Farmer-scientist organization Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) vehemently condemns the railroaded decision by the Department of Agriculture to commercially propagate Golden Rice and calls on small farmers and consumers across the country to mount protest against the said decision.
Not less than a year from the 60-day public comment period launched by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to collate necessary feedback from the public, Department of Agriculture- Bureau of Plant Industry Director George Culaste hastily approved the permit for Golden Rice’ commercial propagation last July 21, 2021. With its magnitude and relevance to public interest, networks such as the Stop Golden Rice! Network Philippines (SGRN) highlighted the lack of independent, comprehensive, and substantial risk and impact assessments of the approval process and also the overall lack of transparency of GR’s proponents regarding its findings and reports.
Under the Joint Department Circular 1 of 2016 of the Department of Agriculture for the adoption of GM crops, application for the commercial propagation of Golden Rice must be assessed, reviewed, and approved by the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health, and Department of Interior and Local Government. However, under different queries made by SGRN, no substantial review process and independent risk assessments to health, cultural and socio economic impact was made under the Joint Department Circular’s process.
MASIPAG asserts that there is no need for Golden Rice, more so, in the pandemic situation, maintains that malnutrition is primarily caused by lack of access to sufficient, nutritious and safe food due to poverty, inaccessibility, and the changing food production and consumption patterns as supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation’s report, State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World. MASIPAG highlights that the promotion of a single-crop diet, as a band-aid solution to Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD), will follow the Green Revolution’s legacy of dominant crops destroying diet diversity and the destruction of farmlands due to extensive chemical inputs and monocropping. Golden Rice would also hasten the shift of farmers control of seeds to huge transnational corporations which to date are earning billions of dollars on the privatization of seeds.
Condemning the approval, MASIPAG National Coordinator Cris Panerio notes, “the billions spent on the Golden Rice project would have been put into better use if it was utilized for genuine support to diverse local production of food. It seems that the hasty approval of the Golden Rice commercial propagation permit is in tandem with the general trend of fast tracked approval and launching of different GM projects and researches being pushed by huge transnational corporations and philanthrocapitalists such as multi-billionaire Bill Gates who are behind the push for further corporatization of the global food systems”
“It is very disturbing, with the incoming UN Food Systems Summit, corporate interest attempts to dominate our farmlands and plates with profit-oriented produce. And small farmers, the urban poor, the women and children are bearing the brunt of the problem. We call on Dept of Agriculture Secretary William Dar to immediately junk the decision of the DA-BPI and heed the call of the small farmers and consumers. Time and again we are reminding the DA that rice is the country’s staple crop. Genetically modifying our staple food would put the health, food security and livelihoods of our farmers at grave risk. There is no gold in golden rice” he adds.
On Monday, small farmers, consumers and sectoral groups will hold protest actions against the UNFSS which will start its three day pre-conference sessions on July 27, 2021 in Rome, Italy.