Monday, June 9, 2008

Urgent Message for CBCP, Vatican, and the Philippine Government

This message is from this blog. There's a lot of debate about GMO. Read on.

To the CBCP, the VATICAN and the Government: ORGANIC FARMING NOT GE Rice is the ANSWER to the Rice Crisis!

The long lines for subsidized NFA rice show the panic caused by claims of a rice crisis. With the reported good harvest of rice farmers recently, it is hard to believe that we have a real shortage in rice production. However, it is true that we have always needed to import rice as our production is not enough. Instead of making domestic production enough for our own needs, the current government policy  focuses merely on making the price of food affordable, even if this means relying on imported food. Of course in the case of the low P18 /kilo NFA rice, the real cost is hidden through subsidy that the government will not be able to afford very long. In the meantime, we have become the world's biggest net importer of rice.

As if this is not problematic enough, the NO to GMO coalition warns that current food importation could be used to facilitate the entry of genetically engineered rice. Recently NFA announced that we have included long-grain rice from the US to this "cheap rice" to be sold to Filipinos. Last February we received 44,000 metric tons or 880,000 bags for this program.

GE crops have been subject to intense debates in the scientific community where there is no consensus that its potential negative impacts on public health & safety and long-term impacts on the environment have been resolved.


In fact, most recent studies have shown that GM crops will not feed the poor. Last April, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTF); a comprehensive collaboration between public bodies such as the WB, UNEP, WHO, governments, NGOs and scientific bodies covering 4 year of extensive study involving 400 scientists have concluded that there is little role for GM, as it is currently practiced, in feeding the poor on a large scale. They concluded that "... (a)ssessment of the technology lags behind its development, information is anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty about possible benefits and damage is unavoidable." Instead the IAASTD report concludes further that small-scale, agro-ecological farming will be more effective at meeting today challenges than the old energy- and chemical-intensive paradigm of industrial agricultural production. Two USA universities support this when they independently confirmed that GM soy produced 10 per cent less crop than the closest non-GMO soy variety!


The coalition reminds the public that in 2006, the maker of the LL601 genetically engineered rice, the Bayer CropScience, has tested it but has not obtained approval to market it. Since 2001 it has been contaminating food supplies. The contamination reached as far as exports to EU, Japan, France, Sweden, Germany  and Switzerland.  US farmers whose crops were contaminated sued Bayer. the EU imposed ban, Japan & Switzerland suspended imports and Germany pulled it out of their supermarkets.

Twice since November 2006 and recently last April, traces of LL601 have been found in US long-grain rice tested from Philippines supermarkets. While the NFA has said that US long grain rice shipments had been tested and certified as GMO-free by the Eurofins Gene Scan through the US Dept of Agriculture,  the reliability of US tests is questionable.  Since Jan, 2007, twenty-three (23) US-tested GMO-free rice shipments were rejected in the European Union (EU) because they tested positive for GMOs under EU standards.


Despite all of these latest cases and evidences, the coalition is alarmed over recent news that quotes CBCP Bio-Ethics Committee Chair, Bishop Jose Oliveros that Vatican may issue a statement supporting the use of GMOs to feed the poor.

We reiterate our demand to government and extends this as an invitation to BISHOP OLIVEROS and THE CBCP BIo-Ethics EPISCOPAL COMMISSION for a dialogue with NO2GMO at the earliest convenient time to examine the latest scientific evidences clearly showing that it is sustainable agriculture and not GM in agriculture that will solve hunger.