Probe golden rice

A NON-GOVERNMENT agri-based organization has urged the Congress to probe Golden Rice.

Gary Ben Villocino, the Davao area coordinator of Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa pag-unlad ng Agrikultura – Mindanao (MASIPAG Mindanao), said a resolution was filed yesterday before the House of Representatives directing an inquiry on the controversial Golden Rice as an effort to stem the imminent re-introduction of the genetically modified (GM) crop in the country.

 Villocino said the proposed House Resolution will seek to facilitate further awareness-raising among stakeholders, and is expected to compel the Golden Rice proponents to be transparent on the status, process and plans for the GM rice.

The Golden Rice is being pushed by its proponents as a solution to the supposedly worsening cases of Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD).

 In 2011, the GM rice has been field-tested in the Philippines back in five separate locations in Luzon, despite the intense opposition from various farmers and consumers organizations. However, in 2014, the planned commercialization of Golden Rice was halted after the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) declaring that the average yield of the GM rice is much lower than that of the local rice varieties.

 Cris Panerio, MASIPAG national coordinator, said that “from the start, the Golden Rice has been beset with issues and problems such as its relevance, and its safety to human health and environment. The fact that the proponents are renewing the field trials and possibly commercialize it without addressing these issues show that they only care about putting it in the market regardless of its effects to the farmers and consumers.”

He added that there is no consensus on the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Panerio added that the are grateful to Rep. Ariel Casilao and the Anakpawis Partylist in taking up the issue and they also hope that “other legislators will also see the light and take part in protecting our rice and food security by scrutinizing the Golden Rice technology and its planned field trials and commercialization.”

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