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SC issues writ vs GMO golden rice, eggplant

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
SC issues writ vs GMO golden rice, eggplant
Individuals are seen purchasing fresh produce, meat, and poultry products at the Marikina Public Market on October 7, 2022.
STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — Genetically modified rice and eggplant products will remain off the market after the Supreme Court (SC) issued a writ in favor of farmers and scientists who sought to stop the government from commercially releasing the products.

In an en banc session on Tuesday, the SC granted a writ of kalikasan to the Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-Unlad ng Agrikultura (Masipag) and other petitioners against officials of the Departments of Agriculture (DA), Environment and Natural Resources, and Health as well as the Bureau of Plant Industry, Philippine Rice Research Institute and University of the Philippines-Los Baños.

The writ of kalikasan, a judicial mechanism, provides protection against natural disasters caused by human activities like mining.

In its petition, the Masipag alleged that the golden rice and the Bacillus thuringiensis Eggplant (Bt Eggplant) are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and are cause for environmental concern.

GMOs are under heavy debate by those weighing their negative impacts on biodiversity and their being cost-friendly to needy farmers.

The petitioners sought the issuance of the writ alongside a continuing mandamus before the SC last year for a temporary environmental protection order that mandates the DA to stop the commercial propagation of golden rice and issue biosafety permits for the commercial propagation of Bt Eggplant.

The SC has yet to disclose whether they also granted other requests in the petition including stopping the DA from commercially propagating the Golden Rice and the Bt Eggplant until proof of safety and compliance with legal requirements are presented.

The petitioners want all biosafety permits for Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant nullified and voided.

They also sought independent risk and impact assessments, secure prior and informed consent of farmers and indigenous peoples and ensure liability mechanisms in case of damage as required by law.

While the SC has yet to release the full decision, a briefer on the case showed that the Masipag argued that the Golden Rice, which is patented to transnational agrochemical corporation Syngenta, is a rice variety that has been modified by inserting genes from maize and bacteria found in soil.

The bacteria allows the plant to biosynthesize beta-carotene in the edible parts of the staple.

“They also argued that Bt Eggplant was designed so the plant would produce its own toxin to kill the fruit and shoot borer, which is one of several common pests that consume and damage eggplants,” the briefer added.

The SC promulgated the writ of kalikasan in the 2000s alongside with the writs of amparo and habeas data.

vuukle comment

EGGPLANT

GOLDEN RICE

SUPREME COURT

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