THE appellate court, in a landmark decision on preserving a healthful ecology has granted a petition filed by environmental groups which sought to permanently put to a stop to nationwide field trials of genetically modified eggplants—popularly known as Bacillus thuringiensis (bt) talong—being conducted by a collaboration among the University of the Philippines in Los Baños and various government and private agencies.
In a 25-page decision of the CA 13th division, penned by Associate Justice Isaias Dicdican, it ordered the permanent stoppage of production of the experiment.
“It is clear that there is no full scientific certainty yet as to the effects of the bt talong field trials to the environment and the health of the people,” it avers
“Consequently, the field trials of bt talong could not be declared by this Court as safe to human health and to our ecology, with full scientific certainty, being an alteration of an otherwise natural state of affairs in our ecology.”
Appellate Associate Justices Myra Garcia-Fernandez and Nina Antonio-Valenzueala concurred in the decision.
It opined that even the bevy of local and foreign experts presented by proponents of the purportedly pest-resistant eggplants are all agreed that aside from the fact that there are no laws regulating the field testing of genetically-modified plants, their safety cannot fully be guaranteed.
“This is where the precautionary principle sets in which states that, when human activities may led to threats of serious and irreversible damage to the environment that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish the threat.”
Leading the group of petitioners are Greenpeace and Masipag – the latter an organization of farmers and scientists for sustainable agriculture—earlier brought the suit in April 26 last year before the Supreme Court under the High Court’s new environmental protection procedures. The petitioners were represented in the suit by lawyers from the Roque and Butuyan Law Offices, led by Prof. Harry Roque Jr. and Roger Rayel.
Among the respondents were the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture and UP Los Baños Foundation Inc.