Farmer-led network condemns William Dar’s railroading of Golden Rice’s implementation in the country

April 8, 2022

by MASIPAG National Office

In an event yesterday organized by the United States Department of Agriculture, the Philippine Rice Research Institute announced the approval of Golden Rice’s application for varietal registration under the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC) despite the constant and legitimate calls from farmers, scientists, consumers and concerned citizens to prohibit the entry of Golden Rice. 

MASIPAG has long been reiterating the irreversible harms of GM technology found in Golden Rice in the local biodiversity due to it being genetically contagious thus putting the country’s local and indigenous rice varieties at risk of extinction. With the approval of NSIC for the varietal registration of Golden Rice now in full go, proponents and pushers of it can now freely distribute the highly genetically contagious Golden Rice to farmers and seed growers. 

In a recent visit of MASIPAG in one of Golden Rice pilot deployment site, the team learned that although the Department of Agriculture has been conducting consultations with the target seed growers and farmers, little to no information has been given with regards to basic information on the technology and its environmental and economic safety nets should the irreversible gene contamination happen. 

Moreover, MASIPAG and its ally consumers and small entrepreneurs advocating for an affordable, safe, organic and nutritious food for all strongly condemns Department of Agriculture secretary William Dar for railroading the entry of Golden Rice in the country. “It’s highly suspicious that the approval of NSIC to golden rice’s varietal registration has been this ridiculously quick despite the pending appeal to revoke its biosafety permits that we filed in the Department of Agriculture and the undeniable wide public opposition to its implementation” said Cris Panerio, lead appellant and former MASIPAG National Coordinator.

“William Dar obviously has been railroading the entry of golden rice in the country ever since its formal announcement of commercial propagation last year. This act screams Dar’s fear that by following the necessary and adequate steps and consultations of its approval that were stated by the laws and different regulatory processes and recommended safety tests by farmers and scientists, Golden Rice will be deemed as unnecessary and ultimately be disapproved of entry in the country. We challenge William Dar to engage in a fair fight and acknowledge the farmers’ call.” Alfie Pulumbarit, MASIPAG National Coordinator added. 

Target households and communities in one of the pilot deployment sites of Golden Rice told MASIPAG that they have yet to be comprehensively informed by the government about Golden Rice. According to one of its citizens, they were just told by government representatives that Golden Rice will be given for free.

Moreover, the same with its propagation, health insurance and safety nets were also not mentioned in the said consultation, making the government unaccountable should there be negative effects of Golden Rice when consumed. Scientific studies have yet to have a concrete understanding on how Golden Rice affects the human body as even animal consumption trials have not even been done. Yet William Dar is hellbent on feeding Golden Rice implicitly making the Filipino people as the guinea pigs for this dangerous rice technology. 

The approval of Golden Rice only shows William Dar and the Department of Agriculture’s high disregard for the welfare of the farmers and consumers as it effectively dismisses and deprives them of genuine participation in agriculture and food production.

“Aside from railroading golden rice’s entry in the country, this kind of attitude that William Dar and the Department of Agriculture has been showing is a living testament that their priority is profit and welfare of philantro-capitalists, agro-chemical corporations, and the United States Government–the same attitude that the Duterte administration has been showing with its fast approval of neoliberal policies such as 100% foreign ownership of public utilities. Dar and Duterte’s legacy as they both end their terms is to secure the wealth of these few entities and not to the Filipino people.” said Pulumbarit.

MASIPAG, a nationwide farmer-scientist network along with several non-government organizations (NGOs) advocating for a farmer-led sustainable and organic agriculture calls for the immediate disapproval of Golden Rice’s varietal registration. Moreover, the farmer-led network calls for the revocation of Golden Rice’s biosafety permits and its implementation at the local and municipal level.

MASIPAG stands with its assertion that the problem of malnutrition that the golden rice promises to solve can only be answered by transforming agriculture that places farmers at the center of it–promoting organic and sustainable agriculture anchored in the principles of farmer-led agroecology ultimately achieving accessible, safe, adequate and nutritious food for all.###

Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura or MASIPAG is a farmer-led network of people’s organizations, NGOs and scientists working towards the sustainable use and management of biodiversity through farmers’ control of genetic and biological resources, agricultural production and associated knowledge.

MASIPAG’s Press Release during the filing of appeal at the Department of Agriculture:

MASIPAG’s Press Release last April 4 in line with IRRI’s Anniversary:

On Golden Rice, “what they tell and do not tell you”: