• Govt order on GMOs seen killing farmers

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    THE left-leaning Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Wednesday criticized the Aquino administration for rushing new rules pertaining to genetically modified organism imports in response to the December 2015 ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) on the BT eggplant that also temporarily stopped the government from accepting applications for field testing, propagating and importing GMOs.

    The SC decision effectively nullified Administrative Order No. 8 series of 2002 or the “Rules and Regulation for the Importation and Release into the Environment of Plant and Plant Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology.”

    But last week, the National Committee for Biosafety of the Philippines started a series of meetings for the drafting of a new joint department circular under the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health and Department of Interior and Local Government for the “Rules and Regulation for the Research and Development, Handling and Use, Transboundary Movement, Release into the Environment and Management of Plant and Plant Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology.”

    The government targets the new circular to be signed on February 16 as import permits of animal feeds and other GM products are set to expire.

    “While the landmark Supreme Court decision on the BT eggplant [is]yet to be implemented and enjoyed by farmers, local producers and consumers, the government is railroading a new ‘super circular’ in the interest of multinational GM companies and importers and traders of GM products,” Rafael Mariano, KMP chairman, said.

    He added that farmers and local producers, the largest sector that will be primarily affected by this new ‘super AO,’ were not at all informed or consulted by the agencies who led the meetings.

    “This super AO will deliver a ‘killing blow’ to the ailing domestic agriculture,” Mariano said.

    “With regard to the implementation of the SC decision, what will happen to farmers severely affected by GM field testings and trials, what will happen to agricultural farms and the immediate environment exposed to GMOs and accompanying chemicals and inputs? What will be the liability and redress for agrochem and GM companies for the negative impacts brought by GMOs?” the peasant leader asked.

    Instead of rushing a new circular, the government should instead address these issues, Mariano said.

    “The scientific community has issued harsh reactions to the SC ruling, but did not address the ‘uncertainties and the possibilities of irreversible and serious harm’ posed by GM crops and products referred by the SC decision” he noted.

    “Maybe scientific studies have prospered for the interest of foreign companies like Monsanto and Syngenta but farmers remained poor, in debt and landless,” Mariano said.

    “Based on our thorough social investigation, the commercial propagation of BT corn in the country more than a decade ago caused irreparable socio-economic damages to millions of corn farmers as well as negative impacts on consumer health and the environment,” the peasant leader also noted.

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