December 14, 2015


Anti-biotech groups hail Philippine GMO ruling


The environmental group Greenpeace gloated over the recent decision of the Philippine Supreme Court that temporarily stopped future applications for field testing, propagation and commercialisation, and importation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), saying it was a "major setback for the GE industry".


Greenpeace Southeast Asia was among the petitioners that sought a stop years ago to the field trials for Bt eggplant, a product of a technology involving the insertion of a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that protects the crop from pests. The lower Court of Appeals granted the petitioners' motion in May 2013, but pro-biotech groups including the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, Environmental Management Bureau, University of the Philippines (UP) Los Baños and CropLife Philippines appealed the decision before the high court.


"This (Supreme Court) decision builds on a wave of countries in Europe rejecting GE crops, and is a major setback for the GE industry," said Virginia Benosa-Llorin, ecological agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines.


CropLife Asia, meanwhile, maintained that the biotech crops "have the potential to improve farmer income and livelihoods, achieve food and nutrition security, enhance consumer choice in the marketplace, as well as benefit the environment". 


"The plant biotechnology industry is committed to providing modern agricultural tools which help farmers look after the planet, feed a growing population, and progress rural communities. We are committed to complying with science-based government regulations, including following strict guidelines and best industry stewardship practices for confined field trials", CropLife Asia executive director Dr. Siang Hee Tan told eFeedLink through e-mail.

'High standard of protection'


Dr. Tan said, "The plant science industry strongly believes that the current biosafety laws provide for a high standard of protection for the environment and human health, as has been evidenced by over a decade of field trials and commercialisation of biotech crops in the Philippines."
 He expressed the hope that Filipino farmers and consumers would continue to "enjoy the benefits of biotech crops". CropLife comprises companies "at the forefront of crop protection, seeds and/or biotechnology research and development".


The Supreme Court decision is the first in the world to adopt the precautionary principle - which holds that it is best to err on the side of caution in the absence of scientific consensus--regarding GM products, according to Greenpeace.


The Philippines has successfully cultivated and commercialised Bt corn for the past 12 years, and ranks as the 12th-largest country in area planted to GM corn. It has also become a model in biotech corn production for other Southeast Asian countries and a leader in biotech research and commercialisation.


The high court ruling is feared to adversely affect the Philippines' Bt corn cultivation in the long run since it also uses virtually the same Bacillus thuringiensis technology, as well as the local feed industry, which uses most of GM corns produced in the Philippines。- Rick Alberto 

Video >

Follow Us