GENET archive


3-Food: Philippine Catholic CHurch continues battle versus GE food

genet-news mailing list

                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Church continues battle vs genetic-modified food
SOURCE: Philippine Daily Inquirer, by Villamor Visaya Jr.
DATE:   November 19, 2001

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

Church continues battle vs genetic-modified food

ILAGAN, Isabela -- The war over genetically modified organism (GMO)-laced 
crops and coal mining in Isabela is far from over. Roman Catholic Church 
leaders led by Bishop Sergio Utleg of the Diocese of Ilagan and priests in 
35 towns and two cities in the province renewed their campaign against Bt-
corn farming and coal mining. In a pastoral letter read during last 
Sunday's Mass in churches in the province, Utleg said Bt-corn farming and 
coal mining have been denying "the blessings of life for millions of 

"The church is not against development and modern technology. Rather, we 
want to ask our people and leaders: For whom is development? Who is to 
benefit from these so-called development projects and modern technology? 
Development must serve the needs and promote the progress of all people," 
Utleg said.

Fr. Gregorio Uanan, chancellor of the Diocese of Ilagan and leader of the 
Anti-GMO Multi-Sectoral Alliance of Isabela, assailed the Monsanto-
Philippines for disclosing that Bt-corn has recorded a "high yield" in its 
field tests in Alinguigan 2nd in Ilagan, Carulay in Echague town, and 
Villaluna in Cauayan City, all in Isabela.

Monsanto is the leading proponent of Bt-corn field tests in the country. 
"Naturally, it has a high yield at first . . . but eventually the corn 
borer gets immuned, as researches say, and farmers would end up losing 
income," Uanan told the INQUIRER. Dr. Arnold Estrada, Monsanto-Philippines 
product development manager, has reported a "very high yield" in its field 
trials, a better output than what was recorded in General Santos City.

The tests, Estrada said, were proven to be a success as the firm has 
confirmed the resistance of Yieldgard corn against Asiatic corn borer and 
evaluated the corn's economic value and better grain quality. He said 
Monsanto would not debate with church leaders. He maintained, however, that 
Bt-corn has been proven safe after thorough testing for toxicity, 
nutritional values and feed values.

"Official studies conducted by the US Department of Agriculture, the US 
Department of Environment and Protection, and the US Food and Drugs 
Administration have shown that Bt-corn has no adverse effects on people's 
health and environment," Estrada said.

Utleg said Bt-corn "does not promote the general welfare of the people nor 
solve the problem of poverty." "There are credible scientists who tell us 
that it is toxic and that it can contaminate other corn varieties through 
cross-pollination," he said. Estrada, however, said the cross-pollination 
of Bt-corn plants with ordinary corn does not contaminate the plants.

The Catholic Church has accused Monsanto, a United States-based 
agricultural company, of trying to impose a monopoly of the corn industry 
throughout the world. "The solution to poverty and low productivity is 
genuine land reform and nationalist industrialization," Utleg said. He 
called on legislators to pass a law outlawing Bt-corn field trials.

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Greenpeace to label GMO products
SOURCE: Philippine Daily Inquirer, Delfin Mallari Jr.
DATE:   November 19, 2001

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

Greenpeace to label GMO products

LUCENA CITY -- For the public to celebrate the Christmas season free of 
food products contaminated with "genetically modified organisms," 
Greenpeace activists said they would conduct "GMO labeling patrols" in 
major supermarkets nationwide. "Greenpeace labeling patrols" will saturate 
major supermarkets in major urban centers to "discreetly" slap labels on 
food products that contain genetically modified organisms or GMOs.

Von Hernandez, campaign manager for Greenpeace Southeast Asia told the 
INQUIRER that they would conduct the information mobilization in the 
absence of a government mandatory labeling policy for genetically altered 
food products in the country. "Most Filipino households, no matter how 
poor, would indulge on foods for their traditional celebration of 
Christmas. At least we would be able to help them distinguish which food 
products from the grocery shelves are safe to eat," Hernandez said in a 
phone interview. Aside from their "labeling mission," Hernandez said, 
Greenpeace activists will also conduct public information campaigns through 
different forums in the province. "We will make our appeal through local 
radio, television and provincial community papers to deliver our message 
across in time for the holiday celebration," he added.

Last week, Greenpeace activists demonstrated inside a popular supermarket 
chain outlet in Metro Manila and attached stickers marked "GMO 
contaminated" on popular food products, particularly on several brands of 
baby food, infant formula, hotdog and other snack items they earlier 
confirmed to contain GMOs in laboratory tests. Beau Baconguis, genetic 
engineering campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said in a statement, 
that they were taking action, "because we believe that Filipino consumers 
have a right to choose, whether they want to eat genetically modified food 
or not."

Baconguis has blamed the government's failure to establish an effective 
labeling system for genetically altered food products. "Unfortunately, 
government neglect is robbing consumers of their right to know what they 
are eating and prevents them from exercising their option to reject food 
items contaminated with GMOs," she pointed out.

"Given the lethargic and seemingly apathetic response of the government on 
this issue, we are also challenging retailers and food producers to decide 
whether they want to cheat consumers by hiding behind the inadequacies of 
the present system or respect their rights by providing truthful and 
reliable information on all of their products," she added.

Hernandez also stressed that at the very least, "people must have the right 
to know which food products are genetically manipulated, especi ally given 
the unknown impacts of this experiment with our food on human health and 
the environment."


|                   GENET                     |
| European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering |
|                                             |
|             Hartmut MEYER (Mr)              |
|               Kleine Wiese 6                |
|           D - 38116 Braunschweig            |
|                 Germany                     |
|                                             |
| phone: +49-531-5168746                      |
| fax:   +49-531-5168747                      |
| email:                    |