Withdrawal of Monsanto's GM corn ordered by Philippines Ag Secretary (28/3/2007)

1.Yap acts on GMOs
2.Ban GMO food crops

EXTRACTS: BPI [the Bureau of Plant Industry] must withdraw its approval of these dangerous GMO food crops. - Manila Times editorial, 'Ban GMO food crops', March 23 2007 (item 2)

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap told this writer that he has ordered BPI to withdraw its approval for MON 863. - Manila Times, March 28 2007 (item 1)

GM WATCH comment: Some of those previously regarded as the most dependable (read: most supine) allies of the U.S. and its corporations are showing signs of having had enough.

First the Mexican Government caused consternation by blocking the US's GM-contaminated rice exports, now the Government of the Philippines seems to have moved against Monsanto's GM corn (MON863).


1.Yap acts on GMOs
by Dan Mariano
The Manila Times, March 28 2007

The March 21 edition of this column tackled the genetically modified corn marketed by the multinational Monsanto, MON 863 YieldGard Rootworm.

MON 863 is corn genetically manipulated to produce its own insecticide called "modified Cry3Bb1" that kill rootworm insects in the soil. It was approved for local distribution by the Bureau of Plant Industry in October 2003.

Independent scientific studies in France, however, found signs of "hepatorenal toxicity" in Monsanto's GM corn.

According to Greenpeace, the MON 863 case is the first time that a GMO product authorized for use as food for humans and animals was shown to have adverse effects on internal organs. "It is a clear warning of the inherent risks of GMOs," the environmental group added.

In a chance meeting last Friday, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap told this writer that he has ordered BPI [the Bureau of Plant Industry ] to withdraw its approval for MON 863. "There are other, less controversial seeds in the market," he added.

Yap has never given this corner reason to doubt his word - and his decision on MON 863 will probably be welcomed by Greenpeace and others.


2.Ban GMO food crops
The Manila Times, March 23 2007

To help solve the problems of hunger and poverty as well as to invigorate the economy with cheaper food products for both domestic consumption and export, the Philippine government has approved the use, planting and development of genetically modified food crops. The Bureau of Plant Industry has approved for direct use as human food, animal feed and for food-product processing 25 genetically modified food crops. Among these are corn, soybean, sugar beet, alfalfa, potato and cotton.

The United States is the foremost exponent of GMOs. Monsanto, the agribusiness transnational conglomerate, sells GM corn here and throughout the world.

Since they were first introduced GMOs have been opposed by many reliable and rigorously scientific bodies.

Even in church circles, no less than John Paul II, had warned against failing to "resist the temptation of high productivity and profit [by means] that work to the detriment of the respect of nature." He warned that when farmers "forget this basic principle and become tyrants of the earth rather than its custodians… sooner or later, the earth rebels." Pope Benedict XVI has not taken a stand and is letting pontifical institutes continue their evaluation work.

GMOs are a divisive issue in the Church. Bishops who wish to see hunger and poverty immediately alleviated favor the use of GMOs. They argue that there is a moral duty for Christians to eradicate hunger and use available technology to do so.

Others who give the highest value to the Christian obligation to respect the ecological balance and the Christian duty to prevent humanity's "suicide" want GMOs to be subjected to stricter studies.

Many African and South American churchmen are driven to oppose GMOs out of fear that these will prolong control of the world's food supply by the rich countries and their giant corporations (like Monsanto).

The use of GM crops in poor countries would then make poor farmers even poorer.

The present state of scientific studies about GMOs is that data are mainly contradictory. This being the case, the most authoritative statement about the subject from the Vatican, the 2004 Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, suggests that "it may then be appropriate to base evaluations on the precautionary principle."

Many scientists have offered studies to show that lots of things about GMOs demand precautionary measures. Others point out that remedial measures should now be taken because hazardous GMO crop pollens have in fact already infected native species. This alarm has been sounded in the Philippines.

Earlier this month, Greenpeace and Professor Gilles Eric Seralini, a government expert in genetic engineering with the University of Caen in France, held a press conference in Berlin to reveal that Seralini's team has discovered that Monsanto's GMO corn - MON 863 - poses a direct threat to humans. Seralini questioned Monsanto's analyses of MON 863, which was used as a basis for its approval. He said Monsanto's analyses do not stand up to rigorous scrutiny. "To begin with, their statistical protocols are highly questionable."

Greenpeace demanded the complete and immediate withdrawal of MON 863 corn from the global market and is asking governments to reassess all the genetically engineered products they have approved.

Professor Seralini's panel of scientists found that laboratory rats fed with MON 863 YieldGard Rootwom displayed kidney and liver toxicity.

MON 863 is corn genetically engineered to produce its own insecticide called "modified Cry3Bb1" to kill rootworm insects in the soil. It contains gene coding for antibiotic resistance.

"New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity," the French study was published in the scientific journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (www.springerlink.com/content/1432-0703).

The European Commission (EC) granted Mosanto the license it sought to market MON 863 for consumption by both humans and animals.

Greenpeace obtained incriminating data owing to a court case and worked to have Professor Seralini and his team evaluate and investigate the matter.

Our columnist, Dan Mariano, has quoted Daniel Ocampo, the Greenpeace Southeast Asia genetic engineering campaigner, as saying: "This case is especially significant to the Philippines right now in the light of the Bureau of Plant Industry's claims [in mid March] that they enforce stringent regulatory systems for the approval of GMOs."

BPI must withdraw its approval of these dangerous GMO food crops.

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