said.
According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), the Philippines remains among the top countries where genetically modified (GM) crops are being cultivated as biotech produce continue to be the “fastest-adopted crop technology” in the world.
ISAAA data show the Philippines ranked 12th among the 28 countries that have so far adopted GM crops.
As of the end of 2014, there were 73.1 million hectares planted to GM crops in the top-ranked United States. In the Philippines, biotech corn is thriving in 800,000 hectares.
This makes the Philippines part of a list of 19 “mega-countries” or those with more than 50,000 hectares devoted to biotech produce.
Chito Medina, executive director of Masipag, said government policies were often contradicting, like promoting chemical farming, GMOs and organic farming.
“Controlling the transboundary flow of GM crops in the context of regional economic integration (whether through Apec of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is even more challenging,” Medina said.
“GMO contamination of non-GMO crops by natural or accidental means has been documented in so many countries and many times over,” he added.
The three groups are advocating “ecological agriculture,” described as a farming method that combines modern science and innovation with respect to nature and biodiversity.
“(This method) does not contaminate the environment with chemical inputs or use GM crops,” said Shen Maglinte, executive director of Sibat.
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