FOCUS ON ASIA'S RESISTANCE - The Philippines
Much of the following material is taken from GM WATCH's new *FOCUS on ASIA* resource and the included links http://www.lobbywatch.org/p1temp.asp?pid=42&page=1
1.Introduction: GM crops
2.FEATURED RESISTANCE GROUP: Masipag
3.SOME OF THE OTHER GROUPS OPPOSING GMOS IN THE PHILIPPINES
4.ARTICLES from the Philippines
- GMOs derail food security
- More protests against Monsanto
- IMMUNOLOGICAL REACTION TO Bt TOXIN
Commercial approval for the cultivation of Monsanto's Bt corn was granted in December 2002 despite fierce opposition, including a protracted hunger strike, from farmers' organisations, environmentalists and sections of the Catholic Church. Subsequent concerns about a possible link of Bt-corn farming to outbreaks of illness in the Philippines have been the subject of scientific research. (see item 3 below)
Pressure to accept GM crop production has come not just from the biotech industry and its lobbyists, backed by the US, but also from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) which is located in Los Banos, Laguna, about 60 kilometers south of the Philippine capital, Manila. Here Golden Rice is among the GM crops under development.
2.FEATURED RESISTANCE GROUP
MASIPAG is short for Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) or the Farmers-Scientists Partnership for Development.
It's a farmer-led network in the Philippines of people's organizations, non-government organizations 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 is a product of its own time. It was born out of necessity to critically respond to glaring spread of rural poverty and has evolved as the farmers' challenge to the Philippine government and IRRI [International Rice Research Institute] to respond to the real situation and need of Filipino small farmers" after the failure of the Green Revolution.
3.SOME OF THE OTHER GROUPS OPPOSING GMOS IN THE PHILIPPINES
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas
i.GMOs derail food security - analysis from the Philippines (10 August 2004)
ii.More protests against Monsanto in the Philippines
iii.PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF STUDY SHOW IMMUNOLOGICAL REACTION TO Bt TOXIN
i.Upshot: GMOs derail food security
By BV Lopez
Business World, Philippines
The issues of health safety and environment in genetically modified organisms (GMOs) used in agriculture, although important, are really secondary from a geopolitical view. It is the issue of control by foreign multinationals (MNCs) of Third World self-reliance in food production and the issue of food security which has a deeper impact. Small agrarian countries like the Philippines will easily be meek lambs ready for the slaughterhouse if foreigners controlled food production and used it as a geopolitical tool for economic and political ends.
Once GMOs proliferate, agriculture will become totally dependent on the MNCs [multinational corporations] for their GMO seeds, a dangerous technological monopoly which may be irreversible. Most MNCs going to GMOs today are in the red, and in their despair, they expect to be saved only by the staggering windfall from their monopoly over GMO seeds. Their targets are the critical basic staples such as rice, corn, and sweet potatoes, which makes it more scary.
"In Uganda, conventional breeding (of sweet potatoes) has produced a high-yielding variety more quickly and more cheaply" than GM varieties, hinting of the monopolistic overpricing practice of MNCs. After three years, in the same protracted but failed project in Kenya with a staggering investment of about $6 million financed by Monsanto, the World Bank, and the US government, sweet potatoes modified to resist a virus "were no less vulnerable than ordinary varieties."
Yet the PR was way ahead of projected milestones. Project leader Dr. Florence Wambugu branded it a "resounding scientific success" and an "agricultural revolution in Africa" in spite of its utter failure to resist the virus. (New Scientist, Vol. 181, No. 2433, 7 February 2004).
The greatest PR ploy of the GMO MNCs is the "food for the hungry" line and "food security" when the effects of GMOs are the exact opposite. In India, Syngenta's GMO rice is being blamed "for destroying the livelihoods of the peasants ... destroying sustainable agricultural systems in Asia. This is leading to food insecurity and causes hunger in Asia." GMO causes food insecurity by derailing "appropriate technologies such as organic farming called System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and other ecological methods, that have been proven highly productive without using ... hybrids, or GE seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides."
Thus, the Indian farmers reply, "We do not need corporations such as Syngenta to feed us." (Pesticide Action Network/PAN, 27 April 2004).
Controlling seed banks and plant genetic resources is a key GMO MNC strategy. In the Cordilleras, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), a known GMO MNC supporter, angered locals by collecting rice seeds for years for their gene banks without giving back anything. I wonder if IRRI is willing to share its seed bank with Filipinos from whom they got it. Or is it "patented" for future monopoly?
In India, Syngenta "attempted to control the whole gene bank of Indira Gandhi Agricultural University, which held 24,000 rice samples in trust." Their partnership soured when the university started smelling a rat after Syngenta requested for the gene bank to be transferred to its laboratories.
The next step after gene-banking is patenting. "Since (Syngenta) announced the successful sequencing of the rice genome in early 2002, it has become obvious that parts of the genome have now been patented." (PAN). In other words, after "stealing" the species from Third World resources, it now claims "ownership" of modified versions for exclusive sale through patents. They do not pay royalty on the sources of their sequencing or share ownership or patents. They may own the technology, but not the inputs or the original genes.
The EU hates GMO, that is why MNCs have gone to the Third World countries which are easier preys. China is going GMO because it can see the US as the huge GMO market, focusing on three key crops - soybean, corn, and cotton. It also foresees local shortages, especially in soy bean.
Which are the institutions behind the global proliferation of GMOs? These are the very international lenders which give us loans and grants. USAID, the World Bank-financed Monsanto's sweet potato fiasco in Kenya. The hidden global agenda of these lenders, together with the US government, is to support the MNCs, whose ultimate sources of funds are the MNCs themselves. It is the entire confluence of rich countries undermining poor nations on a worldwide scale. The US government, because of the powerful lobby of the GMO MNCs, is the single biggest prime mover of GMOs and its obsession is global proliferation.
This is the reason MNCs have all the money for expensive PR programs in the Third World. They set up pseudo-farmer associations to articulate and justify their campaigns, to give a false picture of consensus. Their media clout is extensive. There is a huge but s
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