We would like to take this opportunity to respond to the article “Greenpeace Crushes Filipino farmers’ hopes” by Atty. Dodo Dulay which appeared on your paper on July 22, 2013. The claim that Greenpeace opposes genetically modified (GM) crops because we are advocates for European companies is laughable. To ensure our financial independence from political or commercial interests, Greenpeace does not accept money from either companies or governments. Our independence gives us the authority we need to effectively tackle power, and make real change happen.
Please allow me to explain a bit about our organization. Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organization, present in 40 countries worldwide. Greenpeace Philippines forms part of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, which has three offices in the region: Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. The Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia is Von Hernandez, a noted Filipino environmentalist and formerly a member of the academe. Our staff, supporters and volunteers are drawn from all walks of Filipino life and from across the length and breadth of our country.
Unlike the giant commercial corporations behind these mendacious smears against us, Greenpeace Philippines has a long track record of fighting for the rights of ordinary Filipinos and their rights to clean air, water, food and a healthy environment.
We have worked alongside many notable civil society organisations to ensure that our citizens are protected, and to ensure the passage of landmark environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act of 1999, the Ecological Waste Management Act of 2000, and the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.
Greenpeace’s global position on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is that such organisms should not be released without adequate scientific understanding of their impact on the environment and human health.
This “genetic pollution” is a major threat because genetically engineered organisms cannot be recalled once released into the environment. The power of massive multinational companies—some of which have more money than our governments—is being used to deny the public the right to information about genetically engineered ingredients in the food chain, and their right to choose to avoid them.
GM crops are only grown in four countries—US, Argentina, Brazil and Canada – while others have banned them outright or allowed them only within very strict regulations. Given that Atty. Dulay claims to be an expert on Europe, perhaps he can explain why he is so keen on GMOs for the Philippines, when they are not grown in the European Union? And if they are not fit for consumption by Europeans, why should they be forced on Filipinos?
What the proponents of GM don’t want our people to know is that they own the patents to genetically modified seeds, and that many of these are “terminator seeds” which cannot be replanted. Instead poor farmers are forced to buy fresh seeds every year, and create an endless stream of cash for the multinationals’ coffers.
There is no proof that farmers are benefitting or will benefit from Bt eggplant. The multinational companies who hold the patents to these genes will have total control over how the genes are used and are inserted in new varieties. In the US, farmers whose crops are accidentally contaminated by GM—such as when contaminated seeds are spread by wind—are prosecuted by Monsanto for failing to pay royalties for “using” their patented technology.
There is also no substantial evidence that GM crops yield more than conventional crops; in fact several scientific studies have proven that the opposite is true1 .
What GM crops definitely do lead to is higher pesticide use2 , which is harmful both to humans and the plane. Is this the future Atty. Dulay is planning for Filipino farmers?
We believe food is a basic right of life, and find it offensive that a commercial concern should seek to patent plants, animals and humans. Life is not an industrial commodity. Biological diversity must be protected and respected as the global heritage of humankind, and one of our world’s fundamental keys to survival.
It is worth noting that most of these GM crops are developed by Monsanto which owns around 80% of the GM crops grown worldwide. Monsanto is also part owner of the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (MAHYCO) which owns the patents to the Bt eggplant.
The only benefits of Bt eggplant will not flow to Filipino farmers, but to the already bloated bank accounts of these massive multinationals.
We have consistently called on the Philippine government to develop ecological agriculture – a demand mirrored by the United Nations International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD).
We will not allow poor Filipino farmers to be used as a stalking horse or as a justification to turn the environment into a genetic experiment.
Daniel M. Ocampo
Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner
Greenpeace Southeast Asia