GM crops meet int’l standards on safety – US
(The Philippine Star) - July 3, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The United States government yesterday assured that fears of consuming its genetically modified (GM) crops and agricultural products pass international standards for safety.

The US exports to the Philippines several GM crops or products with GM such as soybean meal used for animal feeds, corn seeds and oil. The US also exports to the Philippines’ products containing corn oil  and meat from animals fed with GM corn.

Philip Shull, agricultural counselor at the US embassy in Manila said US GM crops and products sold in the Philippines conform to safety standards set  by the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety that seeks to protect biodiversity from risks posed by genetically modified organisms and the Codex Alimentarius, a collection of internationally recognized standards on food production and food safety.

Shull admitted that the US government is worried about misunderstanding on GM crops and products.

 â€œTo the extent that if any consumer says that I don’t want to buy a product from the US because it may be a GM product or contain a GM component, of course that’s a concern...The Philippines is a huge market and growing every year so we want correct information out there,” he said.

Shull added, “And we are certain that if the consumer decides that they do not want to consume biotech products, we also sell organic products. But we do not want these to be prohibited. We do not want to see an unjustified ban on crops that are especially useful to Filipino farmers and food processors as well,” he added.

Genetic modification of crops entails the mixing of plant genes with superior traits to produce an organism containing both superior traits such as pest and drought tolerance for instance.

Shull said the use of biotech crops contributes to food sufficiency and helps farmers’ income.

Dr. Oscar Gutierrez, officer-in-charge of policy and planning of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), also assured crops sold in the Philippines have passed safety standards and do not threaten human health.

“All GMO products in the market have passed international safety standards. They are as safe as ordinary products and just as nutritious,” he said.

In May, the Court of Appeals granted the petition of environmental group Greenpeace and other groups to stop the field trials of BT eggplant conducted by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) saying it is harmful to the environment.

Dr. Reynaldo Ebora, director of the UPLB National  Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH)said they have already filed a motion for reconsideration before the appellate court last June 10.

“We are hoping the ruling would be reversed and we would be allowed to continue out field trials . We are concerned that we have not violated anything so we should be able to pursue our experiment so long as it is compliant with the regulations of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).

 â€œThis is something that Filipinos should be proud of. Especially now that you’ve grown the BT eggplant,” said Shull.

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