I have met with many of these scientists, regulators and other stakeholders involved in the responsible regulation of GM biotechnologies in the Philippines. I know they are extremely conscious about due diligence and for doing what is best for their country. These are people which have been quite active in the discussions leading to formulating policies and positions, as well as, innovative approaches to delivering appropriate biotechnologies and other technologies for the improvement of Filipino farmers’ livelihoods. Technologies which have already been delivering benefits to farmers.
I have been quite energized every time I have visited the Philippines when learning about the innovative approaches to technology especially when learning also of the many financial and human resources limitations they have. My support goes to these communities who are battling for their sovereign rights and for doing what is best for their country. I do hope that those pressure groups who are the cause of such disarray, stop for a minute and become less dogmatic and more practical about technology for the benefit of people in developing countries. The latter is my concern.
Reposted from the Manila Standard Today http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/19/filipino-scientists-uphill-battle-versus-greenpeace/
Filipino scientists’ uphill battle versus Greenpeace
By Alvin Capino | Posted on Jul. 19, 2013 at 12:01am | 263 views
We take our hats off to our Filipino scientists led by dedicated agricultural researchers from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños (UPLB). They are definitely among the best in the world. They make us proud.
Recently, they have made Filipinos even prouder.
We have to be proud of the brave fight that our Filipino scientific community has put up against one of the best-funded pressure groups in the world today—Greenpeace.
Some people say this is a losing fight for Filipino scientists. Many doubt they can match the financial resources of Greenpeace. They are bravely fighting nonetheless.
The arena of this battle is the Philippine judicial system. Greenpeace won a decision from a division of the Filipino Court of Appeals effectively stopping Filipino scientists from the field testing of the Bt Talong—an eggplant variety that can fight plant pests on its own, without help from toxic chemical pesticides which have long been the bane of Filipino farmers’ health.
These chemicals have long been a bane to the general public’s health, too. We eat chemical pesticide-laced plant products all our lives. It is not far-fetched that these products—imported mostly from western countries—may have contributed much to the rising incidence of cancer among Filipinos.
For obvious reasons, Greenpeace has never raised a howl against the decades-old nearly-total dependence of Filipino farmers on toxic chemical pesticides we import from its European home base.
Instead, Greenpeace has pursued a protracted war against the Filipino scientific community’s bid for the wider use of biotechnologically produced plant varieties in our country. In this war, Greenpeace has used the most vicious language to describe both biotech plant varieties and our Filipino scientists.
Greenpeace used to scare Filipinos about the biotech variety of corn. We recall that over a decade ago, Greenpeace spread fears that the corn variety causes cancer, mental retardation, and impotence.
Filipinos knew that such had no scientific basis.
At the end of the day, Filipinos realized we were just being spooked. The Philippine government likewise refused to get scared. It adopted a policy encouraging the adoption of modern technologies to hasten our bid for food sufficiency. The biotech corn variety became a hit among farmers. So far, there are no reported cases of Filipinos changing sexual orientation because they ate poultry or livestock fed with biotech corn.
Today, the objects of Greenpeace’s scare campaign are our Filipino courts.
To the dismay of both Filipino scientists and farmers, the Europe-based group was able to obtain a Writ of Kalikasan. The writ ordered Filipino scientists to stop all field testing of the biotech eggplant variety. Filipino scientists will now have to convince the courts that everything it has heard from the foreign group may be nothing more than a part of the effort it commenced over a decade ago to scare us.
Filipino scientists, led by former UP Los Baños President Emil Javier, is leading the effort to explain to the courts the value of the Filipino scientific community’s advocacy for the adoption of plant varieties with natural built-in resistance to pests.
Greenpeace will put up a strong opposition to that. The European group will tell Filipino magistrates that these plant varieties which don’t need European pesticides are bad for the environment.
It is possible that Greenpeace can win a permanent decision from the Filipino court that will forever prevent Filipino farmers from becoming independent from the stranglehold of European pesticides. One must not doubt the power and muscle of a well-funded group that battles Filipino scientists full-time.
But such a scenario will baffle us, Filipinos, forever.
We cannot understand the ferocity of the efforts employed by the European Greenpeace against our bid for independence from European pesticides while making the environment the very excuse for such opposition.
We all know that the only alternative left for Filipino farmers is the continued use of these toxic imported chemicals. We all know that the other supposed option—organic farming—is not enough to help raise the production of our farms.
Can anything be more harmful to the environment than toxic chemical pesticides?
These chemicals remain in the soil for ages. They are washed down our rivers and streams. When sprayed, they make their presence felt in the air we breathe. They land in our lungs and eventually find their way to our kidneys, liver, intestines. There, they rendezvous with dormant cancer cells, coaxing the latter to awaken and multiply.
Can anything more harmful be present in our environment?
Will the European group Greenpeace ask the Filipino court to ever stop the use of European pesticides?
We seriously doubt it.