Supreme Court asked to block GM eggplants
GMA News, April 26 2012
A group of scientists, farmers, and other concerned individuals on Thursday asked the Philippine Supreme Court to stop the government from introducing genetically engineered eggplants to Philippine soil, citing health and environmental hazards.
In a 68-page petition for for continuing mandamus and Writ of Kalikasan, the petitioners oppossed the government's field testing of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) talong, a genetically engineered pest-resistant eggplant which "confers resistance to fruit and shoot borer."
The government has already started its field tests for Bt talong since 2010 in Pangasinan, Camarines Sur, Davao City, Laguna, and North Cotabato.
Field tests are likewise set to be conducted in Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Rizal, Iloilo, and Leyte.
But in its petition, the petitioners said the project proponents of Bt talong did not only fail to secure the necessary environmental compliance certificate, but did not consult the respective local government units, non-government organizations and other sectors.
"Bt talong is a classic environmental case where scientific evidence as to the health and environemntal safety and socio-economic impact is insufficent, inconclusive or uncertain," the petitioners said.
The petitioners also asked the highcourt to issue a temporary environmental protection order.
"Owing to the novelty of the technology used as well as the fact that no long-term, comprehensive and extensive study has been done with respect to Bt talong, there is no assurance that in the long term... this technology will not affect or produce harmful effects on the crop lands and range lands or other animal and plant species," gthe petitioners said.
They said preliminary scientific evaluation has indicated that there "reasonable grounds for concern about their potentially dangerous effects on the environment and human health."
The petitioners said that in light of "conflicting claims" about the safety of the genetically modified plant, the government should have first applied precautionary measures before carrying out the field tests.
The petitioners included Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Magsasaka at Siyentipiko sa Pagpapaunlad ng Agrikultura (Masipag), Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino, former Sen. Orlando Mercado, Puerto Pricesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn, and Artist Noel Cabangon.
Other petitioners include lawyer Harry Roque Jr, Dr. Ben Malayang III, Dr. Angelina Galang, Dr. Romeo Quijano, Dr. Wency Kiat, Leonardo Avila III, Catherin Untalan, lawyer Maria Paz Luna, Juanito Modina, Dagohoy Magaway, and Edwin Marthine Lopez.
Named respondents were the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Envirnment and Natural Resources (DENR-EMB), Bureau of Plant Industry, Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, University of the Philippines-Los Banos, UP Mindanao and Los Banos Foundations, and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications Southeast Asia Center.
The petitioners said the respondents violated the precautionary principle of environmental laws, the people's rights to a balanced and healthy ecology and to health, the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement Sustem law, the Local Government Code, Administrative Order No. 8 of the Department of Agriculture and Executive Order No. 514 which establishes the National Biosafety Framework.
The petitioners said the government violated the public's constituional right to be informed "on all matters of public concern, including their rights to participation and to consumer protection."
The project proponents also allegedly violated the public's right to a balanced and healthful ecology, and health. TJD, GMA News