KMP reiterates stand vs GM tech and crops
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) strongly disapproves of the process and content of the new joint department circular (JDC) on the “Rules and Regulations for the Use, Research and Development, Handling, Transboundary Movement and Release into the Environment of the Plant and Plant Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology,” which is being railroaded by the government.
Under the guise of following the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Bt eggplant case, the government, through the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines, has called for a series of consultations and meetings on the drafting of this new JDC, purportedly to replace the Department of Agriculture’s Administrative Order No. 8 series of 2002 (“Rules and Regulations for the Importation and Release into the Environment of Plant and Plant Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology”).
As we have already pointed out, farmers and consumers have yet to reap the fruits of their rigorous campaign and struggle against Bt eggplant and genetically modified (GM) crops; and to take advantage of the landmark Supreme Court ruling (anchored on the precautionary principle that effectively ordered the following:  permanent ban on Bt eggplant field testings, and  temporary ban on any new application for contained use, field testing, propagation and commercialization, importation of GM crops including, but not limited to Bt eggplant).
It is clear why the government is fast-tracking the crafting of a new JDC: “import permits for specific GM products, including animal feeds, soya, sorghum, are set to expire this year, with one expiring next month and five more permits expiring later this year.” Traders and importers of GM products want a new JDC so as not to disrupt the flow of imports as sourcing out non-GMO supply would be more costly for them. This only shows that a new JDC is in the best interest of traders and importers of GM products, not of the farmers, consumers and general public.
Even before the government could draft a new JDC, it challenged the Supreme Court decision through a motion for reconsideration. We find it insulting to farmers and consumers that even as the Supreme Court had imposed a temporary ban on new applications and importation of GM products, local and foreign traders, importers and animal feed millers can continue to ship in GMO products for as long as their permits are not yet expired.
During last year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation High Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology, it was clearly raised by economies in attendance that the delays in the commercialization of GM research in the Philippines may impact the country’s “agricultural competitiveness,” particularly in the light of trade liberalization initiatives such as the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement. This further backs our argument that the new circular will only support, strengthen and intensify the importation of GM crops and by-products.
As if more than a decade of GM corn commercialization in the Philippines is not enough proof and living testimony that GM propagation and commercialization have not benefited corn farmers and have led to irreversible adverse effects on their socio-economic status, the government is fast-tracking the crafting and approval of a new JDC without thorough public participation and information.
The KMP farmers strongly oppose and reject the new JDC. Only the profit-oriented multinational and transnational agrochemical companies promoting GMO crops, products and technologies; and the traders and exporters of genetically engineered (GE) crops and by-products, in particular US-based exporters of soybean, soybean meal, feeds and fodder, coarse grains, cotton, vegetable oil and other GE products—an industry that is worth almost $800 million—stand to benefit from the JDC.
The KMP farmers strongly oppose and reject the JDC. We will defend our rights to safe and sufficient food, health and healthy environment at all times. We will continue to defend our rights to land, seeds and technology for the people.
—RAFAEL V. MARIANO, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, [email protected]
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