The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) has criticized the Aquino government for rushing new rules pertaining to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) imports in the face of the recent Supreme Court’s ruling on the BT eggplant that also temporarily stopped the government from accepting applications for field testing, propagating, and importing GMOs.
The SC decision effectively nullified Administrative Order No. 8 series of 2002 or the “Rules and Regulation for the Importation and Release into the Environment of Plant and Plant Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology.”
But last week, the National Committee for Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) has started a series of meetings for the drafting of a new joint department circular under the DOST-DA-DENR-DOH-DILG 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.” The government targets the new circular to be signed on February 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 new ‘super circular’ in the interest of multinational GM companies and importers and traders of GM products,” KMP chairperson Rafael Mariano said, adding that farmers and local producers, the largest sector that will be primarily affected by this new ‘super AO’ were not at all informed or consulted by the agencies who led the meetings. “This super AO will become a ‘killing blow’ to the ailing domestic agriculture.”
“With regards to the implementation of the SC decision, what will happen to farmers severely affected by GM field testings and trials, what will happen to agricultural farms and the immediate environment exposed to GMOs and accompanying chemicals and inputs? What will be the liability and redress for agrochem and GM companies for the negative impacts brought by GMOs?” Mariano asked. Instead of rushing a new circular, the government should instead address these issues.
“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.
“Maybe scientific studies have prospered for the interest of foreign companies like Monsanto and Syngenta but farmers remained poor, in debt and landless,” Mariano said.
“Based on our thorough social investigation, the commercial propagation of Bt corn in the country more than a decade ago have caused irreparable socio-economic damages to millions of corn farmers as well as negative impacts on consumer health and the environment,” the peasant leader said.
“Only through genuine land reform that will address landlessness of farmers can rural 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 said.#