Holiday Greetings from MASIPAG!

In 2018, farmers faced tremendous challenges to food security and food sovereignty, including losing Atty Ben Ramos, a staunch advocate of farmers’ rights to land, seeds and technology. Rice, central to our culture and livelihood has been marred with threats from worsened agricultural liberalization and potentially harmful technology such as Golden Rice.

But we march on! In 2018 we gained the significant support from consumers’ groups who join the farmers in their call for safe food and healthy environment. Our collective voices become louder as we call for safe, sufficient and accessible food for all!

We look forward to 2019 with hope and renewed vigor! Happy holidays to everyone!

#DefendOurRice #FightForOurRights
#AssertFarmersRights #StopGoldenRice
#JusticeForAttyBenRamos #Light4Ramos

MASIPAG launches online petition sign on against Golden Rice

With the Golden Rice field trials approved in the municipalities of Munoz in Nueva Ecija and San Mateo in Isabela, the livelihood and health of farmers and consumers all around the Philippines stand to be threatened by this unnecessary genetically modified crop. Apart from the Philippines, Golden Rice will also reportedly be tested in Bangladesh and Indonesia. Hence, it is essential that people not only from the Philippines but all over the globe show our unity and solidarity against the potentially harmful GM rice!

MASIPAG and the regional network Stop Golden Rice! Network has launched an online petition against Golden Rice. The petition aims to collect as many signatures as we can to show our opposition and rejection of Golden Rice because we do not need it to address Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD). What we need is a comprehensive and holistic solution that will ensure that our rights for safe, sufficient and affordable food will be upheld.

Click the link to sign up, and please share!

 

 

Position Paper Supporting the Proposed Human Rights Defenders Protection Act of 2018

This Position Paper was submitted to the Committee on Human Rights at the House of Representatives during the Committee Hearing on December 4, 2018 in support of the Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Bill authored by Reps. Zarate and Lagman, with Atty. Kit Belmonte as head of the Technical Working Group. The Committee approved the bill, dubbed as a ‘breakthrough’ in human rights legislation. According to Chairperson Chito Gascon of the Commission on Human Rights, the “proposed law is the first of its kind not only in the Philippines, but in [the] Asia Pacific region.”

MASIPAG is a network of farmers’, scientists and non-government organizations (NGOs) pushing for food security and farmer empowerment through sustainable agriculture and upholding farmers’ rights to land, seeds and technology. Since the mid-1980s, we have been working towards the development of the communities and uplifting the lives of the small-scale, resource-poor farmers through extensive orientations and trainings on technical practices on sustainable agriculture, as well as information-dissemination and awareness-raising on the various issues that affect them. Staff and farmer-trainors often traverse remote areas to reach the farmers and organizations that need the most help, and these often put them in precarious situations exacerbated by the increasing militarization in these critical areas.

Atty Ben Ramos, the 34th lawyer and human rights defender killed under the Duterte administration, was valued member of the MASIPAG network through his NGO, Paghida-et sa Kauswagan Development Group or PDG. He served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1998-2016 where he helped develop the network’s policies and ensure that MASIPAG’s farmer-led principles are upheld. Atty Ben staunchly promoted farmers’ rights to land, seeds and technology.

MASIPAG staff, farmer-leaders and members of the network who are promoting farmers’ rights are also not exempt from harassment and vilification. Two of our number in Northern Luzon has been maliciously tagged back in September and as such, they are now open targets of intimidation and possible assassination under the Duterte’s militarist regime.

The right to development is a vital human right. Articles 1 and 2 of the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development states that

“The right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized. The human right to development also implies the full realization of the right of peoples to self-determination, which includes, subject to the relevant provisions of both International Covenants on Human Rights, the exercise of their inalienable right to full sovereignty over all their natural wealth and resources.”

The harassment, vilification and worse, killings of human rights defenders and development workers are affront to the people’s right to development. These abhorrent practices usually done by state actors who should be protecting the peoples’ rights weaken the nation’s thrust for genuine development, especially in the rural areas whose services brought by development workers and their organizations are most needed. It is very unfortunate that these acts are being made at a time when the country is facing problems on rice shortages and food insecurity.

In this light, MASIPAG fully supports the passage of the Human Rights Defenders Protection Act. We call on our honourable representatives to heed the call of the people and uphold the people’s right to development, and to protect the rights of human rights defenders and development workers against harassment, vilification and killings.

Lastly, we call for justice for Atty Ben Ramos and all the victims of extra-judicial killings. #

 

Unmasking two decades of lies about Golden Rice

Almost two decades have passed since the biotechnology industry launched its work to create Golden Rice, a genetically modified crop allegedly meant to combat malnutrition. Yet it still has not been commercialised anywhere in the world. A new report from GRAIN, MASIPAG and the Stop Golden Rice! Network sheds light on the flaws and failures of Golden Rice and unmask the question whether the world really needs Golden Rice or is it another seed industry’s public relations efforts in favour of Genetically-Modified (GM) crops.

Golden Rice continues to be hailed by its proponents as a panacea to cure Vitamin A deficiency. But evidence has shown that Golden Rice has much lower levels of beta-carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A, than sweet potatoes – an abundant and natural source of Vitamin A that can easily found in all the target countries for Golden Rice commercialisation. Further, more than half of the level of beta-carotene in Golden Rice is known to decline while in storage. Unsurprisingly, the recent safety approval of Golden Rice by the United States Food and Drugs Administration (US FDA) came with an explicit note saying that the level of beta-carotene in the rice is too low for it to be presented as particularly nutritious.

Meanwhile, target countries for the commercialisation of Golden Rice like the Philippines and Bangladesh have managed to lower their respective Vitamin A Deficiency levels over the years through dietary improvements and other methods which are more cost-effective and proven to be safe.

The pro-Golden Rice camp is seen as peddling a GM product that is not tested nor proven to be safe, and using it as a Trojan horse to open the door to other genetically-modified crops and livestock.

“Golden Rice is a techno-fix to malnutrition and a corporate ploy to control our agriculture,” says Cris Panerio of MASIPAG. “Asian people and the rest of the world do not need Golden Rice.” Indeed, the solution to hunger and malnutrition lies in comprehensive approaches that ensure people have access to diverse sources of nutrition. Securing small farmers’ control over resources such as seed, appropriate technologies, water and land is the real key to improving food production and eradicating hunger and malnutrition.

The report is available in http://www.grain.org/e/6067

 

MASIPAG leaders pay tribute to Atty Ben Ramos

MASIPAG, along with small farmers, progressive organizations, relatives and friends paid tribute to our fallen lawyer of the people, Attt Ben Ramos, last night in his hometown in Sipalay City.

Around a thousand of small farmers remembered Atty Ben, his simple life and his immense contribution in uplifting farmers lives and genuine rural development.

Aside from being a pro bono lawyer for farmers engaged in land disputes, he is also a prolific development worker and sustainable agriculture advocate. His dedication, sacrifices will serve as an inspiration for farmers in achieving a just and humane society.

Long live Atty Ben Ramos! Justice to all victims of extra judicial killings!

#JUSTICEforAttyBenRamos
#StopTheKillings