New Report on Transformational Food Systems Launched

MASIPAG among the 21 featured initiatives

The Global Alliance for the Future of Food and Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development have released a new report addressing the “significant transformation needed for the future of food that is resilient, renewable, healthy, equitable, diverse and interconnected.” Titled “Beacons of Hope: Accelerating Transformations to Sustainable Food Systems” the report features 21 initiatives that pushes for a more sustainable and equitable food systems, including MASIPAG.

Check out the report here and here.

Golden Rice Uprooting Commemorated

Highlights on global day of action against Golden Rice

Aug 8 – From Manila to Dhaka, the resounding call of farmers, consumers and development networks to stop Golden Rice field trials and commercialization were issued through various forms and activities, commemorating the historic Golden Rice uprooting in Pili, Camarines Sur six years ago.

On Aug 8, 2013, more than 400 farmers, consumers and development workers decisively uprooted the third and secret Golden Rice field trial in the Regional Field Unit of the Dept. of Agriculture in Bicol region. The protest action reverberated across the globe, as it crystallized the peoples’ resistance and opposition against the corporate-driven Golden Rice. It effectively halted the planned commercialization in 2014, until a new application was submitted in 2017.

In an open letter to the Golden Rice proponents in the Philippines and Bangladesh, members and partners of the Stop Golden Rice Network expressed their concern over the continued lack of credible safety studies and the recent findings on the low and fast degrading beta-carotene content. The Network likewise pointed out the safer and more proven alternatives to addressing Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD), which is through the promotion of diverse diets.

The letter, addressed to Dr. Partha Biswas of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and Dr. Reynante Ordonio of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice) was signed by 45 individuals and organizations from the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and Zambia. It was also sent to other relevant institutions including the Agriculture Ministry and Deparment of Bangladesh and the Philippines respectively; the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Helen Keller International.

“We want to send a message to these bodies that the farmers and consumers of the Philippines and Bangladesh are not alone in this campaign, and that there is a regional solidarity against Golden Rice and other programs that affect food sovereigntyand peasant-led agroecology,” said Kartini Samon, researcher from GRAIN.

In the Philippines, where two Golden Rice field trials have reportedly commenced, farmer-scientist network MASIPAG, peasant movement KilusangMagbubukid ng Pilipinas and its regional chapter Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon and the Pesticides Action Network Asia Pacific (PANAP) held a dialogue-lobbying with the City Council of Munoz and the City Agriculture Office last Aug. 5 and 6 to convince the newly-elected council to reconsider the local legislation allowing the field trials.

On August 8, various activities were simultaneously held in the Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Bicol province, Philippines: Mass action by SIKWAL-GMO
– Cebu City, Philippines: Forum and press conference by MASIPAG Visayas and radio hopping to discuss the Golden Rice issue
– Manila, Philippines: Trooping to the Dept. of Health to submit the open letter to Health Secretary Dr. Francisco Duque III
– Bangladesh: Human chain actions and discussion meetings to denounce Golden Rice
– In Jakarta, Indonesia: Public forum by Bina Desa and GRAIN, launching of the Bahasa version of the Golden Rice report and a seed exchange was done among farmers network from four provinces in Jakarta
– Cambodia: Discussion group by the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC) on Golden Rice and other farmers’ issues

Regional formations such as the Pesticides Action Network in Asia Pacific (PANAP) and the Peoples’ Coalition on Food Sovereignty mobilized their partners and networks through social media posts and fan signs. PCFS members from Cambodia Ponlok Khmer likewise joined the call against Golden Rice during their Movement Building Training from August 1-4. Concerned netizens around the world amplified the global resistance against Golden Rice through social media.

The 2019 August 8 International Day of Action is considered a success for mobilizing a wide number of groups and networks against the unsafe and unnecessary Golden Rice. The SGRN aims to sustain this network of support not only to finally halt the GM rice and other GM crops in the region, but also to promote better and healthier alternatives to improving food production and addressing malnutrition. #

City Council of Munoz Asked to Review Golden Rice Resolution

Munoz, Nueva Ecija – Farmers, women-leaders and development workers from Munoz and other parts of Nueva Ecija has 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 first.

In 2018, previous members of the City Council has 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 lead proponent of the Golden Rice project, also known as the Healthy Rice project. However, farmers and consumers remain wary of the GM rice that is supposed to address Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) in the country.

“We are asking the newly-elected officials among the City Council to study the matter and reconsider the previous resolution,” said Alfie Pulumbarit, MASIPAG Advocacy Officer. “Golden Rice is still fraught with issues that seriously question its viability and long-term impacts.”

Among these issues include the low beta-carotene content of the Golden Rice, which degrades quickly after harvesting and processing of the rice. These were indicated in a recent study from India, that also states that 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.

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.

The City Council committed to review the resolution at the soonest possible time.

After the dialogue, the group trooped to the public market for a short program highlighting the results of the lobbying, as well as express the other issues hounding the farmers of Nueva Ecija, including the effects of the rice tariffication law.

The dialogue-lobbying is part of a week-long activity in the Philippines and in other parts of Asia to commemorate the 6th anniversary of the historic Golden Rice uprooting in Pili, Camarines Sur in August 8, 2013. The uprooting has been among the highlights of the movement against Golden Rice and other genetically modified organisms that continue to inspire farmers and networks around the world in resisting GMOs and other corporate interventions in agriculture. #

MASIPAG Supports the Protest against OceanaGold Mining

Didipio, Kasibu – Representatives from various sectors gathered to show support to the ongoing barricade against the continued operations of OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (OGPI). Farmers, local government officials, church leaders and development workers held a program at the barricade site to express their apprehension on the destructive impacts of the mining operations, and to reiterate the call to stop Oceana Gold’s illegal mining operations.

OGPI’s Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) has expired on June 20, 2019, and the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Mining Geosciences Bureau have endorsed the renewal of the FTAA. This, despite the various documentations and studies that point to the negative environmental and social impact of the large-scale mining operations in Didipio and neighbouring barangays. In 2016, then DENR Sec. Gina Lopez has ordered the suspension of OceanaGold’s operations after a mining audit that exposed the various violations of the mining giant.

“We in MASIPAG are in solidarity with the people and community of Didipio in this fight to protect our environment and biodiversity,” said Cris Panerio, National Coordinator of MASIPAG. “The continued and illegal operation of OceanGold that destroys our source of food, livelihood and even culture is an obvious violation to our rights and thus, must be stopped.”

“Nueva Vizcaya as among the most prolific agricultural provinces rely on nature and environment which we must take care of,” said Gov. Carlos Padilla. “The bounty from our environment should be enjoyed by everyone, and not just the few rich corporations who exploit our natural resources.”

“We should not destroy our environment to achieve development,” said Bishop Jose Elmer Mangalinao of the Diocese of Bayombong. Bishop Mangalinao likewise applaud the brave and united efforts of the communities and the people in resisting OceanaGold’s operations. “We should continue to fight not only for our sake, but also for the future generations.”

Farmer and community leaders likewise expressed their dismay towards the mining company, but also remain hopeful and resilient, thanks to the support and solidarity from different sectors and organizations. #

New Regional Coordinator for Luzon

MASIPAG Luzon welcomes its new Regional Coordinator, Maria Rowena Buena!

Rowena or Weng, started in MASIPAG as Technical Staff at the National Secretariat in year 2000. She has since taken several roles in the network to promote and implement its programs and advocacies including the promotion of Participatory Guarantee System or PGS.

She is representing MASIPAG as Secretary for Asia at the Intercontinental Network of Organic Farmers Organization (INOFO), a self-organized structure of small farmer organizations within IFOAM. She is also a member of the IFOAM PGS Committee.

Weng earned both her Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Master’s degree in Management at the University of the Philippines, Los Baños.#