MASIPAG on Marcos’ IRRI Visit

January 18, 2023

by MASIPAG National Office

LOS BANOS, LAGUNA | Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) enjoins everyone to keep vigilant with regards to the visit of President Marcos to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) last November 29, 2022.

Since coming into power last May, President Marcos Jr. has been consistent with his pronouncement to revive his father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. ‘s highly backward, anti-farmer, and environmentally destructive agricultural programs namely Green Revolution and MASAGANA 99 whereas IRRI served as the programs’ resource institution.

During the 1970s, no thanks to the president’s late father, IRRI’s power has become so pervasive and perverse that it can easily quash any suggestion for alternative rice technologies and dictate its own selfish preferences.

“Many Filipino scientists at that time have been advocating the use of organic materials and biological controls as alternatives to the highly toxic and costly IRRI-prescribed chemicals but unfortunately, IRRI has chosen to block these efforts because it would ‘kill’ the agri-transnational corporations and local capitalists’ trade of chemical fertilizers where IRRI served and still continuously serve as the open door for them here in our country.

To add injury to the insult, by 1984, IRRI released a memo recommending pesticides which had been banned in the West due to their highly toxic properties.” said Alfie Pulumbarit, MASIPAG national coordinator.

“After MASAGANA 99 was scrapped, our state of agriculture was in shambles thanks to its High Yielding Variety (HYVs) rice seeds that IRRI created and distributed to our farmers. Most of our indigenous, traditional and farmer bred varieties were eradicated and replaced by IRRI’s HYV, in return, our local ecosystem and biodiversity was severely degraded due to genetic uniformity of these seeds and the constant damping of chemical inputs in order for them to survive.

Clearly, IRRI and Marcos’ Sr. attempt to “modernize” our rice production at that time failed, and it was at the expense of our Filipino farmers and the country’s food security.” added Pulumbarit.

Today, backed by philantro-capitalists such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that aims to corporatize agriculture, IRRI remains as one of the top private institutions that still proliferate the failed and highly destructive and poisonous Green Revolution technology around the world.

Here in the Philippines, IRRI, in collaboration with PhilRice, has been stubbornly propagating Golden Rice in our country despite numerous rigorous scientific studies declaring that it has the same danger that their HYVs inflicted on our economy and rice biodiversity.

“Collaborating once again with IRRI to address the present food insecurity is the equivalent of historical revisionism of the dark 1970s’ Green Revolution that Marcos Sr. and IRRI facilitated. They may sanitize and manipulate the dark history of the Green Revolution and IRRI by appealing to “science” that clearly only serves the agenda of the wealthy few but then can never mend the growing food scarcity and hunger of the people. It will only get worse, not unless we shut down IRRI and convince our duty bearers to genuinely support our local farmers and agriculture” said Pulumbarit.

As President Marcos Jr. clearly vows his head to the big players behind the corporatization of agriculture by meeting with IRRI today, MASIPAG enjoins everyone to remain vigilant in the further distortion not only of our history but also of our food system and agriculture. MASIPAG likewise reiterates our call for a just, sustainable and farmer-centered food system.

Uphold rice research and development by and for the farmers!