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[genet-news] GMO-FREE REGIONS & REGULATION: Negros (Philippines) firm agrees to ship out banned corn

                                  PART 1

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SOURCE: Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippines

AUTHOR: Carla Gomez


DATE:   08.04.2009

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BACOLOD CITY, Philippines--Bounty Agro Ventures, the consignee of a shipment of genetically modified corn, has agreed to ship the commodity of Negros Occidental where genetically modified agricultural crops were banned, Gov. Isidro Zayco said on Tuesday.

However, National Federation of Hog Farmers president Albert Lim warned that Negros Occidental would face a shortage in corn for processing into animal feeds if the seized corn is shipped out.

The provincial government seized on Saturday the whole yellow corn shipment, worth P18.978 million, found to be genetically modified and held at the consignee?s warehouse at the Bacolod Real Estate Development Corp. (Bredco) port in Bacolod City.

Zayco said Dante Samonte, Bounty Agro Ventures feed milling operations chief for Visayas and Mindanao who represented the company in a dialogue with provincial officials, agreed to ship out the 15,746 bags of corn to comply with a ban on the entry of GM plants and animals into Negros Occidental.

?I think they agree that the corn they shipped in has GMO because they were the ones who offered to ship it out,? Zayco said.

Samonte, who maintained that the company did not know that the corn shipment was genetically modified, said they would ship the corn out on Monday.

He explained that Negros has a corn shortage so Bounty Agro Ventures had to get corn to feed the company?s chicken broilers raised by contract growers from different sources.

Samonte said the company would not bring in GM corn again.

On the other hand, Lim said Bounty Agro Ventures would have difficulty replacing the GM corn it is shipping out.

Lim said he learned from the company?s owners that they would slowly pull out their operations from the province if they could not obtain adequate supplies of corn for their chicken broilers.

If this occurred, Lim warned that the province could face a shortage of poultry.

?We want the (banned) corn to stay but the governor said there is a law and we have to follow the law. How sure can we be that processed feeds coming into the province do not use GM corn?? Lim pointed out, adding that GM corn was safe for consumption for both humans and animals.

Zayco said that while the Bounty Agro Ventures corn could be used for feeds, the law must be enforced or he could be charged with dereliction of duty.

He urged Lim to submit a position paper on the safety of using GMO corn so this could be discussed with those who opposed GMO products.

Provincial agriculturist Igmedio Tabianan, however, cited a paper written by Dr. Chito Medina, national coordinator of the Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura, that bared growing evidence of health effects caused by genetically modified products, and of destruction to the environment and crop contamination.

Laboratory experiments on rats fed with BT corn showed increased white blood cells, reduced levels of immature blood cells, high blood sugar and inflammation of kidneys, Medina said in his paper titled ?Genetically Modified Organisms: Risks, Implications and Alternatives.?

                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: ABS-CBN News, Philippines

AUTHOR: Barbara Mijares


DATE:   08.04.2009

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Negros Occidental authorities on Tuesday temporarily seized 15.746 bags of corn believed to have been genetically modified, a variety which is banned in the province.

The corn shipment, worth P18 million, reportedly came from Bounty Fresh Foods in La Union and was consigned to Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. in Negros.

After the corn was seized, representatives from Bounty Agro Ventures, local officials of Negros Occidental, and the National Federation of Hog Farmers agreed to have the corn shipped out of the province.

Albert Lim, president of the National Federation of Hog Farmers, however, insisted that corn supply is dwindling, especially for chicken feed. He also said they have not encountered any negative effects of GMO crops on livestock and poultry.

Negros Occidental Governor Isidro Zayco, meanwhile, said that even if corn is badly needed, he cannot violate the Provincial Ordinance No. 7, issued in 2007, banning the entry of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in the province due possible harmful effects. Zayco also told Lim to send the provincial government a position paper on the GMO issue since they are open to suggestions.

International environmental groups from Greenpeace have criticized illegal GMO contaminations in shipments of crops around the world like rice, corn, and vegetables since it allegedly poses risks to biodiversity and human health; and are not sustainable for agriculture. The group said that since the Philippines is a signatory to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the country should adopt ?precautionary principle by not importing GMO products.?



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