Gov't of Philippines backs down on GM corn (31/3/2007)

So who calls the shots in the Philippines?
1.Agriculture Secretary orders withdrawal of approval for MON863 - March 28 2007
2.Greenpeace hits DA's 'turnaround' on MON863
- March 31 2007
3.Greenpeace statement welcoming the withdrawal of the approval of MON863 - March 30 2006
1.Agriculture Secretary orders withdrawal of approval

'...Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap told this writer that he has ordered BPI [the Bureau of Plant Industry] to withdraw its approval for MON 863. Yap has never given this corner reason to doubt his word.' - Dan Mariano, The Manila Times, March 28 2007
2.Greenpeace hits DA's 'turnaround' on toxic GMO
GMANews.TV, March 31 2007

International environmental group Greenpeace scored on Saturday the alleged inaction of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on the entry to the country of genetically modified corn found to be toxic to the liver and kidney.

In a statement, Greenpeace said DA's 'do-nothing policy' on genetically modified organisms (GMO) is 'dangerous'. The group said the DA 'backtracked' on Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap's earlier statement revoking the authorization of GMO corn MON863.

Greenpeace said MON863 is a genetically-manipulated corn that produces its own insecticide. The group said the insecticide contains gene coding for antibiotic resistance and kills root worm insects in the soil.

The group said that a study titled 'New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity,' showed that MON863 is associated with significant health risks.

The study was published in the scientific journal 'Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology', early this month, Greenpeace said.

'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 GMOs health risks which Secretary Yap earlier acknowledged,' said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Genetic Engineering campaigner Daniel Ocampo.
3.Greenpeace statement on the withdrawal of the approval of the GMO MON 863
Friday, March 30 2007

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Arthur Yap this week stated that he ordered the disapproval of genetically-modified corn MON 863 which an independent study released earlier this month in France revealed to show signs of liver and kidney toxicity.

Press Release

Greenpeace Genetic-Engineering Campaigner Daniel Ocampo said:

'Secretary Yap's statement to withdraw the approval of genetically-modified corn, MON 863, shows that the administration is waking up to the dangers posed by genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). Following his statement, the Secretary should act on it immediately. The logical next step for the DA is to assure the repeal and withdrawal of all other authorized GMO crops and products in the country, starting with rejection of Bayer's application for the LL62 GMO rice variety, which if approved will signal the entry of GMO rice in the country's food chain and will result in disastrous consequences to our most important food crop.

'Twenty-eight other GMO crops have been approved in the Philippines. But, as the MON863 case shows, a GMO's approval for human consumption is not a guarantee of its safety. No GMO has ever undergone long-term testing, nor has been conclusively proven to be safe for human consumption. Bayer LL62, for instance, is not approved anywhere else in the world except in the US where it contaminated long grain rice stocks now being rejected by the rest of the world.

'As with all other GMOs, Bayer LL62, genetically-modified to resist a powerful weed-killer, poses inherent risks to human health and the environment. GMOs threaten biodiversity, food security, farmers' livelihoods, and consumers' choice. Moreover, their long-term effects on soil, animals, plants and human health are still unknown. GE crops and seeds, when released into the environment, also inevitably lead to genetic contamination of non-GMO agriculture and the food chain.

'The clear message then is that the government must reject GMOs and instead look toward a future of farming and food production grounded on the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity, and providing all people access to safe and nutritious food.'

Notes to Editor

MON 863 is corn genetically manipulated to produce its own insecticide called 'modified Cry3Bb1' to kill rootworm insects in the soil, and contains gene coding for antibiotic resistance. A French 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.

In the Philippines, 25 GMO crops (including corn, soybean, sugar beet, alfalfa, potato, and cotton) have been approved by the BPI for direct use in food, feed, and processing, while four GMO corn crops are approved for propagation. Twenty-four of the 29 GMOs approved in the country are owned by Monsanto.

An application for food, feed and processing for the GMO rice Bayer LL62 is currently being reviewed by the Bureau of Plant Industry, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture. Bayer LL62 is rice genetically-manipulated to resist the powerful weed-killer glufosinate which is meant to be used in conjunction with the said GMO crop.

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