Resistance and Solidarity against Agrochemical Transnational Corporations (RESIST) successfully mounted “Six Days of Action to Shut Down IRRI” from March 29 to April 3. The series of social media protest is in response to the 60th founding anniversary of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). With its primary goal to inform and educate the broad masses on the “Six Lies” of IRRI, the campaign was welcomed and joined by different regional formations and individuals from different parts of Asia.
Spearheaded by one of RESIST’s founding organization, Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG), the online campaign garnered traction of netizens support despite the lockdown.
“The on-going lockdowns due to the pandemic posed a challenge for us to hold the protest action. However, it is vital to continue because, actually, the very situation that we are in – lack of food security during the quarantine – can be, in many ways, attributed to the existence of IRRI and kind of agriculture and food system it perpetuated. The protest must continue.” said MASIPAG. The protest “successfully navigated the democratic space in the digital sphere.”
The protest started on March 29, the yearly Day of the Landless, where an online petition to #ShutDownIRRI was crafted. It is a signature campaign that successfully garnered 102/100 signatures in the duration of the 6-day protest.
An online campaign by PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) to #ThankYouFarmers was also conducted. This photo campaign aimed to show appreciation to and highlight how farmers provide us with food and other necessary resources.
On the second day, Feeding Lies was streamed at MASIPAG page. It is a documentary on how the International Rice Research Institution (IRRI) gave rise to corporate control of the world’s most staple food. Audience from different organizations joined the watch party that day.
A zoom webinar was held on the third day. Dr. Chito Medina, Philippine’s foremost organic agriculture scientist, gave an insightful talk on “IRRI, Food Insecurity and People’s Right to Food.” The online seminar was attended by individuals and organizations in the Southeast Asia region.
The nation commemorated the bloody Kidapawan Massacre, where three farmers died while 116 were injured. The nation cried “Bigas, Hindi Bala” (Rice grain, not bullets) as various organizations called for the much-elusive justice for farmers who were victims of various state-sponsored violence.
A digital folio was launched on the fifth day. “From Farms to the Frontlines: Figures under Quarantine” explored the question of connecting urban and rural experience despite isolated spaces with artworks depicting struggles and victories of our farmers amid the global pandemic COVID-19. Around 30+ artists contributed their artworks.
The six lies of IRRI were exposed on the last day of the campaign. These lies that IRRI perpetuated against the people and the environment caused damaging impacts on the way we view agriculture up to this day.
Also in the last day, a photo campaign entitled “Selfie for Food Security” was launched. Individuals posed with placards calling for food security amid COVID-19 and uploaded their photos in different social media platforms.