Stop the field trial and impending direct use of Golden Rice!Golden Rice: A Narrow View in Addressing Malnutrition Golden Rice, a rice variety that is genetically modified to produce Vitamin A, is touted as a solution to Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) in the Philippines. However, Golden Rice will only bring more problems to health, environment and farmers rights. Here’s how: • Rice, the staple food of Filipinos, will be subjected to unsafe genetic modification • Golden Rice is a concern of everyone; if something unexpected turns out in the process of genetic engineering the consequences would be catastrophic. Golden Rice proponents will subject the Filipinos’ staple food to a technology that is not proven to be safe, more so effective. Genetic modification alters the original genetic make-up of the organism, producing new chemical products that can have negative, unintended and uncontrolled consequences. GE crops can pose harm to those who will eat it, proof of which are the numerous peer-reviewed studies stating that GE crops are unsafe to eat. • It will be nearly impossible to recall GMOs as they are capable of reproduction. GMOs contaminate our food and agriculture thru cross pollination, seed mixing or thru accidental or intentional releases. Our rice varieties, totaling to about 4,000 varieties whose genetic diversity can be tapped to combat climate stresses and alleviate nutritional problems, are at risk of contamination. • Golden Rice does not offer new solutions. Beta carotene, which Golden Rice promises to deliver, is a nutrient that exists naturally in many food crops. It is present in crops in quantities greater than Golden Rice, such as malunggay, kalabasa, saluyot, kamote, carrots and other green leafy vegetables and yellow colored fruits and root crops. While widely available, easily grown and contains more beta carotene than Golden Rice, poverty hinders the Filipino people access to these safe and nutritious foods. Add to this the absence of fats in their diets required for the absorption of Vitamin A. • VAD exists among the population, but there are existing and proven steps in curbing Vitamin A deficiency. These interventions include fortification of food and Vitamin A supplementation by the Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines. To date, the percentage of children aged 0-5 years with VAD have already went down to about 15% in 2008, mainly from these interventions. Same goes in the case of pregnant and lactating mothers, wherein the cases of VAD also dropped within the threshold level. • Golden Rice undermines food safety, health of the environment and farmers rights • Consumer rights to information and food safety is being put at the wayside, such as the absence of labels in foods containing GMOs. The pro-Golden Rice also group ignores safety tests, and to date no tests were conducted to ascertain safety of Golden Rice. Children’s’ rights were also disregarded, as was seen in the case of the secretive and illegal Golden Rice feeding trials to young Chinese children. • There are also no studies on allergenicity and toxicity of Golden Rice, which should be first established in animal feeding trials before feeding trials on humans commence. It is shameful that the pro-GR camp will subject communities in the Philippines, which will target children, to be used as experimental rats in the feeding trials to ascertain efficacy of Golden Rice. • Questions are also being raised about Golden Rice’s role in curbing VAD. Is Golden Rice a food or a drug? If it is a drug that will cure VAD, proper dosaging of Golden Rice should be implemented and regulated, which will deem it very impractical and may pose problems such as overdosing due to overconsumption. • The pro-GR camp is using victims – the children suffering from VAD - as leverage to rush the approval of the said crop. They have also held groups against the introduction of Golden Rice responsible for the death of children suffering from VAD. These claims are baseless, as Golden Rice is still not ready for release and no proofs of its effectivity in addressing VAD were presented. IRRI, the lead proponent in the development of Golden Rice, divulged that the yield of Golden Rice is very low and would take another two years before it will be ready for cultivation. • The regulatory agencies in the country are lax and pro-GMO. To date, there is also no single law that governs GM commercialization or protection of the people from unwanted effects brought about by GM crops. • Golden Rice will ensure corporate control in agriculture • Golden Rice is a product of private corporations using the public institutions to mask their intent in controlling food and agriculture. Golden Rice is a property of Syngenta, one of the biggest Agrochemical TNC in the world. Syngenta has partnered with IRRI and created the Golden Rice Human.
ONE MILLION SIGNATURES FOR THE FUTURE: No to Manila Bay Reclamation, No to Bulacan AerotropolisSalus populi est suprema lex! The welfare of the people is the supreme law ! This is the moment for the one million signatures for the defense of our ecosystems and habitats! One million voice to say NO to Manila Bay Reclamation, NO to Bulacan Aerotropolis and NO to worse flooding! YES to pro-environment and pro-development model that upholds quality life for the greater majority! The NAIA lockdown in August this year, however an isolated incident, was played up and what ensued were seemingly orchestrated efforts from government and business interest groups to speed up the final approval of San Miguel Corporation’s New Manila International Airport. Despite prospects for NAIA rehabilitation, and the expansion of the Clark International Airport to address air gateway woes, however at less cost and less toll for the environment, in all indications, in as far as the Bulacan Provincial Government and Bulakan town’s local authorities are concerned, it’s all systems go for the proposed P735B worth Aerotropolis in Taliptip, Bulakan, Bulacan. The game changer, as tagged by one of SMC bigwigs, the Bulacan Aerotropolis is a multimodal facility, with a mega airport, seaport, industrial and commercial complex, residential and entertainment hubs, which shall sit on a 2500 hectare expanse on the coastal area of Taliptip. Weeks before it was approved by the NEDA Board chaired by President Duterte in April 2018, hundreds of mangrove trees have been cleared in “SMC-acquired” coastal waters, allegedly initiated by SMC men. Interestingly, a DENR representative revealed, the whole of Taliptip coastal side is classified as timberland, is non-disposable and inalienable, and may only be used for aquaculture. Monsoon surges and heavy rains in August have submerged surrounding communities and towns for a number of days. “Wala pa ang airport nyan”, as observed by most of the affected residents. While the proponent obscures reclamation as the base for the implementation of its project, a San Miguel Holdings Corporation’s executive disclosed that recognizing their host province as perennially flood-prone, they are ready to spend for flood mitigating infrastructures as spillways and dams, “if necessary”. Spillways and dams? For whose gain and whose loss ultimately? Development for whom, and at what expense? Though yet under procedural process, displacement of hundreds of families in Taliptip’s influence communities is impending, and nothing is certain but the mere “promise” of a relocation site. Scientists assert reclamation’s disastrous impact on the environment compounded with social and cultural implications: deforestation, loss of biodiversity, food insecurity, prolonged massive flooding, liquefaction and soil subsidence, storm and monsoon surges along coastal villages ,among others, adversely affecting the vulnerable sectors of society. As advocates for the defense of livelihood, communities and the environment, we are urgently called to band together to form the broadest network to oppose this gigantic profit-driven development project! Let us come forward by the thousands of voices, by a million hands and feet marching to signify our collective stand. Tell the government we are for development, so long as it includes us. Please affix your signature below and make history!