Tag Archives: GMOs

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. #

Farmers declare GM Free Farms on World Consumers Day

On the occasion of World Consumers Day, farmers, scientists and consumers challenged the national government to promote safe, sufficient and affordable food by repealing the Rice Tariffication law and stop the planned commercialization of GMO Rice or Golden Rice. Farmers, who are consumers as well, will bear the brunt of these new policies and programs in the rice sector.

As a response, farmers in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao declared their farms GM Free by setting-up signages in their plots and gardens. It is hoped that more farmers and consumers will follow suit by declaring their farms GM Free due to the possible introduction of Golden Rice, a GM crop slated for commercialization in the country. Farmers and consumers are also gearing up for the possible impacts to rice price and incomes brought about by the unlimited importation of rice from other countries.

Last July 18 and 20, 2018, a public consultation was held at the City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija and San Mateo, Isabela wherein Philrice has asked for the Local Government Unit for the approval of the field testing of the said GM crop in their areas. Golden Rice is genetically modified with genes from bacteria and corn for the crop to produce beta carotene. Proponents said that Golden Rice will be used to address Vitamin A deficiency among women and children.It is now geared to be made available to farmers and consumers.

However, questions on safety, efficacy and necessity of Golden Rice are persistent. Despite the agrochemical industry, IRRI and the Golden Rice proponents’ claim, the safety of genetic engineering remains disputed with negative experiences from laboratories, people’s health and farms are piling up.

Mr Cris Panerio, National Coordinator of Farmers and Scientist for the Development of Agriculture (MASIPAG), pointed that because Golden Rice is genetically modified, it may produce unintended effects to those who will eat it. “No independent safety test was done to first establish its potential for allergenicity or toxicity. Worse, to determine if Golden Rice will deliver Vitamin A, efficacy tests will be conducted among the Filipino women and children after Golden Rice is approved by government regulators.”

Meanwhile, President Durterte recently approved the Rice Tariffication Law. It assures the lifting of importation restriction by focusing on increasing rice imports thereby impacting the local agriculture sector. The said law would also expose the country’s vulnerability to higher world market prices and volatile rice production of other countries. Furthermore, opening the country to rice imports amid a weakening local agriculture could also worsen the already poor situation of Filipino rice producers.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) slammed this law. In a press statement, the group said that the law “is equivalent to death sentence for the local rice industry and rice farmers. The law will directly affect 13.5 million palay farmers and their families, 17.5 millon farm workers, 20,000 rice retailers and more then 10 million Filipinos consumers dependent on NFA rice.” While the government promises for cheaper rice, the Php 27 per kilo of rice being sold by the NFA will be phased out leaving consumers at the mercy of the unstable rice price in the market.

Unsafe, patented food, and neoliberal measures is aggressively forcing their way to settle in the county amid the strong and growing community resistance from farmers, consumers and many other groups. Panerio said, “widespread poverty continues to be a big problem in the country and Filipino children continue to be afflicted by various forms of malnutrition. We need a viable agriculture program to address this problem”. Panerio also added, “by developing resilient and bountiful food-production system based on sustainable agriculture is one way to food security. Thru sustainable and organic agriculture production, farmers can benefit from this thru lesser costs in inputs and seeds. Local marketing and processing of products also increases farmers incomes. However, resources such as land, seed, water and appropriate technologies are needed for food security to be achieved. The Philippines should also consider its stand on the World Trade Organization – Agreement on Agriculture’s prescription on our agricultural policies and programs.”

Continuous protest actions are planned to prevent the commercialization of Golden Rice and to junk the Rice Tariffication Law.

Photos of farmers in their GM-Free Farms can be found here, here and here. ##

Beware of the GMO trap! Golden Rice release in Bangladesh a marketing tool for GMOs

Press Release

 


February 13 – The impending release of Golden Rice in Bangladesh will signal the surge of more genetically modified food threatening local and traditional agriculture systems, asserted Stop Golden Rice Network (SGRN), an Asia wide farmers’, consumers’ and activists network asserted.

According to SGRN, a network of more than 30 organizations in South and Southeast Asia, the genetically modified Golden Rice will not address the issue of Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) rather create more problems for the poor. The fundamental, underlying cause of these deficiencies is undiversified, low quality diet that tangled with unavailability and inaccessibility of diversified food especially among low income family that cannot be fix with techno-fixes like Golden Rice.

“Proponents are using Golden Rice not as solution to micronutrient deficiency, but as a marketing tool for other GMOs that will only benefit the agrochemical companies that develop them,” said Cris Panerio, National Coordinator of MASIPAG and lead convenor of SGRN. “Promoted as a ‘humanitarian’ project, Golden Rice will try to condition the acceptance of the people to unsafe and unnecessary crops.”

Despite having a near-insignificant amount of beta-carotene, Golden Rice is heralded as the solution to VAD prevalent among children and women in developing countries such as Bangladesh and the Philippines. In its 2018 approval, the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) concluded that “the level of beta-carotene in Golden Rice is too low to warrant a nutrient content claim.” Sweet potato that can even be grown in non-arable highlands of Bangladesh has almost 50 times higher beta-carotene level compared to Golden Rice.

“The Ministry of Agriculture in Bangladesh cites the safety approvals of Golden Rice from US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and expect people to accept Golden Rice based from that merit,” said Shibli Anowar of the Labour Resource Center (LRC) Bangladesh. “Yet they ignore this glaring admission of the potential failure of Golden Rice and knowingly put at stake the health and the lives of our children and mothers.”

LRC, along with Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Bangladesh Bhumihin Samity, Bangladesh Kishani Sabha and Bangladesh Adivasi Samity are holding a human chain and demonstration today at the National Press Club in Dhaka to express their apprehensions with the planned release of Golden Rice.

“There are plenty of vegetables and fruits in our country which are rich in Vitamin A, especially yellow and green vegetables and fruits,” added Anowar. “There is no need for Golden Rice.”

Golden Rice is also slated to be field-tested in the Philippines, while recent reports indicate that it will be widely propagated in Bangladesh soon. However, concerns remain on the lack of credible and independent safety studies, transparency and public participation. Regulatory processes are flawed and appear to lean on accommodating and facilitating the approvals of Golden Rice rather than serving to ensure the safety of the public and the environment.

A strategy to introduce more GMOs

A 2018 CGIAR document shows the various crops that have been biofortified to express vitamins and nutrients and the target countries where it will be released. These include Golden Rice which is expected to be commercialized this 2019 in Bangladesh.  And following in the pipeline high-zinc rice are planned to be release in 2020 along with few other biofortified crops such as vitamin A sweet potato, zinc wheat and iron-rich lentils.

“Ultimately, the CGIAR aims for releasing its 3-in-1 transgenic rice that is supposedly high in Vitamin A, iron and zinc,” said Kartini Samon, Researcher from GRAIN. “This could further push for public acceptance to genetically modified crops and erode our food diversity and our local and traditional seeds and increase corporate control to our agriculture system.”

“It is a business strategy which will wipe out the farmers’ seeds and be replaced with commercial ones that are still untested and have the potential to produce long-term problems in agriculture,” said Panerio. “The Golden Rice Trojan Horse must be stopped at all costs.”

“Farmers’ seeds, land and rights are being snatched away because multinational companies want farmers to be dependent on them for seeds,” said Anowar. “As a result, the process of preserving and producing the own seeds of the farmers will be disrupted. Farmers will lose their sovereignty over traditional seeds.”

“The release of Golden Rice and other GMO crops in a country rich in fertile and biodiversity like Bangladesh will bring nothing but destruction of farmers and agriculture.”

The Stop Golden Rice Network stresses that Golden Rice is a simplistic solution to the complex problem of hunger and malnutrition. “Farmers from the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and other rice-growing countries are in solidarity with the Bangladesh farmers on rejecting the commercialization plan of Golden Rice. Poverty and genuine development must be addressed to ensure that the people have access to diversified, safe and healthy food, and sustainable livelihood. We must resist Golden Rice together as a global community and assert our food sovereignty.” #

Reference:

Shibli Anowar
Labour Resource Center
Bangladesh
labourrce@gmail.com

Cris Panerio
Lead Convenor, Stop Golden Rice Network
Philippines
cpanerio@masipag.org, stopgrnetwork@gmail.com

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!