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. #