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2-Plants: Philippine Catholic Bishops Conference asks President tohalt Bt-corn

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

TITLE:  Church asks GMA to halt Bt-corn
SOURCE: Financial Times - Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, UK, by Lino
        Gilbert K. Parone Jr.
DATE:   Feb 6, 2003

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Church asks GMA to halt Bt-corn

CEBU CITY-The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is
asking President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to postpone authorizing the
widespread use of a hybrid corn that health and environment advocates
claim is dangerous to humans.

Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal told reporters on Sunday that the
Bacillus Turengensis variety of corn (BT-Corn), a genetically modified
organism (GMO), was discussed in the one-day 86th Plenary Assembly of the
CBCP in Manila.

"We are asking the permission to postpone granting of permission for use
of the hybrid seeds until a comprehensive study on BT-Corn be made
because it deals with something we consume," Cardinal Vidal said.

Vidal said the bishops wanted their stand known on the use of these GMOs.

"We have to be careful about what we consume. Because once it is there,
how can we remedy the situation with its consequences?" he said.

But the Department of Agriculture supports the use of BT-corn, a hybrid
variety of corn, which is said to be advantageous to local farmers
because it is resistant to common pest corn borers.

Dr. Pamela Fernandez, a plant pathologist from the University of the
Philippines-Los Banos, however, maintained that introducing a
genetically-altered species into the natural food cycle of living beings
always holds the danger of affecting the entire bio-chain.

"There is what we call mutation," she told the Inquirer recently.

Scientists are reportedly creating new life forms by taking genes from
one species and inserting them into unrelated species to produce a
desired trait.

Examples are potato with a chicken gene for increased resistance to
disease, tomato with a human gene for increased resistance to heavy
metals, or fish with a strawberry gene for increased resistance to frost,
thus increasing shelf life.

Earlier reports said that in Third World countries like the Philippines,
proponents of GMO are advocating genetically engineered crops as a
solution to overpopulation.

But anti-GMO groups said the result of a 1998 experiment conducted by
German scientists showed the foreign viruses taken in by humans in
genetically altered crops were not completely broken down in the process
of digestion.