‘Farmers deceived by GM corn farming’

ROXAS City — Farmers from Antique, Capiz, Iloilo and Negros Occidental claimed to have been deceived by technicians from genetically modified (GM) seed corporations and the Department of Agriculture (DA) into cultivating GM corns.

Ten years ago, the farmers were told that planting GM corn will increase their production and improve their income, and thus improve their quality of life, their representatives told DA officials.

Since GM corn production comes with huge volumes of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, the farmers entered into a loan with private financiers, with their harvest as payment at the financiers’ dictated price, they said.

Melchor Asupardo from Dumarao, Capiz, said GM corn farming contaminated their traditional and open-pollinated corn varieties.

Private traders sell only GM corn, leaving farmers with no other option but to plant GM corn seeds, and the farmers got hooked to acquiring more debts they could no longer pay, he said.

Because of unpaid loans, most of the farmers lost their lands to their financiers, he said.

Glyphosate herbicides being sprayed on glyphosate-tolerant GM corn also caused the farmers health problems and prevented them from planting vegetables near GM-corn fields, said Asupardo.

The farmers also told DA officials that they wanted to stop cultivating GM corn already and asked for “substantial and programmatic support” to convert into farming non-GM corn and other crops.

They said they wanted to pursue organic farming, but they need government support, considering that they have also been victims of super typhoon “Yolanda.”

During a dialogue with the farmers at the DA regional office in Iloilo City on March 28, DA regional director Larry Nacionales committed to provide alternative livelihood to the farmers.

He promised that DA Region 6 will provide them with white corn for seed production, vegetable seeds, livestock, and farm machineries such as corn sheller, hammer mill for feeds processing, and carabaos./PN


Job Opportunity: Administrative and Finance Officer

Administrative and Finance Officer

MASIPAG (Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura, Farmer-Scientist Partnership), is a nationwide network of farmers’ organizations, scientists and non-government organizations working to empower resource-poor Filipino farmers through their control of seeds and biological resources, agricultural production and technologies, and associated knowledge. Our National Secretariat office is based in 2611 Carbern Ville, Los Baños, Laguna.

We are looking for a dynamic, self-driven individual who is committed to make his/her contribution to development work.

We are in need of an Administrative/Finance Officer with the following qualifications:

• Graduate of BS Accountancy
• With at least 1-2 years experience accounting/financial management
• With good interpersonal and communications skills
• Willing to travel and work beyond office hours
• Based in Laguna, or willing to relocate in Los Baños, Laguna
• Can work under pressure with minimal supervision
• Knowledge in computerized accounting system is an advantage
• Teamplayer

His/Her duties and responsibilities include:

• Supervise the financial and general services operations of the Secretariat
• Manage staff benefits and services
• Ensure staff compliance with established administrative policies and procedures
• Ensure efficient use of secretariat’s financial and material resources
• Consolidate the network’s budget
• Ensure accuracy of financial statements and other related documents
• Prepare financial reports for management and funding donors

Salary is at par with other organizations.

Interested parties can send their application to info@masipag.org on or before June 15, 2013 addressed to:

Dr. Chito Medina
National Coordinator

MASIPAG on The Guardian article on climate change adaptation

The Guardian quotes MASIPAG’s Dr. Chito Medina on how agriculture can adapt to climate change. The article discusses the opposing technologies espoused by heavily funded International Rice Research Institute (“cutting-edge science”) and organized farmers’ groups (“low-tech sustainable farming”), including MASIPAG.

Click here to read the full article.

MASIPAG’s sustainable agriculture have been an effective adaptive mechanism to climate change, as documented in 2009′s Food Security and Farmer Empowerment study. The chapter on the climate change outlook can be found here.

MASIPAG awarded 2013 Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan

December 5, 2013, Quezon City – Farmer-scientist group MASIPAG was awarded the Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan (Heroes for the Environment Award), a biennial awards event recognizing ordinary individuals and organizations that have launched notable actions and programs to defend the environment, lives and rights of the Filipino people.

DSC_0191 (800x539)

Carlito Seguiro, MASIPAG Chairman of the Board and a farmer from Negros Occidental (third from the left) receives the Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan award.

According to Ms. Frances Quimpo, CEC-Philippines Executive Director, the this year’s Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan (GBK) “honors the women and men who fought and continue to fight for the environment and for the rights of the Filipino people.” Quimpo further stated that “each of the awardees have their own distinct advocacy and initiatives but they intersect in one common objective: the realization of a safe and healthy environment for the Filipinos.”

MASIPAG was awarded as one of the organizations who have demonstrated organizational strength and unity in upholding the welfare of the people and of the environment by exemplary actions and advocacy, campaigns, education, research, technology, development, community services, mass media and cultural work. Other awardees include Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization (Most Distinguished Awardee), Kababaihang Nagtataglay ng Bihirang Lakas (Organizational Awardee), Armin Marin, Rodne Galicha and Wilhelm Geertman (Individual Awardees).

GBK stated that MASIPAG has exemplified in its strong passion and bias for the small and resource-poor farmers, in the improvement of the farmers’ quality of life, and increasing farmers control and sustainable use of genetic and biological resources, agricultural production and associated knowledge. For more than 25 years, MASIPAG has grown not just a small biodiversity conservation project but a social movement of 563 farmers’ organizations, 47 church-based groups, 33 non-governmental organizations and 15 scientist partners. It has built partnership with 20 local government organizations pushing for organic agriculture and banning GMOs in their respective areas of jurisdiction. Recently, the MASIPAG organic standards, including its Participatory Guarantee System (MASIPAG Farmers’ Guarantee System) were recognized by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM).

DSC_0202 (800x575)

GBK cited MASIPAG’s track record in practical work in sustainable organic agriculture in the farmers’ fields, saying that the organization is highly regarded as leader among SA advocates in the country. MASIPAG was also nominated by other organizations and finally selected as the NGO representative to the National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB), the policy making body created with the passage of the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010.

GBK in its citation said that MASIPAG is steadfast in pursuing its campaign to protect farmers’ rights to freely save, reuse and propagate seeds, and to disseminate technologies which are sustainable and controlled by farmers. MASIPAG’s dedication to the protection of farmers’ rights and the natural agro-biodiversity was put into test upon the commercialization of GMOs in the country in 2002. MASIPAG’s sincerity in its advocacy and the protection of small and resource-poor farmers’ rights was demonstrated in massive information campaigns, research on socio-economic impacts of GMOs and lobbying against the field trials and commercialization of GMOs. The network is also one of the petitioners in the filing of Writ of Kalikasan (Writ of Nature) against the field testing of Bt eggplant which was favorably supported by the Court of Appeals in its final ruling on September 20, 2013.

DSC_0258 (536x800)

The 3rd GBK cooperating organizations include the Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines, AGHAM, Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources, EcoWaste Coalition, Panalipdan Mindanao and the Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center (FIDEC). The GBK Awards Committee is being chaired by Caloocan Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Iñiguez Jr. together with National Artist for Literature Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, Atty. Howard Calleja, Dr. Carol Araullo, Dr. Teresita Perez and Sr. Ma. Carmen Dianne Cabasagan, RGS. ###

MASIPAG releases film about the plight of GM corn farmers on World “Foodless” Day

Calls award-giving body not to give recognition to Monsanto, TNCs


Los Banos, Laguna – “We loan the seeds, and pay upon harvest. We are usually left with empty sacks. So we loan for food and family expenses, and inputs to be able to plant for the next season. Upon harvest, we have leftover debt.” This is but one of the numerous testaments of farmers that farmer-scientist group MASIPAG has documented on film about the impact of GM corn in the lives and livelihood of corn farmers.

The film entitled “10 Years of Failure, Farmers Deceived by GM corn” shows the dire situation of corn farmers in the Philippines who have adopted GM corn. Amidst protests from farmers, scientists, consumers and basic sectors, GM corn was commercialized in the Philippines in 2003. At present, there are about 8 varieties of single, stacked-trait and pyramided GM corn approved by the government for direct planting. It is now planted in about 685,317 hectares of agricultural land allotted for corn.

The film documentary is based on the study done by MASIPAG on the socio-economic impacts of GM corn on farmers’ lives and livelihood after more than 10 years of commercialization. In the film, GM corn farmers relate how they became indebted because of the rising cost of GM corn seeds and increasing cost and quantity of inputs being used. The film also shared the farmers account on the effect of GM corn farming such as emergence of new pests, soil erosion, corn contamination and human and animal health impacts. Farmers also shared the difficulty to go back to traditional or organic corn farming because of the loss of traditional seeds and practices replaced by GM corn farming and the effects of neighboring GM corn plantations. The film documentary covers the islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

The film is set to be released online on the observance of World Food Day. However, executives of agrochemical transnational companies Monsanto and Syngenta will be awarded by the World Food Prize Foundation on October 17. Awardees include Monsanto executive vice president and chief technology officer Robert Fraley. Fraley was responsible for the development of Monsanto’s genetically modified crops.

MASIPAG national coordinator Dr Chito Medina says that GM crops such as GM corn only enforces corporate control of agriculture. “It is quite tragic that on World Food Day, huge agrochemical companies who wrested away farmers’ rights on seeds, caused environmental degradation and pollution of our valuable genetic resources are put in high regard, while small and resource-poor farmers who nurtured the seeds and who feed the population are left landless and hungry.”

Medina also stressed that it is high time that the government heed the calls of the farmers and take policy recommendations seriously so as to attain food security thru sustainable and biodiversity-based agriculture. MASIPAG advocates for farmer-led sustainable and organic agriculture.

Recently, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development published a report on the importance of sustainable agriculture to ensure food security in a changing climate. In 2008, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) said that the present chemical and capital intensive agriculture and the marginalization of small farmers are no longer tenable, and called on governments to redirect efforts to attaining sustainable practices in agriculture.###

Link to the video -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCuWs8K9-kI