GENET archive


8-Misc: South-East Asian people's forum on 40 years of IRRI

----------------------------- GENET-news -----------------------------

TITLE:  A) People's forum on 40 years of IRRI
        B) Debate heats up over high-tech rice research
SOURCE: A) Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Philippines
        B) Philippine News & Features
DATE:   both March 24, 2000

-------------------- archive: --------------------

Dear Friends,

Greetings of solidarity from the Philippines!

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) celebrates its 40th 
Foundation Anniversary on 4 April 2000. With more than 200 
scientists, donors, and senior government officials from various 
countries expected to attend, this is an occasion where the 
institution -- battling for relevance and funding -- will showcase 
its "scientific efforts in combating hunger around the world." 
Bannering the theme "Rice Research for the New Millennium", the event 
will also serve as a springboard for IRRI's current research 
initiatives on genetic engineering.

Our experience tells us this is too much.

As a response, the Farmer Scientist Partnership for Development 
(Masipag), Inc., the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the 
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Philippines are jointly organizing a 
two-day international action on 3 and 4 April aimed at reminding the 
public about IRRI's adverse impact on agriculture.

The "People's Forum on 40 Years of IRRI" on 3 April, will tackle 
IRRI's wayward history and its current programs and direction. 
Testimonies from representatives of social movements in the Asia 
Pacific region will highlight past and present realities as well as 
the political, economic, sociocultural and ecological impact of the 
Institute on the worldÕs agricultural sector and economies in 
general. (Below is the program for the whole day affair.)

The People's Forum will be followed by a protest rally on 4 April 
where thousands of farmers, researchers and advocates will demand, 
among other things, the dismantling of IRRI -- a mammoth symbol of 
the worldÕs hunger. This will take place in front of IRRI's 
headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna, the Philippines. Parallel actions 
are anticipated in Bangladesh, Thailand and other countries.

This letters serves as an invitation to join us in Los Baños or to 
organize your own solidarity actions on 4 April wherever you may be.

In the service of the people,

Dennis A. Maliwanag
Program Officer


People's forum on 40 years of IRRI

3 April 2000
Baker Hall, University of the Philippines Los Baños, College, Laguna, 

Ms. Gretchen Colting, College Editors Guild of the Philippines
Dr. Romy Quijano, Pesticide Action Network Philippines

 8:00- 8:15 Arrival/Registration
 8:15- 8:25 Welcome Addresses: Mr. Jun Layosa, BISSIG-PAMANTIK, Dr. 
            Lina Briones, MASIPAG
 8:25- 8:30 Opening Remarks: PUMALAG
 8:30- 9:00 Capturing the Past: 40 Years of IRRI Dr. Burton Oñate, 
            MASIPAG Scientist
 9:00- 9:30 40 Years of Peasant Struggle: Ka Paeng Mariano, KMP Chair
 9:30- 9:45 Snack and cultural presentation
 9:45-11:00 Country experiences (15 mins. per country) Bangladesh, 
            Cambodia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand
11:00-11:30 Open Forum Moderator: Ms. Sonia Palatan, MASIPAG
11:30-12:00 Press Conference AMGL, Assembly of the Poor of Thailand, 
12:00-12:30 Lunch Break
12:30- 1:00 Film Showing

 1:00- 1:30 IRRI's Research Agenda Today: The Hotspots Mr. Devlin 
 1:30- 2:00 Open Forum Moderator: SIBAT
 2:00- 2:30 IRRI Workers Situation BISSIG-PAMANTIK
 2:30- 3:00 Open Forum Moderator: AGHAM
 3:00- 3:30 Snack (w/ Cultural)
 3:30- 4:00 The Multi-dimensions of IRRI Mr. Antonio Tujan Jr, IBON 
 4:00- 4:30 Open Forum Moderator: Mr. Manny Yap, MASIPAG
 4:30- 5:00 Synthesis/Call to Action Dr. Romy Quijano, PAN Philippines
 5:00- 5:30 Closing Remarks KASAMA-TK

Organized by: Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Farmer Scientist 
Partnership for Development (Masipag) Katipunan ng mga Samahang 
Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK) Pesticide Action Network 
(PAN), Philippines

MASIPAG/Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development
3346 Aguila St., Rhoda Subd.
Los Baños, Laguna
Tel./Fax (63-49) 536-5549


Debate heats up over high-tech rice research

QUEZON CITY - Breeding new types of rice through genetic engineering 
will be high in the agenda of a coming meeting of about 200 rice 
scientists and researchers from around the world gathering in the 
Philippines later this month. Yet the genetic method of creating new 
rice strains remains controversial, even objectionable, to certain 
groups who are worried that kind of research is producing deadly 
strains, instead.

The debate is expected to heat up as the International Rice Research 
Conference (IRRC) is held at Los Baños, Laguna, from March 31 to 
April 3, where scientists are expected to discuss, among others, 
research updates on what are sometimes called super-hybrids. These 
are rice strains artificially-developed to show desirable 
characteristics, such as greater pest resistance.

"We desperately need cutting-edge science and technology if we are 
going to be able to continue to successfully address the challenges 
of food security and poverty alleviation in the new millennium," said 
Dr. Ronald P. Cantrell, director general of the Los Baños-based 
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), conference host.

Farmers have to produce 40 to 50 percent more (and better) rice to 
meet consumer demand in 2025, said IRRI crop physiologist Dr. 
Shaobing Peng, in a press release. Thus, rice has to be produced 
increasingly through methods using less land, less water, less labor, 
and fewer chemicals, Peng said. Scientists, he added, "must develop 
rice varieties with higher yield potential, durable resistance to 
diseases and insects, and tolerance for abiotic stresses."

But, these scientists' work are sometimes met with fear and 
skepticism by others. Grain, a non-government organization that 
promotes local control over biodiversity, said in a recent release 
that genetically manipulating rice breeds to solve Vitamin A 
deficiency in the Philippines, for example, is a "flawed" approach.

"Golden rice," a new type of rice genetically-engineered to contain 
vitamin A, will not help at all, said a Grain briefing paper, 
entitled Engineering Solutions to Malnutrition. Grain said this is so 
because deficiency in the vitamin happens as a result of general 
malnutrition, poverty, and environmental degradation. None of this is 
addressed by the "golden rice," Grain said.

"Golden rice" is also tangled up in corporate patents, which could 
hamper its availability to the poor people. The Grain report says the 
best way to solve vitamin-A deficiency among Filipinos is to allow 
consumers a diverse diet, which can happen if farmers are urged to 
plant a wide range of food crops.

Vitamin A and other necessary nutrients may be found from local 
varieties of green leafy vegetables, and people need only to be free 
to grow them, and urged to include them in their diet, said Grain. On 
the other hand, genetic engineering poses unknown threats to local 
biodiversity, and "golden rice" is part of the problem, not the 
solution, it said.


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