Cebuanos reject GE
‘Golden’ rice anew, calls support for Ecological Agriculture
October 8, 2014
CEBU CITY – At the
People’s Forum on Ecological Agriculture held today in Cebu City, more
than 400 leaders representing various farming group, women and youth
organizations, consumer and health advocates have declared strong
opposition against genetically modified ‘Golden’ rice and called on
the Department of Agriculture to protect their crops from possible
contamination with genetically modified organisms (GMO).
The renewed call was
supported by Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale and 3rd District Board
Member Gigi Sanchez along with other local government and
municipalities of the province. Vice Gov. Magpale in her message
recalled that most of the concerns surrounding GMOs relates to their
potential for negative effects on the human health. “Over a decade
ago, there was an attempt to apply GMOs to crops for mass production,
but this was rejected due to its destructive effects,” she said.
Vice Governor Magpale
pointed out that the second highest budgetary priority of Cebu
province is to agriculture and food production. The thrust of the
present capitol administration is to ensure food security and to
ensure that what we grow, market, buy, cook, feed, serve and eat are
food that are not chemically laden and are non-GMOs.
Urging everyone to fight
GMOs, Magpale said, “let us join hands and declare war against GMOs
for a safe and healthy agricultural food production for Cebuanos.”
In 2013, Greenpeace has
found GMO contamination in white corn sold in various markets in
Sultan Kudarat. Cebuanos who are white corn eaters are wary that GMO
contamination has reached Cebu and endangers their traditional
heirloom variety called Tiniguib.
Environmental releases of
GMOs, whether through field trials or commercial propagation, leads to
contamination which undermines the choice of farmers not to plant and
consumers not to eat GMOs.
White corn eaters especially
diabetics prefer Tiniguib because of its low glycemic index. Farmers
on the other hand favor this variety for its longer shelf life
enabling farmers to keep and continue replanting them without the need
to buy seeds again for planting which is often the case for GMOs and
hybrids. With Tiniguib, farmers’ food, nutrition and source of income
“Farming has been my main
source of income, but I practice organic and diversified farming. This
ensures that the variety of crops I produce will be safe and healthy
to be eaten by people, including my own family,” said Mario Manaban, a
farmer from Carcar City. “There have been offers for me to plant GMO
seeds, saying it will boost my production and provide higher yield
from my farm. But I rejected the offer because there are just so many
uncertainties and risks linked to these GMOs.”
Aside from genetically
modified corn, another GM crop about to be planted and tested in the
Philippines is ‘Golden’ rice, touted to help solve Vitamin A
deficiency and address world hunger.
GM proponents have also
marketed GMOs as economically viable to local farmers. Greenpeace and
other groups disprove this, saying how many farmers worldwide have
been trapped into an endless cycle of dependency and debt from these
powerful agro-chemical corporations. Recently, the ongoing Farmer
Scientists Training Program (FSTP), known for using only Philippine
varieties of white corn cultivated for food, explained how the
domestically-grown open pollinated variety (OPV) of white corn is now
massively propagated by farmers for its high yield, with the seeds
only costing between P20-25 per kilo, compared to the genetically
modified Bt corn seeds which cost P100-150 per kilo.
“Government should support
and promote Ecological Agriculture to farmers, instead of offering
seeds and technologies from agrochemical companies,” stressed Praxides
Embalzado of #GMO Free Cebu.
Unlike genetically modified
organisms, Ecological Agriculture taps into ecological systems and
natural processes to produce food sustainably, making use of natural
and organic fertilizers; diversified farming methods like
intercropping; and the use of cultural, traditional and natural
methods to control pests. Working in harmony with nature, ecological
agriculture boosts Filipino farmers’ livelihood and provides people
with health and nutrition benefits.
“Ecological Agriculture is
the only way to ensure food and nutrition security among Filipinos,”
said Daniel Ocampo, Ecological Agriculture Campaigner for Greenpeace.
“Even the recent UN Study has shown that only small-scale organic
agriculture will feed the world in the future, not these risky GMOs”