Various stakeholders on Tuesday called on the government to protect the country’s diverse rice varieties threatened by Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), particularly GM ‘Golden’ Rice, which has been field-tested and is set to be approved for commercialization.
Composed of farmers, organic rice consumers and traders, mothers and environmentalists, they trooped to the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) in Manila where they expressed in an “Opposition” their objection to any extension, renewal or issuance of a new biosafety permit for further field testing, feeding trial and commercialization of GM ‘Golden’ Rice.
The stakeholders unfurled a stunning 3-dimensional artwork depicting the Ifugao Rice Terraces outside the BPI complex, challenging the government to walk the talk and “Be RICEponsible,” this year’s theme for National Rice Awareness month.
Simultaneously, at the opening of the 11th National Organic Agriculture Congress (NOAC) in Davao City, local groups submitted a petition bearing the signatures of thousands of individuals from all over the country to Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.
The submission of the petition was coupled with a demonstration inside the organic agriculture congress where different groups displayed placards with the message “Protect Our Rice. No to Golden Rice.”
“Today’s activities in various parts of the country speak about the strong community resistance against GMOs, such as ‘Golden’ Rice. We do not want GMOs as we are well aware of the negative impacts [they]will bring to the environment and to our livelihood,” said Josing Demit-Manandil of the Mindanao Tri-people Women Resource Center (MTWRC). “With all [its]talk on rice self-sufficiency and productive climate-resilient farming, the government itself is not doing [its]part. So we are turning the tables on Secretary Alcala to be transparent and show concrete action against GM ‘Golden’ Rice,” Demit added.