By Baretang Bikolnon Staff
Harvesting their success on historic Golden Rice uprooting six years ago, Bicol alliance against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) said the farmers in Northern and Central Luzon should do the same because of threat against Golden Rice field trials.
Sararong Inisyatiba para Wasakon Ang Lasong GMO (SIKWAL – GMO), as region-wide alliance, unites farmers to oppose the application and implementation of genetically modified golden rice field and feed testing here in Bicol and across the country.
“We oppose foreign control of agriculture and the Agro-chemical Trans National Corporations, which primarily promote it along with government agencies including the Department of Agriculture or DA, IIRI and Phil Rice,” SIKWAL – GMO said in their unity statement.
“Golden Rice is not a solution to a complex problem and can only further exacerbate the situation of people’s hunger,” the group added highlighting the historic Golden Rice uprooting in Pili, Camarines Sur in August 8, 2013.
The uprooting in Bicol region continues to inspire farmers and other networks around the world in resisting GMOs and other corporate interventions in agriculture.
Protest against Munoz’ Golden Rice Resolution
In 2018, previous members of the City Council Munoz, Nueva Ecija have released a resolution approving the field trials of the genetically modified rice inside the station of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice) in Munoz. Philrice is the lead proponent of the Golden Rice project, also known as the Healthy Rice project.
However, farmers, women-leaders and development workers from Munoz and other parts of Nueva Ecija have called on the City Council of Munoz to review its previous approval for the Golden Rice field trials and ensure the safety of the people and the environment.
Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, former Dept of Agrarian Reform Secretary, called on the City Council members to look out for the interest and welfare of their constituents and the Filipino farmers. “The field trials in Munoz will likely to have ramifications among rice farmers in the country, not only Nueva Ecija.”
According to SIKWAL – GMO, Golden Rice is another type of high input variety that is adapted to use high amounts of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides that have long been opposed by farmers.
The Bicol alliance also added that GMO is being pushed by Trans-National-Corporations (TNCs) such as Syngenta and Monsanto, philanthropic foundations, USAID along with the IRRI, Philrice, the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board (GRHB) and the DA itself to earn huge profits while hiding in the program that the creation of Golden Rice is for humanitarian purposes.
According to Alfie Pulumbarit, MASIPAG advocacy officer, other issues include the low beta-carotene content of the Golden Rice, which degrades quickly after harvesting and processing of the rice.
In a recent study from India, Golden Rice has to be ‘vacuum-packed’ and refrigerated so that it can save at least 50% of its beta-carotene content. Previous studies from India also showed that local rice crossed with the Golden Rice did not develop fully and suffered from lower growth and production.
“This is an alarming case for the farmers, especially in Nueva Ecija who are already suffering from the effects of drought, as well as the effects from the low buying prices of palay related to the recently signed rice tariffication law,” MASIPAG stated. (BaretangBikolnon.com)