Writ of Kalikasan granted against Bt Talong field trials DA’s flawed GMO approval system must be scrutinized: Greenpeace Quezon City, 12 May 2011 -- Greenpeace today called for greater scrutiny of the country's GMO approval system as it welcomed the Supreme Court decision to grant a Writ of Kalikasan in favor of the petition to stop field trials of the genetically-modified organism (GMO) Bt eggplant in the Philippines.
"Greenpeace believes the granting of the Writ of Kalikasan to be a recognition of the threats that GMOs pose to human health and the environment. We welcome this as a positive development: GMOs and GMO field trials clearly violate every Filipino's constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology, and their invasion into our fields and our diets must be stopped," said Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
"The Supreme Court has given hope to Filipinos as its decision now puts into the spotlight the country's flawed GMO approval system which has never rejected any GMO application, allowing dangerous GMO crops to be eaten and planted by Filipinos. This is an outrage and such a regulatory system which clearly disregards public good must be scrapped," he added.
There are serious uncertainties regarding the safety and long-term impacts of GMOs. Many independent scientific studies provide clear evidence that GMOs such as Bt eggplant, as well as Bt corn, can negatively impact the liver, kidneys or blood when ingested. These man-made organisms, when planted in open fields, have also been found to crossbreed with natural species, endangering biodiversity.
Last April 26, the environment group, along with fellow petitioners, filed a petition asking the Supreme Court for a Writ of Kalikasan and Writ of Continuing Mandamus against GMO field trials. The petition seeks to immediately stop the field trials of Bt eggplant. It also puts into question the flawed government regulatory process for approving GMOs, and highlights the need for a genuine and comprehensive process of informing and consulting the public, as well as ensuring the safety of GMOs first on health and environmental grounds before they are released into the open.
Despite the scientific doubt that surrounds GMO food crops, the Philippines has never rejected any GMO application, approving, since 2002, a total of 67 GMOs for importation, consumption and/or propagation. Most of these GMOs are approved as food for Filipinos. Several varieties of Bt corn have already been approved for planting, and are now being eaten, despite questions on their safety. Ironically, while other countries are taking the precautionary approach to GMOs because of the dangers they pose to human health and the environment, the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) has done exactly the opposite.
Greenpeace contends that the DA's track record favoring GMO approvals violates the very foundations of its mandate, and must be accountable. The environment group believes that both the approval process and the regulators, such as the DA's scientists, must be scrutinized. Currently, the agency and scientists who regulate and approve GMOs are the same people who promote and propagate them and therefore seem to be serving the interests of multinational agro-chemical companies, rather than upholding public good.
"We hope that this Writ of Kalikasan will compel the DA and GMO regulators to review their agenda independent of pressures and influence of multinational GMO corporations. We are also calling on Filipinos to be more vigilant in protecting our food and calling on government to be accountable for regulations that go against protecting our health and environment," Ocampo concluded.
Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.
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