More groups support anti-Bt corn hunger strikers (7/5/2003)

7 May 2003

More groups support anti-Bt corn hunger strikers

As the protest outside the Philippines' DEpt of Agriculture (DA) goes on:
* Defy state policy, Lorenzo urged
* Australian Legislator Offers Support to DA for Bt corn moratorium
* More groups support anti-Bt corn hunger strikers
Defy state policy, Lorenzo urged
May 7, 2003
Reference: RAFAEL MARIANO, KMP National Chairperson
The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today urged Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo Jr. to defy the Macapagal-Arroyo government's policy on modern biotechnology and the commercialization of the Bt corn and other genetically engineered seeds.

KMP chair Rafael Mariano said "Secretary Lorenzo must defy the state's policy and immediately recall the DA's approval of the Bt corn and other genetically engineered seeds' commercialization and release on the environment."

The DA, through the Bureau of Plant Industry, approved the release of the Bt corn.

Mariano said "agrochemical transnational corporations, like Monsanto, put profits above the life and health of the people to the extent of inflicting permanent damage to the environment and thereby affecting the biodiversity of life, survival, food security and livelihoods of over a billion people worldwide."

He stressed that, "liberalization of agricultural trade, propelled by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its Agreement on Agriculture has only worsened and led the increasing monopolization of world markets as it favored the strongest trading partners, like the US."

"Filipino farmers would thwart Monsanto's attempt to monopolize and control the corn seed market in the country," he dared.  The KMP added that, "Bt corn is out of context in the problems of corn farmers because the corn borer pest, the pest that the Bt corn allegedly eradicates, is never a primary problem but instead a peripheral one."

"The more alarming and immediate problems of farmers include landlessness, the price manipulation of farm produce during harvest, the concentration of lands to plantations engaged in export crop production and other feudal and semi-feudal forms of exploitation," the peasant group said.

The KMP maintains calls to farmers to boycott Monsanto products, particularly Yieldgard corn, the brand name of the Bt corn.
Australian Legislator Offers Support to DA for Bt corn moratorium
[via AgBioIndia: http://www.agbioindia.org]
DA Compound (May 4) - Sen. Bob Brown of Australia wrote Sec. Lorenzo on May 2 expressing grave concern about Bt corn and asking him "to place an immediate moratorium on its use and distribution" in the Philippines. He talked about the experience of Tasmania, a state in Australia, which placed a five-year moratorium on the introduction of all genetically modified food.   

He said this was done because of the "impact such genetically-engineered (GE) crops would have on Tasmania's reputation in global export markets".   

Tasmania, the Senator said, is "well known for its high quality agricultural production.". Senator Brown is willing to provide DA information how the moratorium was introduced or how it operates in Tasmania.   

A full go-ahead for the Bt corn and other GMO crops after it will spell the death of the organic farming industry in the Philippines. This will happen as non-GMO crops will be contaminated with GMO crops.  

The market for genetically-engineered crops is shrinking worldwide. Even American corn growers expressed grave misgivings about Bt corn when they lost market share, especially in European markets.  

On their 13th day today, the remaining four strikers - two women and two men - are getting weaker and are having difficulty getting up without being assisted.    They however vowed to continue their "indefinite" hunger strike until Sec. Lorenzo stops the propagation and commercial sale of Bt corn.   The Columban Fathers will officiate a Holy Mass for the strikers today at 10 am in front of the Department of Agriculture compound.
More groups support anti-Bt corn hunger strikers
[via AgBioIndia: http://www.agbioindia.org]
DA compound (May 3) - More groups are coming out in support of the hunger strike.    Yesterday, NGOs based in Quezon City working on women and farmers' issues organized a program to keep the strikers and their followers informed of the ill-effects of Bt corn.  

The Artists for the Environment have also expressed their support to the hunger strikers.   

In fact, singers Noel Cabangon, Heber Bartolome and Jess Santiago are collaborating on a ballad "Ang Taghoy ng Ginahasang Mais" to make the issue of Bt corn understandable to the general public.  

The hunger strikers are doing what they can to cope with the summer heat.  Striker Obet Verzola of the Philippine Greens wiped his arms with a soaked face towel while Ka Sita Esmao of PAKISAMA, though pale-looking, continued to entertain visitors.   Arma Bertuso of SEARICE is having difficulty breathing because of the fumes from passing vehicles while Mark Cervantes seem to have come out from his dizzy spell.  

"Sana'y sagutin na kami ni Secretary Lorenzo", said Mark Cervantes on the group's plea to the DA Secretary to stop the propagation and commercial sale of Bt corn.  

In a one day weight monitoring yesterday, the strikers have lost an average of over 1 pound. The perilous weight drop will inevitably continue until the government responds to their request for a moratorium.
CONCERNS OF SCIENTISTS - see above and more
examples at: http://ngin.tripod.com/foodstatements.htm

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