22 April 2003
More on hunger strike in the Philippines
Network Opposed to Genetically Modified Organisms! (NO GMOs!)
Contact Address: Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE), Units 208/331 Eagle Court Condominium
26 Matalino Street, Diliman, Quezon City
Tel. Nos.: 922-6710, 433-7182
22 April 2003
HUNGER STRIKERS MET BY DA OFFICIALS; CONTAMINATION OF AGRI CROPS ADMITTED BUT NO ONE MAY BE HELD CLEARLY LIABLE UNDER DA RULES
NGO activists and farmer-leaders starting an indefinite hunger strike today to demand for a moratorium on the field testing and commercialization of GMOs in the Philippines were met in a dialogue by the Department of Agriculture's minor technical officials as the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Luis "Cito" Lorenzo was unavailable.
"We should not let transnational corporations (TNCs) make the decision on what we should eat; this decision is only ours to make", blurted out Mr. Mark Cervantes, one of the hunger strikers from the NGO South East Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment, to the DA officials who met them.
Dr. Art Salazar, the head of the Department of Agriculture's Corn Program admitted during the dialogue with the hunger strikers there is already contamination of the country's agricultural crops resulting from the various field testings of Bt corn in the previous years and the only way to avoid further contamination of the country's other key agricultural crops is not to plant Bt corn.
This contradicts the Department's claimthat the genetically-engineered corn does not contaminate other native corn varieties and other plants and living matter situated in the sites where Bt corn is planted.
The DA officials, also joined by Assec. Tejada of Field Operations, likewise admitted that the present DA Guidelines for the Field Testing and Commercialization of GMOs are not clear who should be held liable for these contaminations, or for that matter, disease outbreaks that affect the health of people or any other environmental calamity.
The hunger strikers are Antonio Claparols (Environmental Society of the Philippines); Roberto Verzola (Philippine Greens); Luisita Esmao (PAKISAMA); Mark Cervantes (SEARICE); Arma Bertuso (SEARICE); and activists Gigie Cruz, Ramon Fernando, Rei Panaligan and Anne Laracas.