Philippines: Stand Up For Your Rice – GM Golden Rice Targeted for 2015 Market

By Heather Callaghan

The Philippines is still fighting to stave off genetically modified golden rice trials in their country. Last year, I reported on a group of 400 Filipino protesters trampling and uprooting a genetically modified golden rice trial.

The trial was run by the NGO non-profit, IRRI – International Rice Research Institute. It was founded in 1960 by the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. In recent years, especially regarding genetic modification, heavy funding also comes from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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With all its support, the IRRI is “force-feeding” these GM field trials on a resisting Philippines – and feeding the world a line of bull about it.

Strangely, I thought to bring it up on Far Out Radio recently. Little did I know there had been new developments. But just as show host Scott Teeters and I said: “They will not stop.” Well, the IRRI is back just like they said they would be. They are targeting 2015 for GM golden rice commercialization. They are almost done with their other Philippines field sites as well as in Bangladesh.

At the time of the GM trial trampling, Dr Tolentino of the project had said:

This is not a major setback, because it is just one trial of a series and just one of several sites. We remain completely committed to continuing our Golden Rice research to help improve people’s nutrition.

Adrian Dubock of the Golden Rice project had said:

We have developed this in conjunction with organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a way of alleviating a real health problem in the developing world. No one is going to make money out of it. The companies involved in developing some of the technologies have waived their licences just to get this off the ground.

Despite this forceful “benevolence,” Filipinos are still resisting it – and for good reason. The Gates-Rockefeller funded IRRI paints themselves as philanthropic victims of misguided vandalism. Yet, the people in Philippines meant exactly what they did. Peaceful Filipinos are like voices crying in the wind – although they barely register as a whisper here with our corporate media pushing the virtues of helping the world with corporate GMOs.

So what are they saying?

Dr. Chito Medina, in Quezon City, talked about health risks, environmental damage from GM Golden rice and alternatives at a news conference earlier this week:

There are no enough studies to ensure the safety of golden rice to human. 

Golden rice could not solve the problem of vitamin A deficiency, he said, adding “the truth is there are a lot of existing solutions to fight such deficiency. 

There are food sources that are rich vitamin A and are readily available.

Another member echoed those sentiments in another report, saying, “there are several sources of Vitamin A readily available in backyards.”

More from Dr. Medina:

The Department of Health must also act to conduct a study on the health impact of golden rice consumption. 

At present, multi-location field trials in the country are almost completed, and feed testing on the people would commence after the approval of DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry. 

Golden rice must be tested first for surrogate animals, such as rats, before human consumption is allowed.

Dr. Chito Medina is the national coordinator of Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG).

Another group is trying to raise a voice in the Philippines. Go Organic Mindanao is a network of organic food supporters. In late April, they launched a campaign called “Stand Up For Your Rice” urging the Philippines government to stop the commercialization of GM golden rice.

Fr Joy Pelino head of Marbel diocese’s social action center joined in the support imploring Mindanao farmers and residents “to remember to put our communities and the environment first before the interests of biotech firms and agri-corporations.”

One member/farmer, Dagohoy Mangaway, is concerned about the 50+ varieties of heirloom and organic rice grown in the area, using tried and true indigenous techniques. Nasser Ali of North Cotabato says the addition of golden rice is unnecessary due to their plentiful indigenous varieties.

Another advocate pointed out the contradiction of the government promoting organic agriculture while this conflicting commercialization unfolds – does that sound familiar? She was referring to the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 – pretty self-explanatory. But, it was also meant to ban GMO cultivation. There is no bio-safety law, nor the resources to provide for real independent field testing.

Ali added, “Golden rice will not prosper here because of the strong commitment of the provincial government to promote organic agricultural practices.”

Yet, money talks. And it appears to me that the Philippines might be more of an “incubator” testing site as opposed to simply grounds for full-blown cultivation. The Philippines government supported the founding of the IRRI and it appeared to be helping by cultivating traditional rice in the 1970s. Why the 180 turnabout from the government? This bloated NGO not only uses its heavy-handed sway and influence, but is one of 15 other research organizations collectively called CGIAR – formerly the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. In 2009, this conglomerate pulled in over half a billion dollars from multiple countries, governments, the UN, the Ford Foundation, the World Bank and more.

They expect a return on their investments – they will not stop.

Photo: Manny Palmero

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at and Like at Facebook.

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