Bt eggplant field trial decontaminated
2.Bt eggplant field trial site decontaminated in the Philippines
1.Indian activists help Filipinos decontaminate Bt brinjal field trial site
Business Standard, February 18 2011
A Greenpeace decontamination unit, helped by Indian activists and provincial governments of the Philippines, today removed crops of Bt Brinjal from a field trial site in Barangay Paciano Rizal in Bay, Laguna, Philippines. This action was a follow up to calls made by the public and concerned sections of the society to put a stop to the field trials of the genetically modified (GM) brinjal. The crops were removed down till their roots and sealed in hazmat (hazardous materials) containers to prevent contamination of other fields and crops.
In an action which has clear relevance in India, the Greenpeace team was supported by organic farmers from Davao, Philippines, who had participated in a similar operation carried out by the provincial government of Davao in October last year. The Filipinos were helped by the proponents of sustainable agriculture from India, who have helped formulate the current moratorium on the proliferation of Bt eggplant in their country. After it was put on hold in India, Mahyco which developed Bt brinjal in India has been pushing for its approval in the Philippines, trying to use this as a back door entry for the crop into India.
The activity was held in support of massive protests against seven trial sites across the country. The local governments of 3 of these sites have issued resolutions banning the field trials in their areas, while permits for testing have already been cancelled for both Davao, Leyte and Iloilo. Similar statutes are still in process for Pangasinan, Laguna, Camarines Sur and North Cotabato, but the field trials are mostly already underway. (Field trials were started in Davao city but were destroyed upon the orders of City Mayor Duterte)
The resistance we see in the Philippines today is a reflection of what happened in India last year. "Greenpeace is taking action today to prevent any further contamination from these hazardous GMO crops. This Bt brinjal experiment poses a threat to the environment and farmers’ livelihoods aside from violating the spirit of the (Philippines') Organic Agriculture Act, 2010. Once these experimental GMOs flower, their pollen can contaminate both conventional and organic crops, irreversibly damaging them," said Daniel Ocampo, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Sustainable Agriculture campaigner.
Even as India completes a year since Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Environment and Forests, called for an indefinite moratorium on Bt brinjal, the Indian government is in the process of expediting the re-approval process, bending its back to multinationals to permit GMOs into the country, and eyeing the possibility of an approval in the Philippines as a back door and legitimate entry of Bt brinjal into the country. While the farming communities, consumers, health specialists and environmentalists alike continue to raise their objections against GMOs, open air experiments on a variety of GM food crops are being conducted across the country. Of these, GM maize of Monsanto which has been banned by Germany and France has now reached large-scale field trials in India, which is just a step away from commercialisation.
"Such open experiments of GM food crops are a grave threat to our food safety as contamination from them is a reality." said Shivani Shah, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, India. She further stated that "It is unfortunate that even after so much of scientific information is available, which questions the safety of GM crops to health of the citizens and the environment, the Indian government is going ahead with mindless act of permitting numerous open air trials of such crops."
2.Greenpeace moves to decontaminate Bt eggplant field trial site in the Philippines
Greenpeace SE Asia, February 17 2011
Bay, Laguna, Philippines - A Greenpeace decontamination unit today removed genetically-engineered Bt eggplant, locally known as ‘Talong’, from a field trial site in Barangay Paciano Rizal in Bay, Laguna, and sealed the experimental food crop in hazmat (hazardous materials) containers to prevent further contamination of neighboring fields and the environment.
The Greenpeace activists were supported by organic farmers from Davao who had participated in a similar operation carried out by their provincial government last year.
"Greenpeace is taking action today to prevent any further contamination from these hazardous genetically engineered crops. This Bt eggplant experiment poses a threat to the environment and to farmers’ livelihoods, aside from violating the spirit of the Organic Agriculture Act. Once these experimental GMOs (genetically modified organisms) flower, their pollen can contaminate both conventional and organic crops, irreversibly damaging them,” said Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “The public has the right to a safe environment and to food sources that are not genetically engineered. If the authorities, such as the DA, fail to uphold those rights, then it becomes legitimate for others to do so.”
Greenpeace has called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) to:
* Halt all Bt eggplant field trials in the Philippines and decontaminate all existing field trial sites with immediate effect;
* Implement the Organic Agriculture Act and ban genetic engineering of all food crops in the Philippines.
* To take an active role in supplying sufficient quantity and quality of non-Bt seeds and support organic and ecological agriculture practices.
Bt eggplant field trials commenced in 2010 despite massive protests by farmers and consumers. Of the seven selected trial sites, Davao City, Baybay in Leyte, and Sta. Barbara in Iloilo, have issued municipal and barangay resolutions banning the field trials. Similar statutes are still in process for Pangasinan, Laguna, Camarines Sur and North Cotabato, where field trials are already underway. Field trials were also conducted in Davao city last October but the plants were uprooted by the local government to uphold a resolution banning the trials.
"Like in India, there is no public support for Bt eggplant field trials and it is just not right for a few GMO proponents to conduct an open experiment that can inflict grave and possibly irreversible risks to an unsuspecting public," added Shivani Shah, the sustainable agriculture campaigner from India who was on-hand to provide support to local efforts in implementing a shift to sustainable farming practices.
The Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) eggplant is genetically-modified to contain a built-in toxin to kill the fruit-and-shoot borer insect. It is currently not approved in any country including in India where the technology was sourced for use in the Philippines. Last February 2010, the government of India passed a moratorium on Bt eggplant commercialization to protect the country’s agriculture. In its decision, the Environment Ministry said that the science behind Bt eggplant is inadequate to answer the concerns raised by civil society groups, and that the country’s GMO regulatory system is inadequate.
An analysis of India’s Bt brinjal (eggplant) biosafety data by Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini, a French scientist, released in 2009 shows that the GMO eggplant is unsuitable for human consumption. The analysis concluded that Bt brinjal released into the environment, for food or feed, may present a serious risk for human and animal health.
“Greenpeace is urging DA Secretary Prospero Alcala to categorically ban all Bt Eggplant field trials. He has already stated that Bt eggplant will not be commercialized, which renders the field trials irrelevant. Safety concerns on Bt eggplant are still unanswered, and the risks are even more disturbing given the Philippines’ very lax and permissive regulatory systems. Only by halting the further entry and approvals of genetically engineered food crops can the DA achieve its goal of food security and sustainable agriculture in the country,” concluded Ocampo.
Greenpeace campaigns for agriculture that is good for the planet and people; healthy food grown with the environment ”” not against it; and farming that will help us cope with climate change.