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2-Plants: Bt corn: Not in our food, not in our farms!

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SOURCE: Hunger Strikers' Press Statement, The Philippines
        edited and sent by Agnet, Canada
DATE:   Apr 22, 2003

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Starting April 22, we the undersigned (four women and five men) will be
holding an indefinite hunger strike in front of the Department of Agriculture at
the Quezon Memorial Circle, to ask the government to stop the distribution of
a genetically-modified variety of corn seeds called Bt corn. The seeds are
scheduled for commercial distribution nationwide by Monsanto Corp. starting
May or June this year.

Bt corn produces its own built-in poison to kill a pest called the corn
borer. If we eat Bt corn, we also ingest the poison. What is worse, this ability
to produce a built-in poison is hereditary; it is passed on to all subsequent
generations of the corn. It can also be passed on to native varieties
through cross-pollination. This will surely happen because corn is wind-pollinated.

We ask the government to quarantine these Bt corn seeds and allow them for
laboratory experiments only. Today, if a tourist from Hongkong with fever or
sore throat tries to enter the country, he has to be quarantined while the
doctors are debating whether he has SARS or not. This is the right precautionary
approach. With Bt corn, scientists are still debating whether or not it
increases the risk of stomach and colon cancers or other health and environmental
problems. In the meantime, it should be quarantined and allowed only for
contained laboratory experiments.

We have tried everything legally possible to stop this corn variety from
being distributed, in vain. The government still approved its commercialization.
Once widespread distribution and planting starts sometime May or June, the
irreversible spread of this poison-bearing corn will begin. Then, recalling it
will become prohibitively expensive, if at all possible. The media and the
public have not paid much attention to this issue because of their
preoccupation with other important issues like the Iraq war and SARS. So we now have to
go through extraordinary measures to call their attention and stop the
distribution of this corn variety. Our principles do not allow us to engage in
violence, which is often the last resort of desperate victims faced with an
insensitive government conniving with a criminal corporation and showing little
regard for people's livelihood, health or life. Very often too, such violence
gets the government's attention and forces it to listen and negotiate.

But that option is not open to us, so this indefinite hunger strike is our
last resort.

We hope that the media and the public will finally take real notice of our
concerns, that the government will wake up to the folly of its decision, and
that we can keep Monsanto from irreversibly poisoning our food and our farms.

Luisita Esmao, PAKISAMA
Arma Bertuso, SEARICE
Gigie Cruz, GREENPEACE volunteer
Anne Larracas, Philippine Greens
Roberto Verzola, Philippine Greens
Mark Cervantes, SEARICE
Antonio Claparols, Ecological Society of the Philippines
Ramon Fernando, Earth First!
Rei Panaligan, Philippine Greens


Hartmut Meyer       to contact me from Apr 22 - Apr 27
Kleine Wiese 6       please use:

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