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3-Food: Greenpeace warns versus GMO-contaminated food in the Philippines

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TITLE:  Greenpeace warns vs GMO-contaminated food
SOURCE: MindaNews, Philippines, by Allen V. Estabillo
DATE:   15 Mar 2006

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Greenpeace warns vs GMO-contaminated food

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Potentially unsafe substances from genetically-
modified organisms have allegedly contaminated some common food products
sold in the country, including baby food, the environmental group
Greenpeace claimed.

Daniel Ocampo, genetic engineering campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast
Asia, said the Philippines is one of 39 countries in the world affected
by contamination from GMOs based on the "GM Contamination Report 2005" of
Greenpeace and GeneWatch UK.

The report, which focused on the extent to which GMOs have leaked into
the environment, showed widespread global contamination, illegal planting
and cases of negative agricultural side effects supposedly caused by
genetically-engineered products.

Ocampo said the contamination case specifically cited for the Philippines
was the presence of GMOs in common food products, including baby food.

"The Philippine's inclusion in the list is not surprising considering the
country's failure to ratify the Biosafety protocol which establishes the
minimum international safety standards for GMO crops and their trade," he
said in a statement e-mailed to MindaNews.

Eliezer Billanes, convenor of the Socsksargen Movement against GMOs,
expressed alarm over the reported GMO contamination in local food
products, stressing it places consumers at risk.

He reiterated the need for the government to impose a mandatory labeling
of consumer products to make consumers aware of products that contain
GMOs and those that don't.

"The issue here is that the safety of GMOs to human health and the
environment remains a big question. So until this issue is not yet
properly resolved, it's only proper for our government to control the
distribution of these questionable products if it cannot totally ban
them," Billanes said.

Billanes said his group has been continually educating the public against
the perils posed by GMO products.

He showed a pamphlet containing a list of products supposedly containing
GMOs and a call for their boycott.

The list covers at least 47 processed products that include milk, noodles
and hot dogs containing genetically-engineered corn and soya.

The Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel had launched a campaign
to boycott products containing GMOs by hanging a streamer listing the
questionable goods in front of local parishes

The Greenpace report cited at least 113 cases of GMO contamination
worldwide involving 39 countries, which is twice the number of countries
that have grown genetically-engineered crops since they were first
commercialized in 1996.

The report said the frequency of these cases is increasing, with 11
countries affected in 2005 alone. Contamination has even been found in
countries conducting supposedly carefully controlled high-profile farm-
scale evaluations such as the Uk," it added.

In the Philippines, Ocampo expressed alarm over the government's
continuing adoption of various biotechnology products, which started with
the commercialization of Monsanto's Bacillus Thuringiensis or Bt corn.

He stressed that the government has no clear stand on liability and
redress for the uncontrolled spread of GMOs, and has not established
clear-cut monitoring mechanisms and safety nets to ensure the protection
of conventional corn varieties from GMO contamination.

But agricultural biotechnology proponents insisted that GMOs are in fact
safe and there's no need to label them.

Dr. Benigno Peczon, president of the government-backed Biotechnology
Coalition of the Philippines, said conclusive studies made by scientists
and medical experts worldwide have substantially affirmed the safety of
the GM products.

He said there has no validated cases of health hazards that could be
directly attributed to consumption of products containing GMOs such as
wheat-based infant food, beverages, canola oil and potato chips -
products currently sold in the local markets.

European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
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