GENET archive


POLICY & REGULATION: Philippine bishop warns v. consumption of genetically enhanced rice

                                  PART 1

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SOURCE: Sun Star, Philippines



DATE:   16.08.2007

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MANILA Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales has asked the government to recall and stop the selling of genetically-enhanced rice products from the US that pose health risks to humans and to the environment.

Rosales, in a letter sent to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last February 9, asked Arroyo to take back from the supermarkets the Uncle Sam Texas Long Grain Rice, which is being distributed by Purefeeds Inc.

”We believe that we should strongly oppose any experiment or attempt to use genetically engineered foods that are not safe or good to the environment. We should feed our people with food that are produced through natural means,” Rosales said.

The cardinal endorsed the petition of the ecology desk of the Archdiocese of Manila and signed by 2,000 people who raised several issues on the entry and sale of genetically-made products in the Philippines.

Aside from the withdrawal of the products, the cardinal also demanded that a moratorium be imposed on the importation of genetically-modified rice from the US; require the agriculture department to do mandatory testing of imported rice and urgently stop the propagation of genetically-enhanced food products; and certify as an urgent bill the mandatory labeling of all imported, processed food products.

”As a church institution, we have a moral obligation to protect the interest of God’s people and their inherent right to safe food and healthy environment. Independent and environmentally-concerned local and international scientists already warned that genetically-modified crops and food products could be very harmful to the environment and to human beings,” said the cardinal who was recently named as one of Pope Benedict XVI’s economic advisers.

                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippines

AUTHOR: Alexander Villafania


DATE:   23.08.2007

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MANILA, Philippines -- The environmental group Greenpeace and the Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (Searice) filed Thursday a petition for injunction with the Quezon City trial court against the use of genetically-modified rice that is pending approval by the government.

The petition questions the constitutionality of for the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Administrative Order 8, series of 2002, which sets the guidelines for the approval and use of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).

Greenpeace and Searice are also seeking a temporary restraining order against the approval by the DA and Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) of the GMO rice called Bayer LL62 for commercial use.

The petition cited several concerns regarding the use of LL62, particularly the absence of public consultations as required by the Philippine Constitution, particularly Article 3, Section 7, which recognizes people’s rights in matters of public concern.

The groups questioned the timing of Bayer’s application for LL62 in August 2006, which was the height of the controversy in the US over the contamination of rice crops there with Bayer’s LL601 GMO rice.

Greenpeace, in particular, said it requested for official information about Bayer’s application but said both the DA and BPI have yet to answer.

Both Greenpeace and Searice say approval of LL62 will make the Philippines the first country in the world to approve a genetically-altered food crop.

Greenpeace genetic engineering campaigner Danny Ocampo described the system for GMO approval in the country as ”hopelessly flawed” because it excludes public representation in such matters.

”How much do Filipinos know about this, and what voice do they have in such a process? Very little. And yet, for the whole country, the impending approval of this genetically altered rice will certainly be an alarming precedent that will irrevocably alter the future of our most important staple food,” Ocampo said.

Ocampo also told that the BPI has not rejected any of the 44 applications for GMOs, in particular four applications for the propagation in the Philippines pf GMOs -- BT11, Bt corn, roundup-ready and a strain that is a combination of Bt corn and roundup-ready.

He also said the petition would push a review of the approval process for GMO plants in the country.

                                  PART 3

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SOURCE: The Manila Times, Philippines

AUTHOR: Opinion, by Dan Mariano


DATE:   27.08.2007

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For years Greenpeace has been alerting the public to the health hazards—actual and potential—posed by genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Along with other groups, Greenpeace has achieved a measure of success in many Western countries, whose governments now strictly regulate genetically modified products. In the Philippines, however, environmental groups have found that it is the authorities tasked with safeguarding public health who are helping foist GMOs on clueless Filipinos.

Last week the environmental group—better known for staging bold protest actions—took an uncharacteristic step. Along with the Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (Searice) and other petitioners, Green­peace went to court.

Asserting that the process for approving GMOs is unconstitutional and ”hopelessly flawed,” Greenpeace and Searice challenged last Thursday the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) by filing an injunction petition against a genetically-modified rice strain pending approval in the Philippines.


Unconstitutional order

The petition questions the constitutionality of DA’s Administrative Order No. 8 (series of 2002), the guidelines for the approval of GMOs. It also seeks a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent DA and BPI from taking any further action on the application for approval of the genetically-modified rice Bayer LL62 for use in food, feed and processing.

”The system for GMO approvals in the country is hopelessly flawed. It completely brushes aside the public voice in what should be a grave issue of public concern,” said Green­peace genetic engineering campaigner Danny Ocampo in a media briefing.

”Right now the DA and the BPI are in the process of approving what could be the first genetically manipulated rice for public consumption in the country,” he said.

”How much do Filipinos know about this and what voice do they have in such a process? Very little,” Ocampo added. ”And yet, for the whole country, the impending approval of this genetically altered rice will certainly be an alarming precedent that will irrevocably alter the future of our most important staple food.”

Greenpeace questions the lack of public consultation on GMO approvals, particularly in the case of Bayer LL62’s application. Among others, its petition points out that the ”public consultation” requirements under DA AO 8 are grossly insufficient and violate the minimum standards set by the 1987 Constitution in recognizing the right of the people to matters of public concern under Article III, Section 7.

The petition also states that—unless restrained by the court—with the mere publication of Bayer’s Public Information Sheet (PIS) on the GMO rice LL62 as the sole requirement under AO 8 to indicate the conduct of public consultation, there is no ”legal” obstacle that would prevent DA and BPI from approving GMO rice Bayer LL62 for direct use in feed, food and processing.

The genetically-modified Bayer LL62 is a patented strain of rice whose DNA has been injected with genetic material from an entirely different organism to resist glufosinate, a powerful weed killer also produced by Bayer, which is meant to be used in conjunction with the crop.


No substantial disclosure

Bayer filed an application with BPI on August 26, 2006 for the approval of the GMO rice in the Philippines. Greenpeace has repeatedly requested BPI for official information regarding the application. The DA and BPI, however, have remained quiet, stating only that it is under review and that Bayer has ”complied” with the requirement to submit a PIS under AO 8.

To date, there has been no substantial disclosure by BPI or the DA regarding the application and the actual status of the application, according to Greenpeace.

If approved, Bayer LL62 will be the first genetically-modified rice in the Philippines, which will also become the first country in the world to approve a genetically altered strain of its most important staple food crop.

Bayer filed the application at the height of the biggest genetic contamination case concerning the US rice supply. Non-GMO US long grain rice crops were found to have been tainted with Bayer’s LL601, a GMO similar to LL62.

Shipments of tainted US long grain rice were subsequently rejected by markets around the world, plunging the US rice industry into a crisis. Genetically altered rice is not approved in most parts of the world because of concerns about health and environmental risks.

”GMOs have never been proven safe for human consumption and poses grave risks to the environment as they can contaminate GMO-free crops and ecosystems,” said Searice policy officer Corazon De Jesus.

According to Greenpeace, genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodi­versity and poses unacceptable risks to health.

                                  PART 4

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SOURCE: The Visayan Daily Star, Philippines



DATE:   24.08.2007

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The Provincial Government of Negros Occidental, in coordination with the Negros Island Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Foundation, will discuss the ordinance banning the entry of genetically modified organism in a forum on August 28 at 8 a.m. , at the Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City.

The forum seeks to strengthen partnership and advocacy in the promotion of sustainable agriculture, clean environment and healthy lifestyle in the province, the Office of the Provincial Agriculture said.

Provincial Ordinance No. 07-2007, or ”The Safeguard Against Living Genetically-Modified Organisms,” was passed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in April this year. NISARD executive director Patrick Belisario said the ordinance will help bring Negros Island a step closer to its goal of becoming the organic food bowl of Asia.

The ordinance is aimed at instituting stringent measures for the protection of biodiversity and attainment of the status of Negros as an Organic Food Island in Asia, by banning the entry, importation and introduction of genetically-modified plants and animals in the province.

Persons violating the ban on GMOs in Negros Occidental will be fined not more than P5,000 or face imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both, at the discretion of the court for each and every defined violation, the ordinance states, and if the violator is a corporation organization, the heads of the groups will be held liable.

All Living Modified Organisms brought into Negros Occidental will be seized and destroyed at the expense of the violator, it also says. The ordinance defines LMO as any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology. It also prohibits the planting, growing, selling and trading of living GMOs in Negros Occidental.



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