The Amsterdam-based pressure group Greenpeace has mobilized a new set of local fronts in its battle against the Philippine science community. Our readers will recall that Greenpeace and Filipino scientists led by Dr. Emil Javier and his fellow researchers from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) are locked in a protracted war over the use of modern biotechnology in agriculture.
Dr. Javier and his associates are introducing our farmers to the world of pest-resistant, insecticide-free crop varieties through biotechnology. Greenpeace has blocked this effort for more than a decade now. It used propaganda tactics to scare our farmers and prevent them from using this crop variety. Later, they resorted to destroying trial farms planted with biotech crops.
The latest tactic used by Greenpeace to stop our scientists was to get the Court of Appeals (CA) to issue a “writ of kalikasan.” The writ effectively stopped scientific research dead on its tracks, thereby depriving our farmers the opportunity of seeing the benefits of biotech crops first hand.
The science community, joined by several government agencies, appealed the case to the Supreme Court (SC). In a joint motion, they asked the High Court to quash the writ so that field trials for a biotech eggplant variety called “Bt Talong” can continue.
The public’s eyes are now focused on this controversy before the SC, especially after farmers from various provinces filed a plea to intervene in the case. Apparently, the farmers – who are the ultimate beneficiaries of this biotech crop – want the SC to also hear what they have to say on the matter.
In what is perceived to be a brilliant legal move, Greenpeace has, so far, reportedly held off from opposing the move by the farmers. In so doing, they have spared the SC from having to rule against Filipino farmers – and avoided possible embarrassment should the SC allow the farmers to intervene.
What Greenpeace did instead was to mobilize a new set of local fronts to join them in opposing the motion filed by our science community. This is apparently designed to create the impression that this is a battle which pits Filipinos against fellow Filipinos – rather than the insidious machinations of a well-funded European pressure group that’s out to crush the work of our Filipino scientists.
It appears that among the groups tapped by Greenpeace to serve as its mouthpiece are traders and entrepreneurs engaged in the sales and distribution of so-called “organic food.” The business group’s spokesperson, based on media reports, is a certain Mara Pardo de Tavera who is reportedly the moving spirit behind the weekend organic food market in Salcedo and Legazpi Villages in Makati.
Pardo de Tavera seems to be a prominent figure in the health and wellness circles of Makati and Alabang Villages. This must be the reason why she was able to rally a “group of protesters” who railed against our UP-Los Baños-based scientists. The event – held in one of her weekend markets – appears to have been well covered by media.
In the said “protest rally,” Pardo de Tavera reportedly said she had joined Greenpeace in a petition “asking the High Court to intervene to stop the field testing of Bt Talong.” It seems, however, that she may have been misled by her powerful and well-heeled European principal.
First, the European pressure group is not asking the SC to stop our Filipino scientists from conducting field trials. There are no field trials going on right now since our scientists have already been stopped by the CA from conducting such trials via a writ of kalikasan.
Second, it is not Pardo de Tavera’s European principal who is asking the SC for legal relief. It’s the other way around. It’s our Filipino scientists and farmers who are seeking legal relief, that is, for the High Court to lift the “stop order” issued by the CA.
By agreeing to be Greenpeace’s local front in this legal battle, Pardo de Tavera is spearheading the proxy war being waged by the influential foreign lobby group against her very own countrymen. Perhaps she should have demanded a more transparent legal briefing before agreeing to become the talking head of Greenpeace against the latter’s much-hated Filipino adversaries.
If Pardo de Tavera had indeed been misled by Greenpeace regarding the legal issue now before the SC, putting her on the spot is truly lamentable.
Pardo de Tavera is a highly respected personality in Makati and Alabang’s elite circles. She is considered by affluent health enthusiasts and fellow businessmen in the organic business as the “Mother of Philippine Organic Market.”
She has an important reputation among rich customers that she must protect. In its haste to mobilize Pardo de Tavera against the UP Los Baños community, Greenpeace may have compromised that reputation and credibility.
And that is grossly unfair to her.