More than 400 farmers coming from Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon staged a surprise attack on the field testing site in protest against field trials of genetically modified (GM) rice. About 30 policemen failed to stop the farmers from uprooting the golden rice.
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Bert Autor, coordinator of SIKWALGMOs and secretary general of the KMB, said, “They [farmers] uprooted the Golden rice plants within 15 minutes.”
“They [farmers] were not able to control their emotional outburst,” Autor said in a statement, adding that the farmers were fired up by warnings from “concerned scientists and peasant leaders” about the dangers of the Golden rice or genetically modified (GM)rice to health and its threat to biodiversity.
He said that the GM rice “was nothing but a ploy of agrochemical TNCs, like Syngenta, to satisfy their monopoly on seeds and rake more profit.” “We thank the militant Bicolano farmers for their spontaneous reaction to express their anger against GM rice,” he said.
Wilfredo Marbella, KMP deputy secretary, who joined the protest, said that the uprooting of the GM rice “is our strong political message against greedy agrochemical TNCs like Syngenta and the Aquino government, which allowed field trials of Golden Rice.”
Marbella recalled that members of KMP-Far Eastern Mindanao chapter uprooted Monsanto’s Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) corn crops in an experimental fields in Tampakan, South Cotabato, last August 29, 2001. This action is the first of its kind in the country’s history of protest against GM crops.
More than a decade after, we did [uprooting] in Bikol, Marbella said adding that the field testing of Golden Rice were pushed through despite opposition from farmers, pro-people scientists, church leaders and environmentalists in the country.
“Even if Syngenta and proponents of golden rice are announcing that they, they will make it royalty free and farmers can use the seeds for free due to humanitarian purposes. However, patents were still be owned by Syngenta, in which they can change the agreement regarding royalty any time,” said Marbella.
”The golden rice will pave the way for widespread control of TNCs in agriculture and food by patenting seeds and varieties. We call on the Department of Agriculture to immediately cancel Golden Rice and other GMO field testing in the country. We don’t need GMO. What we need is genuine land reform to address hunger and poverty,” Marbella added.
Meanwhile, in support of the action, the Resistance and Solidarity against Agrochemical TNCs (RESIST) said they will seek the help of the Anakpawis party list to re-file in the 16th Congress the GMO Free Food and Agriculture Act , a bill that will prohibit all field testing of GM crops and ban the entry of all GM crops and food products.
Dr. Chito Medina, Convenor of RESIST and MASIPAG national coordinator, said his group “is calling for an immediate stop to all field testing of GM crops, including Bt Talong, because of the hazards they pose to human health, environment and agriculture.”
MASIPAG (Farmer and Scientist for the Development of Agriculture) is the organization that was able to obtain a writ of kalikasan from the Court of Appeals last May against new applications for field tests of Bt eggplant, another GM plant which was tested last year at Central Bicol State University. Medina said we would like to take this opportunity to call all concerned government agencies to implement the decision of the Court of Appeals to stop field testing of BT eggplant in the Philippines.
In another statement, the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), an Asia-wide coalition of farmers in 9 countries, also express support to Bicolano farmers and the Filipino people in general, saying there are better ways of relieving vitamin A deficiency, such as encouraging farmers to grow and eat other vegetables which is cheaper. Golden Rice is not the answer to curb hunger and malnutrition. “We condemned the agrochemical TNCs control in agriculture. We call on our members’ across Asia to uproot all GM crops in their country and strongly oppose it’s commercialization.,” said Rahmat Ajiguna, APC deputy secretary general based In Indonesia.
Wilfredo Marbella, KMP (Philippines)
Mobile no. +639-999614831
Dr. Chito Medina, Masipag and RESIST (Philippines)
Mobile no: +639-175442196
Rajmat Ajiguna, APC (Indonesia)
Mobile no: +682-110857684
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