Patikim Festival: A Celebration of Farmers’ Hope and Resilience

Gen Nakar, Quezon- More than 150 participants composed of farmers, advocates, and Local Government Units of General Nakar –all proponents of organic farming and sustainable agriculture – converged in an annual celebration of bountiful harvest called Patikim Festival. The festival showcased locally organic produced cuisine such as rice cakes, local salad, lechon, sinantolan, ginataan and farmer’s breed rice.

Patikim Festival started in Quezon province through the initiative of the people’s organizations (POs) of MASIPAG in the municipalities of Real, Infanta and Gen. Nakar.

An annual event that started in Real, Quezon in 2013, Patikim serves as an expression of gratitude of the farmers to the organizations that helped them recover from the onslaught of typhoon Winnie last 2004, which caused an avalanche of boulders, logs and soil that buried their farmlands and caused the death of several of their families and community members.

The celebration enjoins more farmers to engage in organic farming. According to Virginia Nazareno of Kiday Community Farmers Association, “Our area is naturally hazard-prone due to its proximity to the Pacific coastline and is frequently being battered by strong typhoons, affecting our crops and livelihood. Organic agriculture has a huge potential to increase resiliency of farmers, thereby increasing their ability to function even when faced with unexpected events such as climate change.”

The Catholic Church, through the Social Action Network of Infanta, MASIPAG, as well as local government units and other NGOs, is also involved in the activity. The municipality of General Nakar has also responded to the farmers’ call to strengthen organic agriculture in their municipality. Recently, they passed an ordinance supporting organic agriculture in their area. The municipality of General Nakar is also a member of the League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities and Cities (LOAMC). General Nakar joins all of the municipalities under LOAMC against Golden Rice, a genetically modified rice supposedly aimed at children and women suffering from Vitamin A deficiency. “Our position is non-negotiable on the field testing and commercialization of Golden Rice,” said Hon. Rommel C. Arnado, President of LOAMC-PH in a letter addressed to the National Anti-Poverty Commission during a dialogue with stakeholders on Golden Rice.

Imbued by the spirit of solidarity, the festival symbolizes the aspiration of farmers to be freed from the clutches of transnational corporations that hold the monopoly of seed and technology in maintaining a highly oppressive agricultural system. Patikim Festival is thus more than just a celebration of the farmers’ will to overcome impoverished conditions. It also gestures towards building a welcoming and unifying community of farmers which advocates for natural and organic farming in the Quezon province. #

Multi-sectoral group reach out to environmentalists to Stop Golden Rice, relaunches petition campaign

Quezon City – With the imminent threat of a genetically modified rice to the health of women and children, as well as the diversity of local rice varieties, farmers are calling on environmentalists to help launch anew a petition signing campaign to stop the commercialization of Golden Rice. The Stop Golden Rice! Network, RESIST Agrochemical TNCs with Green Convergence discussed the perils and implications of the Golden Rice during the Kamayan Media Forum held April 20 at the Kamayan Restaurant.

Golden Rice has been genetically modified to express beta-carotene, a pre-cursor of Vitamin A, and is being peddled as a solution to Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) in the Philippines, and other developing countries as well. For almost a decade, farmers’ groups in the Philippines have mounted a campaign to stop the commercialization of Golden Rice, due to safety issues. The potential threat of contamination and loss of rice biodiversity has spurred the farmers to intensify the campaign, culminating in the historic uprooting of the Golden Rice field trials in 2013.

Since then, the Golden Rice proponents have postponed the planned commercialization in 2014, citing need for further studies. In February 2017, however, the International Rice Research Instititute (IRRI) and its local counterpart the Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice) has again filed for field trials of Golden Rice, and for the direct use on food, feed and processing as well.

With the direct use applications, consumers are now also at risk, as the Golden Rice can be made available to the public for consumption without the necessary safety tests conducted to determine its possible health effects.

Golden Rice is useless and unnecessary

“The Golden Rice will have irreversible impacts to our health and our environment,” stated Cris Panerio, National Coordinator of MASIPAG and spokesperson for the Stop Golden Rice Network. “The campaign to stop Golden Rice has always been an issue for all the Filipinos and therefore we must all unite against the threat to our staple food.”

“What studies are available right now points out that Golden Rice will be more of a risk than a benefit,”said Dr. Chito Medina, environmental scientist. “In India, rice plants that have been bred with the Golden Rice showed abnormal growth that might affect the farmers’ cultivation. While an independent research body has reported that Golden Rice has very low beta-carotene content, necessitating a consumer to eat 1.6 kg of uncooked rice, roughly 4 kg of cooked rice to get the same amount of beta-carotene in a carrot.”

“Surely, these are grounds alone that Golden Rice is useless, and must be rejected,” said Dr. Nina Galang, Green Convergence convenor. “We already have alternative measures and programs that could address not only malnutrition but also ensure food and environmental safety.”

Even the National Nutrition Council (NNC) has stated during a recent dialogue on Golden Rice that as per data from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), the problem of VAD is declining (or stabilizing) using only the current government program to improve the nutrition status of the Filipinos.

CSOs call on govt regulators to reject Golden Rice

The NNC, along with other government agencies involved with the application of Golden Rice field trials and direct use met with more than 200 farmers, consumers, health advocates, women and youth groups during the Multi-stakeholders Dialogue on Golden Rice organized by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) last April 4, 2018. The dialogue sought to discuss comprehensively the implications of Golden Rice and raise concerns on the regulatory processes that govern the application.

“We are sorely disappointed with the responses of the government offices tasked to regulate GM crops. They are unable to give us full assurance that they will favour the welfare of the people over that of the proponents and corporate pushing Golden Rice,” said Antonio Flores of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). “We should already learn the bitter lesson from the Dengvaxia fiasco that these technologies and products should be assessed carefully because the consequences are fatal” added Flores.

The SGRN, RESIST Agrochem TNCs along with other organizations are urging NAPC to call on the concerned departments and regulatory bodies to deny the Golden Rice applications for field testing, feeding trials and direct use. The departments include the DA, DOH, DENR, DILG and the DOST. The five departments are tasked under the Joint Department Circular No. 1 of 2016 to ensure the right of the people on health and a balanced ecology are protected from possible impacts of genetically modified products.

“If not for the NAPC, we will not be able to get much information on the status of Golden Rice. However, after the said dialogue, we deem that there is enough basis to reject the application for Golden Rice. We are now seeking the support of the NAPC to urge the government regulators to immediately reject the said crop” said Panerio. “Golden Rice is a farmers’ and consumers’ rights that will affect the Filipino constituents therefore we must urge the government to act in favour of its peoples’ welfare.”

The network will launch anew a petition to stop the field testing and direct use of Golden Rice. The network is gearing to reach more sectors and government institutions to inform them about the application and the possible impacts of the said GM crop to health, environment and the rice industry.#

Stop Golden Rice Network Protest Against Golden Rice

On April 4, 2018, more than 500 farmers, consumers, academe, women and children sectors in the Philippines as well as international participants from Asia as well as New Zealand and Australia converged in front of the Department of Agriculture to call on the department to immediately scrap the application for open field test and direct use of Golden Rice in the Philippines.

Watch the video here.

The mobilization also coincides IRRI’s 58th year existence in the Philippines, in which protesters also called for the immediate closure of the said institute stating that farmers have become more indebted and poorer under IRRI’s Green Revolution program.

No to GMOs, No to Golden Rice!
IRRI Out Now!
Safe, Sufficient and Affordable Food for All!
Resist Agrochemical TNC Control in Food and Agriculture!

Panawagan ng mga Magsasaka at Mamimili sa Golden Rice: HUWAG MAGPATANSO SA PALAY NA GINTO!

Quezon City – “Huwag magpatanso sa palay na ginto!” Ito ang babala ng halos limang daang mga magsasaka at consumers na kalakhan ay mula pa sa rehiyon ng Bicol, Gitnang Luzon at Timog Katagalugan sa tanggapan ng Departamento ng Agrikultura.

“Nananawagan kami kay Sec Piñol na agad na ibasura ang aplikasyon para itesting ang Golden Rice sa ating mga palayan o ipakain sa ating mga mamamayan, lalo na sa mga bata at kababaihan. Hindi po mga daga ang ating mga kababayan para lamang bigyang-daan ang kagustuhan ng mga dayuhang korporasyon na ibenta ang kanilang GMOs sa ating bansa. Nililihis lamang ng Golden Rice ang panawagan ng mga mamamayan sa pagkamit ng sapat, ligtas at abot-kayang pagkain” ani ni Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos ng Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), isa sa mga convenor ng RESIST Agrochemical TNCs.

Ang Golden Rice ay isang tipo ng genetically modified organism o GMO na palay na artipisyal na lumilikha ng beta carotene, isang sangkap na nagiging Bitamina A, sa kanyang butil. Pagmamay-ari ito ng dambuhalang agrokemikal na kumpanyang Syngenta (na ngayon ay pagmamay-ari na ng kumpanyang Chemchina). Ang Golden Rice diumano ang solusyon sa kakulangan ng Bitamina A, isang uri ng malnutrisyon na nagdudulot ng pagkabulag o nagpapalala ng mga simpleng sakit na maaaring ikamatay ng sanggol o bata.

Gayunman, malaki ang pangamba ng mga magsasaka at mga consumers sa napipintong ‘approval’ ng aplikasyon ng Golden Rice. Ayon sa Philrice at IRRI, layon ng aplikasyon na itanim Golden Rice sa lantad na lugar (open field) sa Muñoz, Nueva Ecija at San Mateo, Isabela. Gayundin, balak ng nasabing mga ahensya na ipakain ang Golden Rice sa target na mga komunidad upang malaman kung may bisa ang Golden Rice sa pagpapababa ng kaso ng VAD.

Ayon kay Dr Gene Nisperos ng Health Alliance for Democracy, marami pang mga tanong at agam-agam hinggil sa Golden Rice. “Una, ang kakulangan ba sa Vitamin A ay nangangailangan ng bago at mahal na solusyon, samantalang marami nang mura at subok na paraan upang sugpuin ito? Ikalawa, kung ang Golden Rice ang sinasabing panlaban sa Vitamin A deficiency, ang Golden Rice ba ay isang pagkain o isang gamot?”

Nagbabala din si Dr Nisperos sa planong pagpapakain ng Golden Rice. Dahil Vitamin A Deficiency ang nais sugpuin, ang magiging target ng mga feeding trials ay mga bata at mga buntis, na siyang mga grupong bulnerable sa Vitamin A Deficiency. Maaaring humantong ito sa mga problemang gaya ng kinakaharap ng bansa sa Dengvaxia, kung saan daan libong mga bata ang tinurukan bagaman hindi pa tapos ang safety trial ng nasabing bakuna.

“Sa huling dayalogo kaharap ang mga taga-Philrice at DA, walang malinaw na sagot ang mga ahensya kung ligtas bang kainin ang Golden Rice.” Ani ni Dr. Nisperos. “Ngayon, bakit pinipilit ng mga ahensiyang ito na itanim na ang Golden Rice samantalang hindi man lang pala sigurado kung ligtas itong kainin?”

Dagdag ni Dr. Romeo Quijano, retiradong propesor sa Kolehiyo ng Medisina, UP Manila: “Marami nang siyentipikong pag-aaral ang nagpakita na maraming masamang epekto ang maaaring idulot ng pagkaing GMO sa kalusugan tulad ng: alergy, ulser, abnormalidad sa bituka, atay, lapay, baga, semilya ng lalaki, dugo, sistemang immune , sekswal, at iba pa. Ang panganib na dala ng mga nauna nang mga pagkaing GMO ay dala-dala rin ng GMO Rice at maaaring mas malala pa sapagka’t mas maraming manipulasyong genetik ang ginawa sa GMO Rice.”

Ayon naman kay Cristino Panerio, national coordinator ng Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura o MASIPAG, maaari mahawaan ng Golden Rice ang mga ating tradisyunal, katutubo at farmer-bred na varieties ng palay. “Malaki ang pagpapahalaga namin sa palay sapagkat ito ang pangunahing pagkain ng mga mamamayang Pilipino. Oras na pakawalan ang Golden Rice sa ating mga palayan, mahirap na itong i-recall sapagkat ito ay mga buhay na nilalang na may kakayanang magparami.”

Sa pag-aaral ng mga siyentista mula sa India, bagsak ang ani ng Golden Rice sapagkat binago nito ang kakayanan ng palay na lumikha ng butil. “Kapag itinanim ang Golden Rice, maaaring maipasa nito ang kanyang katangiang mababang umani sa iba pang palay. Problema na natin pag-aangkat ng palay mula sa ibang bansa, at maaaring dumagdag pa ang Golden Rice sa pagpapababa ng ating produksyon ng palay,” dagdag ni Panerio.

Nangangamba ang mga magsasaka sapagkat nitong taon ay dineklara ng Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) at ng Health Canada na diumano ay ligtas Golden Rice sa kalusugan. Ayon sa RESIST Agrochem TNCs, gagamitin ng IRRI at Philrice ang mga nasabing resulta upang mapabilis ang pag-apruba ng DA sa kanilang aplikasyon. Gayunman, naghain mismo ang mga civil society groups sa Australia, New Zealand at Canada ng reklamo hinggil sa nasabing approval.

Itinaon din ang nasabing mobilisasyon sa anibersaryo ng IRRI, bilang simbolo ng pagtutol ng mga magsasaka sa patuloy na pananatili ng nasabing institusyon sa ating bansa. Ayon kay Bert Autor, spokesperson ng SIKWAL-GMO at miyembro ng Kilusang Magbubukid sa Bicol, tanging ang mga malalaking kumpanyang agrokemikal ang nakikinabang sa pananatili ng IRRI sa bansa.
“Panahon na para ipasara ang IRRI sapagkat walang nakinabang dito kundi ang mga malalaking agrokemikal ng mga kumpanya. Kapag na-aprubahan itong Golden Rice, gagawin lamang nitong lehitimo ang pagmamay-ari ng mga kumpanya sa binhi.”

Pinangunahan ng SIKWAL-GMO ang matagumpay na pagbunot ng Golden Rice sa Pili, Camarines Sur noong Agosto 2013 bilang protesta nila sa field testing ng Golden Rice sa kanilang lugar.

Inaasahan ng mga delegado na matapos ang kanilang pagkilos ay haharapin sila ni DA Secretary Piñol. Kasama din sa nasabing dayalogo ang 40 foreign delegates mula sa international conference ng Stop Golden Rice Network na haharap kay Sec Piñol. Karamihan sa nasabing foreign delegates ay mula sa mga bansa sa Asya na maapektuhan ng komersyalisasyon ng Golden Rice gaya ng India, Bangladesh at Indonesia. Gayundin, may mga delegado mula sa bansa sa China, New Zealand at Australia na matindi ding tumututol sa Golden Rice.#

Watch video here.

Stop Golden Rice! Network International Conference 2018

An estimated 40 international delegates from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada participated the Stop Golden Rice! Network’s international conference on April 2-4, 2018.

The conferences aims to intensify the global campaign against Golden Rice and GMO commercialization.

Philippines’ participants from different civil society organizations — peasants, women, consumers, health, scientists, church groups, and public officials from local government agencies unite to defend our farmers’ rights, diversity, and sovereignty over rice genetic resources, and consumers’ rights to safe food against further corporate control.

The conference included the following highlights:

– Sharing and discussion on local and regional issues and campaign actions against Golden Rice and GMO trends.

– Consolidating and intensifying global campaign actions against Golden Rice.

Major networks and publications covered the press conference held during the first day of the conference.#

Source: ABS-CBN Bandila