BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – “No to commercialization of our food systems; stop Golden Rice.”
This is the call of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. as it expressed its concern over the commercial propagation of the Genetically Modified (GM) crop in Golden Rice, as approved by the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industries (DA-BPI).
Misereor, in its press release, said the genetically-modified Golden Rice is “likely to have unforeseen impacts on people, animals, and other plants’ health, biodiversity, and environment”.
“It is also worrisome that agrochemical and seeds corporations would take advantage and control of the rice farming systems, which is a staple food of Filipinos,” the press release said, adding, “This will be risky for small farmers’ local and traditional rice seeds. Instead of a monoculture crop, the government should continuously promote backyard and community gardening for diversify the sources of nutrients within homes and communities.”
Misereor added that while it recognizes the need to address the apparent prevalence of nutritional problems such as vitamin A deficiency, it does not necessarily need to be addressed by an engineered crop, but rather through an eco-systemic approach such as agroecology, permaculture and sustainable agriculture which promote dietary diversification, improve soil health and condition, and are economically viable.
“We assert the need for transparency on assessment results and the need for independent testing. We express our doubt on whether Golden Rice has the capability to address nutrient deficiency among Filipinos when other systemic issues such as the provision of affordable food, water, housing, and healthcare for all have yet to be fulfilled,” the press release added.
The company further raises the question of the necessity of Golden Rice when root crops and leafy vegetables other than rice can already provide Vitamin A.
“We raise the question of who will truly benefit the most from its profits and the corporatization of food systems that oppress and push our farmers into deeper inequality,” the press release said.
Misereor also urged the government through the Department of Health – National Nutrition Council (NCC) to implement the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition 2017-2022 as an integral part of the Philippine Development Plan (2017-2022) to address the diverse nutritional concerns such as other nutrient deficiencies, maternal nutrition, malnutrition, stunning, including hunger.
It also called on Agriculture Secretary William Dar and Bureau of Plant Industry Director George Culaste to reconsider their decision “until further substantial review and independent risk assessments to health, cultural and socio-economic impacts are done together with the farmers’.
It further called for a “transdisciplinary and mass-oriented approach to addressing societal issues, instead of prioritizing band-aid solutions made for profit generation”.