22 April 2003
Hunger Strike against Bt Corn in Philippines
For an example of how carefully Roberto Verzola has researched the issues surrounding GM crops, see his 123 page report: The Genetic Engineering Debate, compiled by Roberto Verzola, June 2000 (PDF 380K)
Attach is the letter from Roberto (Obet Verzola), one of the leading campaigners against GMOs in the Philippines. I hope each and everyone can provide some support to this effort, i.e. support messages, media exposure, distribution within your networks (both local and internationa), etc. Regards to all.. Oscar Zamora
Starting April 22, I and several colleagues will be holding an indefinite hunger strike in front of the Department of Agriculture at the Quezon Memorial Circle, to ask the government to stop the distribution of a genetically-modified variety of corn seeds called Bt corn. The seeds are scheduled for commercial distribution nationwide by Monsanto Corp. starting May or June this year.
Bt corn produces its own built-in poison to kill a pest called the corn borer. If we eat Bt corn, we also ingest the poison. What is worse, this ability to produce a built-in poison is hereditary; it is passed on to all subsequent generations of the corn, and can also be passed on to native varieties through cross-pollination. This will definitely happen because corn is wind-pollinated.
We have tried everything legally possible in the past five years to stop this corn variety from being distributed, in vain. The government has approved its commercialization. Once widespread distribution and planting starts sometime May or June, the irreversible spread of this poison-bearing corn will begin, and there's very little we can do about it.
The media and the public have not paid much attention to this issue because of their preoccupation with other important issues like the Iraq war and SARS. So we now have to go through extraordinary measures to call attention to this matter and stop the distribution of this corn variety.
Our principles do not allow us to engage in violence, which is often the last resort of desperate victims faced with an insensitive government conniving with a criminal corporation and showing little regard for people's livelihood, health or life. Very often too, such violence gets the government's attention and forces it to listen and negotiate.
But that option is not open to us, so this indefinite hunger strike is our last resort.
Please pray for the success of our efforts: that the media and the public will finally take notice and the show concern, that the government will listen, and that we can keep Monsanto from irreversibly poisoning our farms and our food supply.
Those who want to help can visit us in front of the Department of Agriculture, where we will camp out for the duration of the protest.
Regards to all,
P.S. My access to email might become irregular and limited by Apr. 22.