Farmer-scientist organization MASIPAG has vehemently condemned the railroaded decision by the Philippine Department of Agriculture to allow the commercial propagation of GMO Golden Rice and has called on small farmers and consumers across the country to mount a protest against the decision.
Department of Agriculture Bureau of Plant Industry Director, George Culaste, hastily approved the permit for Golden Rice’s commercial propagation on July 21. With its magnitude and relevance to public health, networks such as the Stop Golden Rice! Network Philippines (SGRN) highlighted the lack of independent, comprehensive or substantial risk and impact assessments for the approval process.
MASIPAG stated that there is no need for GMO Golden Rice and added that during the global pandemic malnutrition is primarily caused by lack of access to sufficient, nutritious and safe food due to poverty, inaccessibility, and changing food production and consumption patterns as supported by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s report, State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World.
MASIPAG also highlighted 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 will 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, noted that “the billions spent on the Golden Rice project would have been put into better use if it was utilized for genuine support to diversify the 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 research being pushed by huge transnational corporations and philanthrocapitalists such as multi-billionaire Bill Gates who are behind the push for further corporatization of global food systems”
“It is very disturbing, with the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit looming, corporate interests are dominating our farmland and plates with profit-oriented produce. And small farmers, the urban poor, women and children are bearing the brunt of the problem. We call on the Dept of Agriculture Secretary William Dar to immediately cancel the decision of the DA-BPI and heed the call of 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,” Panerio concluded.