Religious leaders hail court block on GM rice (10/10/2007)

GMO critics hail court for tro on Bayer's application
Sun Star, 8 October 2007

KORONADAL CITY -- Religious leaders here hailed the recent decision of a Philippine court in issuing a temporary restraining order against the genetically modified rice produced by Bayer Crop Science, Inc.

Oblates of Notre Dame Sister Pat Babiera, justice and peace coordinator of the Diocese of Marbel, assailed Bayer for trying to introduce genetically modified rice variety Liberty Link 62 (LL62) in the country.

'Consistent with our advocacy stance for preserving the integrity of creation–-we laud the temporary restraining order issued by a court stopping the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Plant Industry from approving the application of the genetically-modified rice Bayer LL62,' she said in a statement.

Last month, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 101 Judge Evangeline Castillo Marigomen favored the injunction sought by environmental group Greenpeace.

'With the unfavorable publications and debates these genetically modified organisms have spawned, it is but prudent that the approval of the application of [Bayer] be restrained in the meantime considering that rice is a staple on the dining table of the Filipinos,' her decision reads.

The injunction petition, which Greenpeace filed August 23, questioned the apparent lack of public voice and public consultation on GMO approvals by DA and BPI, particularly in the case of Bayer LL62’s application.

Sister Babiera said it is 'very risky' to allow genetically modified rice in the country, especially since Filipinos are rice consumers.

'We do not know yet the hazards that it will produce in our rice biodiversity, environment, and well-being,' she added.

Babiera expressed fears that once LL62 is approved for commercial propagation in the country, the Philippines, which imports rice, could become a dumping ground of genetically-altered rice rejected by other countries.

She said they opposed the entry of genetically modified rice in the Philippines since the effects of another transgenic crop, the Bacillus Thuringiensis corn, have not been fully determined.

'And now here comes the genetically-modified rice with [also] unknown implications on human health, biodiversity, food security and farmers’ livelihood,' the nun said.

Daniel Ocampo, Greenpeace genetic engineering campaigner in Southeast Asia, said that if Bayer’s application for LL62 is approved, 'the entry of GMO rice in the Philippines will irrevocably alter the future of the Filipinos’ most important staple food.'

He said the group filed the petition also because Bayer’s application 'will put our rice under further control of greedy corporate interests.'

LL62 is rice with DNA injected with genetic material from an entirely different organism to resist a powerful weed killer, glufosinate, also produced by Bayer.

Bayer reportedly filed the application with the BPI in August last year for the approval of its GMO rice in the Philippines.

It filed the application at the height of the biggest genetic contamination case concerning United States rice supply.


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