8-Misc: South-East Asian people's forum on 40 years of IRRI
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----------------------------- 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: http://www.gene.ch/ --------------------
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
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,
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,
BISSIG KASAMA-TK, KMP, MASIPAG, PAN-Phil., PUMALAG
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
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
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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