Pro-Golden Rice GMO Lobbyists Refused Farmers’ Challenge to Debate

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Cowed by the intense resistance,
Pro-Golden Rice lobbyists refused the farmers’ challenge to debate

[Editor’s note: Some background on the unfortunate situation in the Philippines – Gates partners like International Rice Research Institute have told the Filipinos they will not leave even after hundreds of protesters and farmers came out to trample GM field trials. That’s quite the agenda! They are forcing a GMO environment on Filipinos against their will and using the Philippines as a global testing ground for new crops. It is my estimation that this new “lobby group” is born out of the heavily funded GMO industry as a way to synthesize the people there and around the world. -Heather Callaghan]

Los Baños, Laguna – The rabid Golden Rice lobby group, Allow Golden Rice Now! has left the Philippines with their tails behind their legs, and cowed by the intense resistance showed by the farmers opposing the unsafe and unwanted Golden Rice.

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Farmer-scientist group MASIPAG believes that by ignoring the farmers’ challenge to a public debate on Golden Rice as they arrived in the country last week, it appears that the lobby group was afraid to face the farmers who will be among the first to be exposed to the potential harms of Golden Rice.
The Allow Golden Rice Now!, a lobby group based in Canada toured the Philippines from March 3-10 to campaign for the adoption of the genetically modified ‘Golden Rice’. The said visit is part of their Asia campaign tour, in which they will also travel to Bangladesh and India to promote Golden Rice. Headed by Patrick Moore, the group peddled the genetically modified rice while demonizing the farmers and other sectors who have expressed their opposition to the Golden Rice.

“It appears Patrick Moore and his cohorts chose not to face the farmers in a debate because they know that they will be exposed as frauds and agents of disinformation,” said Dr. Chito Medina, National Coordinator of MASIPAG. “Instead they sneak around the country spewing misleading claims on the technology, and even on organizations that are critical to Golden Rice.”

Golden Rice is genetically engineered that has been modified to express beta-carotene, a precursor of Vitamin A. Golden Rice, which is being developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), will supposedly address Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) in developing countries such as the Philippines. The opposition against Golden Rice has intensified to the point that more than 400 local farmers and basic sectors uprooted the clandestine Golden Rice field trials in Pili, Camarines Sur in August 2013.

“Instead of heeding the farmers call to stop Golden Rice, and focus on other means to address VAD, Golden Rice proponents paint the political action as ‘vandalism’, and the rejection of the GM rice as a ‘crime against humanity’,” said Dr. Medina. “When in fact, the real crime being committed against humanity is subjecting rice, staple food of 60 percent of the world’s population, to an unsafe and potentially harmful technology such as genetic modification.”

Farmers’ resistance

More than 70 farmers from the provinces of Quezon, Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan trooped to the Department of Agriculture last March 6 calling to stop the commercialization of Golden Rice in the country. Farmers insisted that there are enough Vitamin A-rich foods in nature and in cultivated farms making Golden Rice unnecessary and unwanted.

“We cultivate a number of vegetables and fruits that are safe sources not only of Vitamin A, but also other nutrients that our body needs to be healthy,” said Lolit Saberola, a farmer from Tayabas, Quezon. “As a mother, I would not want to expose my children and grandchildren to Golden Rice.”
“Golden Rice is a simplistic solution to a complex problem,” said Cris Panerio, Regional Coordinator for MASIPAG in Luzon. “Vitamin A Deficiency and malnutrition is caused by the lack of access to safe and sufficient food, which obviously cannot be solved by Golden Rice.”

MASIPAG farmers, along with the Resist Agrochemical TNCs alliance displayed vegetables such as malunggay (moringga), sweet potato, water cabbage, lettuce, yellow potatoes as examples of local and natural foods that are rich in important nutrients. The group likewise called for a genuine agrarian reform, as most Filipino farmers do not even have their own land to till, as well as access to other basic agricultural services.

Patrick Moore declared persona non grata

Disgust and dismissal of the pro-Golden Rice group also ran high in the organic province of Negros Occidental, whose Governor, Alfredo Marañon Jr. stated that “they cannot come in. In Negros Occidental, we are GMO-free.” Anakpawis partylist representative Fernando ‘Ka Pando’ Hicap also delivered a privilege speech in the House of Representatives last March 9, stating that GMOs does not have a place in the country. He will also refile the GM Free Agriculture bill in response to the impending commercialization of Golden Rice and other GMOs in food and agriculture.

An opinion piece in one of the local dailies in Negros has declared Patrick Moore as persona non grata after exposing the lobbyist as a “paid spokesman for the nuclear industry, the logging industry, and genetic engineering industry.”

“The sneaky ways of Allow Golden Rice Now shows that their lobbying is not based on principles nor science, but are underhanded and deceiving,” emphasized Dr. Medina. “They would be better off to go back home and understand first the core issue of hunger and poverty in the developing countries, rather than pontificate on technologies that are not appropriate, unnecessary and unwanted.”

Press release from Masipag and GM Watch

Masipag is a nework of farmers’ groups, scientist and non-government organizations in the Philippines seeking to improve the farmers’ quality of life through their control over genetic resources, agricultural technology and associated knowledge.

For inquiries please contact:
Dr. Chito Medina, National Coordinator
Mobile no.: 09175442196
Email: [email protected]

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