Greenpeace Hits DA for Flip-Flop on GMO Corn

Mar. 31, 2007

The environment group Greenpeace today lambasted the Department of Agriculture for allegedly flip-flopping on an earlier order revoking the authorization for the use of a genetically modified corn called MON863, which the group has found to be toxic. Mindanao is the country’s largest corn producer where many of these GMOs have been cultivated.

MANILA — Greenpeace today (March 31) slammed what they called the
Department of Agriculture’s (DA) “dangerous do-nothing policy” on the
looming threat of GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) contaminating
the country’s food crops.

The condemnation came as the DA backtracked on Secretary Arthur Yap’s
earlier statement to revoke the authorization of the GMO corn MON863
issued due to a new study which found the GMO to be toxic to the liver
and kidneys. Greenpeace is now concerned that the DA’s careless attitude
toward evident health and environmental risks from GMOs will have
implications on the DA’s current review of the GMO rice Bayer LL62 whose
safety is also under question.

“In an unexplained turnaround from their earlier statement, the DA is
now upholding their permit to Monsanto for the GMO corn MON863 despite
existing concerns on the GMO’s health risks which Secretary Yap earlier
acknowledged,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Genetic Engineering
Campaigner Daniel Ocampo. “Perhaps corporate forces have prevailed over
Secretary Yap’s momentary lapse into good reason. Let’s hope the DA
regains its senses soon so that this does not bode ill for the future of
rice in our country when they make the decision currently pending on the
GMO rice Bayer LL62.”

The DA retracted their earlier disapproval of the GMO corn MON863 in a
formal letter faxed to Greenpeace yesterday. The letter, signed by
Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Officer-In-Charge Mr. Joel Rudinas,
additionally states that no action has also been done on another GMO,
Bayer LL601, illegal in the Philippines, and which also carries inherent
health risks. Bayer LL601, was detected by Greenpeace in the brand
“Uncle Sam Texas Long Grain Rice” last November 2006. In February this
year the National Food Authority (NFA) stated that the BPI will conduct
its own GMO testing on the rice. Rudinas’ letter revealed however that
no testing has yet been undertaken. The reason: they are ‘relying’ on
Bayer to provide them with the testing kit. The kit has yet to be
delivered. In the meantime, Greenpeace says, the BPI seems content to
sit and wait, regardless of the serious consequences that will come later.

“The DA’s do-nothing policy on GMO threats is not only dangerous but
also extremely suspect, reeking as it does of tactics to delay and
conceal decisions which would have profound implications on the safety
and future of our food and the environment,” said Ocampo. “The DA must
acknowledge the dangers posed by GMOs, and reassess and repeal the
authorization of all GMO crops and products in the country.”

“Greenpeace maintains that no GMO has ever been proven safe for human
consumption and the risks these manipulated organisms pose to the
environment and human health are simply unacceptable. GMOs threaten
biodiversity, food security, farmers’ livelihoods, and consumers’
choice. Clearly, GMOs are not a sound basis for the a future of
sustainable agriculture grounded on the principles of sustainability and
biodiversity, and which provides all people access to safe and
nutritious food,” he added.

For more information:
Daniel Ocampo, GE campaigner, +63 917 897 6416
Lea Guerrero, Media Campaigner, +63 2 434 7034 loc 104, +63 916 374 4969

Notes to the Editor:
MON863 is corn genetically-manipulated to produce its own insecticide
called ‘modified Cry3Bb1’ to kill rootworm insects in the soil, and to
contain gene coding for antibiotic resistance. A study entitled ‘New
Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize
Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity,’ published earlier this month in
the scientific journal “Archives of Environmental Contamination and
Toxicology” shows that significant health risks were associated with the
GMO corn despite its approval in the European Union.

Both Bayer LL62 and LL601 are rice genetically-manipulated to resist the
powerful weed-killer glufosinate which is meant to be used in
conjunction with the said GMO crops and has been observed to cause
adverse health effects. LL62 and LL601 are not approved anywhere in the
world except in the US where risk assessments for GMOs are considered
inadequate and not in line with internationally accepted norms by the UN
FAO and WHO. Both rice strains currently face global consumer rejection.

[tags]davao today, greenpeace, GMO, genetically modified corn, MON863, bayer, philippines, agriculture [/tags]

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