Group blasts ‘Golden Rice’ approval, says decision is ‘irresponsible’ and ‘misguided’

An environment group had denounced the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) for the go signal it gave for the commercial production of “Golden Rice” in the country.

Greenpeace called the BPI’s approval of the genetically engineered rice as an “extremely irresponsible and completely misguided.”

Bpi had issued a biosafety permit to genetically modified rice, which was practically a step closer to the commercial production of the rice variety.

‘Irresponsible, misguided’

“The BPI’s approval of so-called ‘golden rice’ is extremely irresponsible and completely misguided,” Wilhelmina Pelegrina, campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, in a statement sent to media said.

“Greenpeace condemns the BPI’s systematic disregard of the precautionary principle, and of robust data that clearly show that the safety assessments submitted by GR proponents are flawed,” she said.

“Rice is the Philippines’ primary staple; this is a foolish decision that will have far-reaching negative impacts on food and agriculture in the country,” Pelegrina added.

Since 2017, BPI had either processed or approved some 85 genetically modified (GM) crops for “direct use as food and feed or for processing (FFP).”

With BPI’s approval, IRRI and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) are reportedly ready for the next steps – sensory evaluations and commercial production.

The first, if ever

The Philippines, if ever,  will be the first to commercially produce the provitamin A carotenoids-fortified yellowish rice kernels.

Countries like Australia, the United States, Canada, and New Zealand had released food safety evaluations on the GM rice variety. These countries, however, did not go beyond food safety evaluations.

The approval process, she contended, failed to take into account the potential socio-economic impacts on farmers and indigenous peoples. It also did not cover the impact on the markets for farmers due to crop contamination from genetically modified species.

The process, she explained, should “provide standards for the safety and security of our citizens.”

Resilient food, farm systems

At a time of climate emergency, the solution, she said, is resilient food and farm systems. This means diverse grains, fruits, and vegetables for diverse diets, and for food and nutrition security.

She urged the government to promote “programs which empower people to have access to and grow diverse fruit and vegetables.”

Do not listen to “a few giant biotech corporations,” Pelegrina said.

These corporations are “pushing unproven expensive techno-fixes and experimenting” on the lives and livelihood of the people,” she said. (Mindanao Sun/ Featured Image: IRRI)

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