July 29, 2016

 

Philippine high court reverses ruling on GMOs

 

 

The Philippine Supreme Court (SC) has reversed its ruling stopping the issuance of new permits on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

 

The new decision released Tuesday granted the petitions of nine motions for reconsideration of an earlier ruling in December last year that temporarily stopped future applications for field testing, propagation and commercialisation, and importation of GMOs.

 

The high court's December ruling also invalidated the Department of Agriculture's rules for the importation and release into the environment of plants and plant products derived from the use of modern biotechnology that have been in force for over 13 years, saying it did not meet the minimum requirements for safety under the National Biosafety Framework (NBF). It also permanently banned field trials for the genetically modified Bt eggplant.

 

The SC in its new decision said it should not have ruled that the Department of Agriculture rules embodied in Administrative Order No. 08-2002 was invalid because "this matter was only collaterally raised" by the environmental group Greenpeace in its bid to stop the GM Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) eggplant trials.

 

Local farmers and processors of corn welcomed the new decision with "with great relief".

 

Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (PhilMaize) said the December decision had threatened corn farmers' welfare and disrupted the domestic supply chain.

 

"Kudos to [the high court] for upholding the tangible benefits that biotechnology brings to the Filipino people and our country's economy," said Roger Navarro, president of the Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (PhilMaize).

 

He said the December decision had threatened corn farmers' welfare and disrupted the domestic supply chain.

 

The Bt technology used in the eggplant has been used in the Bt corn crop being propagated in the country. 

 

Corn is the only GM crop allowed in the Philippines for commercial production. About 70% of corn for animal feeds are GM, according to the agriculture department.