GENET archive


REGULATION: Indonesia says to use GMO to boost food output

                                  PART 1

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SOURCE: Reuters



DATE:   18.07.2007

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JAKARTA - Indonesia plans to use genetically modified crops to boost food staples such as rice, soybean and corn once a draft law is passed, an agriculture official said on Tuesday.

GM technology using genes to modify crops in order to yield more output has previously faced resistance in the country in case of health or biodiversity risks.

”The draft for biotechnology projects including funding, reassessment, impacts on environment and crops is ready. The other laws are also ready to support it,” Eri Sofari, a biotechnology expert at the agriculture ministry, told a seminar.

The official said a biodiversity security committee needed to be formed before the technology could be used.

Sofari said the GM crop-seeds would be imported from the United States and European based companies but research and seed reproduction would be conducted in Indonesia.

The official said GM crops were needed to avoid food shortages and dependence on imports.

Indonesia is one of Southeast Asia’s largest importers of rice, as output is often insufficient to meet demand from its 220 million people.

In 2001, Indonesia planned to cultivate 20,000 hectares (49,400 acres) of GM cotton in South Sulawesi sponsored by US biotechnology giant Monsanto Co.

But the programme was stopped after meeting strong protests from non-governmental organisations.

                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: The Jakarta Post, Indonesia



DATE:   22.06.2007

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Experts and activists have called for the government to implement existing regulations on labeling genetically modified (GM) food.

”The consumers’ position is very weak because transgenic food can enter this country without safety testing and with no labels attached,” Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) researcher Ilyani Sudardjat told a workshop on applying precautionary principles to genetically modified foods in Jakarta on Thursday.

Indonesia has had several regulations on the issue of GM or transgenic foods for more than 10 years.

In 1996, the government enacted the Law on Food in which article 13 stipulates all genetically engineered food products must be screened for health safety before being sold to the public.

Ilyani said 70 percent of the soy beans consumed in Indonesia annually, or 2.1 million tons, were imported.

A 2004 report from the United States Department of Agriculture said the U.S. export value for transgenic products, including cotton, soy beans and corn reached US$600 million.

”We are concerned those products are entering Indonesia with no transgenic food safety procedures at all,” Ilyani said.

In 1999, the government issued a regulation on food labeling and advertising, in which article 35 obliges all transgenic food products to be labeled with words and logos.

”Still today the regulations have not yet been implemented,” Ilyani said.

”The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) keeps saying they are still making the operational manuals.

”Those procedures are a basic right for consumers -- as stated in the 1999 Law on Consumer Protection.

”Labeling is urgent because consumers cannot differentiate between transgenic and non-transgenic products with the naked eye.”

Giorgio Budi Indrarto from the policy legal reform division of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law said another government regulation on the biosafety of transgenic products was issued last year.

”But it concerns the licensing aspect of transgenic products more than the safety,” Giorgio said.

Up to 95 percent of transgenic soy bean harvests in the U.S. are designated for consumption by cattle.

A 1990s research study by the Food and Drug Administration of the U.S. showed experimental rats fed with transgenic tomatoes developed gastrointestinal ulcers.

Also in attendance was Hira Jhamtani, an associate of the Third World Network, an international NGO involved in the progression and environment of developing countries, as well as North-South matters.

She said, ”It was also proven through research in the U.S. that milk cows injected with genetically modified organisms also tended to develop more udder infections”.

”The unavailability of scientific evidence on the negative effects of transgenic products on humans is because there has not been any research done independently.

”Any time experiments are conducted, for example by feeding cattle a certain kind of transgenic food, the research is always halted mid-way.

”If the product is truly safe, then why should companies oppose the labeling or other regulations?

”The domination of the seed and agribusiness industries stands behind the issue of transgenic products,” Hira said.

Three of the largest agricultural companies in the world dominate two thirds of the pesticide market, one quarter of the seed market, and nearly 100 percent of the market for transgenic seeds, she said.

It is reported between 1996 and 2004 the global commercial value of genetically engineered plants reached $24 billion.



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