BPI upholds permit for GMO corn

- Marianne V. Go () - April 8, 2007 - 12:00am
Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Director Joel Rudinas has upheld the permit for Monsanto’s genetically modified corn MON863, assuring that the strictest tests and most stringent standards were applied by the BPI on the genetically-modified organism (GMO) corn MON863 before it was approved for entry and cultivation in the Philippines.

Rudinas said that the BPI approved MON863 "for direct use as food or feed and for processing on Oct. 7, 2003 based on a stringent regulatory process and compliance of the applicant on the terms and conditions set forth under Department of Agriculture (DA) Administrative Order No. 8, Series of 2002."

Rudinas said that contrary to fears raised by international environmental watchdog Greenpeace, "the safety assessments were conducted based on the context of international agreements like the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, Codex Alimentarius and International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)."

Rudinas added that "Corn MON863 has undergone a process of scientific and technical assessment. Under DA AO8, the scientific evidence on the safety of Corn MON863 was examined thoroughly by an independent team of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) and parallel examination done by technical personnel of the Bureau of Agriculture, Fisheries and Product Standards (BAFPS) for food safety and the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) for feed safety."

Earlier, Greenpeace claimed that the corn strain showed signs of toxicity based on a study undertaken by a panel of three independent scientists in France.

The study, argued Greenpeace, showed that laboratory rats fed with the GMO corn Monsanto (MON) 863 YieldGard Rootworm displayed kidney and liver toxicity.

MON 863 is corn genetically manipulated to produce its own insecticide called "modified Cry3Bb1" to kill rootworm insects in the soil.

It also contains gene coding for antibiotic resistance.

Rudinas said "the evaluation is rigorous and the BPI and its partner-institutions ensure that only genetically-modified crops that have been well studied and found safe to human and animal health are allowed into our food supply and into our environment."

Given these processes, Rudinas said "the DA upholds the permit for Corn MON863, which allows the importation of the regulated article for direct use as food, feed and for processing." Rudinas said the BPI, however, would revisit the risk assessment for Corn MON863 "if new data provide that the risks have changed."

Moreover, Rubinas added, "the DA and its regulatory agencies will continue to monitor all GM crops and products that have been granted commercial approval to ensure that there are no significant risks to human and animal health and the environment."

Entitled "New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity," the study was published in the scientific journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

The study analyzed results of safety tests submitted by Monsanto to the European Commission (EC) when the company was seeking authorization to market MON 863 in the European Union.

The data shows that significant health risks were associated with the GMO corn.

Still, EC granted licenses to market MON 863 for consumption by both humans and animals.

The data was obtained by Greenpeace following a court case, and was passed on for evaluation by a team of experts headed by Prof. Gilles Eric Séralini, a governmental expert in genetic-engineering from the University of Caen in France.

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