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7-Misc: Philippine NGOs file law suit against GM trials



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TITLE:  Legal action eyed against field tests of modified crops
SOURCE: BusinessWorld, Philippines, by Earl Warren B. Castillo
DATE:   July 8, 1999

----------------- archive: http://www.gene.ch/ ------------------


Legal action eyed against field tests of modified crops

A group of local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) is taking
its battle against genetically modified crops a notch higher. The
Network Opposed to Genetically Modified Organisms said it is
planning to file a court case to prevent multinational
agribusiness firms from conducting local field experiments. In a
press briefing yesterday in Quezon City, the group said it may
initiate legal action to prevent the field tests if the
government continues to ignore its plea against the cultivation
of genetically modified crops.

Two multinational agribusiness firms have asked the government to
allow them to conduct field experiments for the cultivation of Bt
corn. Bt corn is a genetically engineered variety of the crop
which is capable of releasing its own pesticide once attacked by
pests. "We will do everything we can in the legislative arena and
even (seek) judicial action just to prevent the field release of
Bt corn in this country," Elenita C. Dano, policy and information
officer of the Southeast Asia Regional Institute for Community
Education (SEARICE), said.

SEARICE is the network's lead convenor. The network is composed
of 26 NGOs which include, among others, Greenpeace Philippines,
Haribon Foundation, Green Forum, Mother Earth Foundation and the
Citizens' Alliance for Consumer Protection. "We are even
considering the possibility of filing a court case if worse comes
to worst," Ms. Dano said. She said they have repeatedly sent
formal letters to various government agencies on the possible
health and environmental hazards of genetically modified crops
but these have largely been ignored. In previous press
conferences, the network has warned that Bt corn may be harmful
for human consumption since humans will also be ingesting the
crop's pesticide.

The network also said field experiments on the cultivation of
such crops will allow the prolonged exposure of pests to Bt
corn's pesticide. This, the network said, could help pests
develop their own resistance to Bt corn's pesticide over time,
thus rendering it's pesticide useless. Agribusiness giants
Pioneer Hi-Bred Philippines, Inc. (Pioneer) and Agroseed Corp.
(Agroseed) have filed separate applications with the National
Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) for the field
testing of Bt corn. Pioneer Hi-Bred hopes to conduct its
experiments in Barangay Bay, Laguna. Meanwhile, Agroseed, a
subsidiary of agribusiness multinational Monanto, wants to carry
out its field experiments in Barangay Lagao in General Santos
City. 



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