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GMO-FREE REGIONS & POLICY: Pangasugan (Philippines) community council opposes Bt eggplant field trials



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   BT EGGPLANT TESTING HITS NEW SNAG IN VISAYAS FIELD TRIAL

SOURCE:  Business World, Philippines

AUTHOR:  Reyan L. Arinto

URL:     http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?title=Bt%20eggplant%20testing%20hits%20new%20snag%20in%20Visayas%20field%20trial&id=26571

DATE:    17.02.2011

SUMMARY: "Officials of Barangay Pangasugan in Leyte province have passed a resolution opposing the field trial of genetically modified eggplant at the Visayas State University. Pangasugan is the latest host community to oppose the experiment, next to Barangay Bago Oshiro in Davao City and Sta. Barbara town in Iloilo. In its resolution, the barangay council noted that it has yet to receive data on ?pollen flow,? which may contaminate surrounding plants in the area due to cross-pollination and may pose health risks."

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BT EGGPLANT TESTING HITS NEW SNAG IN VISAYAS FIELD TRIAL

TACLOBAN CITY -- Officials of Barangay Pangasugan in Leyte province have passed a resolution opposing the field trial of genetically modified eggplant at the Visayas State University (VSU).

Pangasugan is the latest host community to oppose the experiment, next to Barangay Bago Oshiro in Davao City and Sta. Barbara town in Iloilo.

In its resolution, the barangay council noted that it has yet to receive data on ?pollen flow,? which may contaminate surrounding plants in the area due to cross-pollination and may pose health risks.

?It also stated that no public consultation was made, especially among the farmers of the barangay,? said Alfie M. Palumbarit, advocacy officer of farmer-scientist network Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-Unlad ng Agrikultura (Masipag).

Field trial for Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) eggplant, genetically modified to produce toxins to combat the fruit and shoot borer, has yet to start at the VSU in Pangasugan, Baybay, Leyte.

The Bureau of Plant Industry has suspended the permit for VSU along with that of the University of the Philippines in Mindanao in Bago Oshiro, Davao City.

The suspension, carried out in the last week of 2010, followed the controversial uprooting of genetically modified plants in UP Mindanao on orders of Davao City Mayor Sarah Z. Duterte.

The proponents had failed to post at the Davao city hall and Baybay municipal hall a public information sheet to inform and solicit comments from the community about the experiment.

In Pangasugan, Mr. Palumbarit said copies of the barangay resolution will be forwarded to the offices of the VSU president, mayor and vice-mayor of Baybay and the governor of Leyte.

The Pangasugan council also passed two other resolutions requesting the offices of Rosario Salas, project leader of the open field trials of Bt eggplant in VSU, and Desiree Hautea, head of the project proponent Institute of Plant Breeding of UP Los Baños (UPLB) in Laguna province, to provide a copy of the memorandum of understanding between VSU and UPLB about the project.

It also requested details of all research activities and biosafety measures to be undertaken related to the Bt eggplant project.

Chito P. Medina, national coordinator of Masipag, said the barangay officials were only trying to protect their constituents.

?We commend the officials of Barangay Pangasugan for making the right decision in order to promote the general welfare of their constituents,? he said in a press statement.

?In effect, the farmers of Visayas region are objecting to the planting of Bt eggplant as the municipality of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo has also objected the planned field trial in their area,? Mr. Medina further said.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   FARMER-SCIENTIST GROUP HAIL SB FOR ADOPTING RESOLUTION SUSPENDING ENTRY OF GMO TALONG

SOURCE:  Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura, Philippines (MASIPAG)

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://masipag.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=102&Itemid=2

DATE:    20.02.2011

SUMMARY: "Laguna based farmer-scientist group MASIPAG hailed the adoption of the resolution by the municipal council of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo in suspending the impending field trial of Bt Talong in their town. ?We are pleased that the municipal council has heeded the call of the farmers to suspend the Bt talong planting. Davao also expressed its stand by stopping the entry of Bt talong in UP Mindanao. We believe that all of the other municipalities will do the same, as all of us have learned on the experiences brought by GMOs, in particular Bt Corn by Monsanto? said Dr. Chito Medina"

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FARMER-SCIENTIST GROUP HAIL SB FOR ADOPTING RESOLUTION SUSPENDING ENTRY OF GMO TALONG

Los Banos, Laguna ? Laguna based farmer-scientist group MASIPAG hailed the adoption of the resolution by the municipal council of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo in suspending the impending field trial of Bt Talong in their town. ?We are pleased that the municipal council has heeded the call of the farmers to suspend the Bt talong planting. Davao also expressed its stand by stopping the entry of Bt talong in UP Mindanao. We believe that all of the other municipalities will do the same, as all of us have learned on the experiences brought by GMOs, in particular Bt Corn by Monsanto? said Dr. Chito Medina, National Coordinator of the Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG).

Bt talong is a type of GMO or genetically modified organism wherein the trait of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) a soil bacteria, was artificially

inserted to the eggplant thru genetic manipulation. The result is an eggplant that exudes the Bt toxin to kill fruit-and-shoot borer. GMOs, however poses many problems such as health hazards, environmental contamination and seed monopoly thru patents. Bt talong has already been tested on open fields on three sites (Camarines Sur, Pangasinan and Laguna) for the dry season. Sites in barangays Tungay and Lanag of Sta Barbara and six other sites will also be planted with Bt talong to test its efficacy during the wet season which will start this month.

Last October 17, the city of Davao has also expressed its stand against the entry of Bt talong at UP Mindanao, as it will contradict on the city?s code on sustainable agriculture. Mayor Sara Duterte has also sent a letter to UP Mindanao chancellor Dr Gilda Rivero asking her to stop the multi-location testing.

MASIPAG has been closely monitoring the trial sites and is now working with the LGUs to inform them of the possible negative impacts that Bt talong may pose. ?We have been conducting series of consultations and dialogues with farmers and local officials on the effects Bt talong may bring in Iloilo. Most of them actually were not consulted or did not even know that multi-location trials will be conducted in their area, such as what happened in municipality of Pili, Camarines Sur. We believe that the proponents are consciously doing this to prevent farmers from participating in public consultations? said Georita Pitong, Masipag regional coordinator for Visayas.

The Sta Barbara municipal resolution adopted last October 6, also stated that no comprehensive risk assessments were done on possible health risks and environmental contamination that Bt talong may bring. It also cited that pollen from the Bt talong may transfer to native talong thus may cause serious threat to human health if it would be sold to the local market. Copies of the resolution will then be sent to the Secretary of DA, DTI and DENR for their information and appropriate action.

?This is clearly a manifestation that the people do not need GMOs. There are many options to control the fruit-and-shoot borer which is safer and less expensive. Bt talong is just a ploy to further commercialize agriculture and take away the rights of the farmers to seed sharing and appropriate, safe technologies. It is puzzling why the proponents has been focusing on Bt talong, whereas in India a moratorium on the commercialization was passed by the Minister of Environment of Forestry and Environment as they are also cautious on the damages that Bt brinjal (Indian term for eggplant) may cause? Pitong added.

Medina also cited the recently passed Organic Agriculture Law. ?GMOs would take away the rights of organic and sustainable agriculture practitioners as the incidence of cross pollination is high, as compared to the claims of the Bt talong proponents. In the end, it will be the consumers and the eggplant industry itself who will suffer from this? he said.