Democratic denial -- North and South -- is fast turning into a key issue in relation to this technology.
The article below reports how, in reaction to the urgent petition of farmers, the Municipal Council of Polomolok in the Phillipines unanimously passed a resolution strongly opposing the open field testing of GMOs particularly Bt-corn in Polomolok. Undaunted Pioneer Hi-Bred has now begun just such a trial.
At the weekend the German foreign minister was quoted as saying that Europeans do not want GMOs - period, but Europe has vast quantities of GMOs going into its food chain as well as innumerable field releases. As a consequence of the difficulty of challenging what is occurring at the local level, a campaign has just been launched in Brussels to create a network of areas in Europe free of genetically modified (GM) crops.
The campaign needs to go worldwide. In India last week leading UK regulator Janet Bainbridge told her Indian audience, "We must give people the right to choose. The Indian people must decide for themselves whether they want GM foods or not" but at another meeting in India Bainbridge claimed there was, 'No alternative to genetically modified foods', while the goings on around the 88th Indian Science Congress perfectly expose how the biotech industry in collaboration with elements of a self-interested scientific and political elite are in reality imposing this technology:
“the private sector was well represented through MAHYCO [Monsanto] both in the 'Genetically Modified Foods" and 'How Food Secure is India?' public forum meetings. But while the industry was allowed its say, concerns from the audience were not fielded by the panelists. The public forum on GM foods did not have an interaction with the audience at all.”
The same newspaper article also described as "alarming" the categorical support for GM that emerged in a related public statement which was "based not on data, but on lobbies".
Sister Susan Bolanios, head of the Phillipines' group Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk (JPIC), sums it up in the article below when she says: “This is a blatant mockery of peoples’ participation in democratic processes”.
Pioneer Plants Bt Corn in Southern Philippines, Violates Local Resolution
POLOMOLOK, South Cotabato/13 January 2001.
Amidst strong opposition from small farmers, church sector, non-government organizations and local government officials, Pioneer Hi-Bred silently started its field trial of genetically engineered Bt corn in Barangay Glamang, Polomolok, South Cotabato last Monday, 8 January. “This is a blatant mockery of peoples’ participation in democratic processes,” said Sister Susan Bolanios, head of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk (JPIC) of the Diocese of Marbel who closely followed the local debates on Bt corn. The Municipal Council of Polomolok unanimously passed Resolution No. 169 on Dec 13 last year strongly opposing" the open field testing of GMO's particularly Bt-corn in Polomolok, South Cotabato. The local legislators cited the “enormous uncertainty” on the health hazards and environmental damage that may result from the field test of Bt corn. The Resolution was adopted in reaction to the urgent petition of farmers in Glamang village opposing the field trial. In November 2000, local farmers signed a petition opposing the field release which was then submitted to the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) for consideration. The NCBP, the highest government regulatory body on the introduction of GMOs in the country, ignored the Petition and approved the application in its meeting on 12 December. The Philippine Guidelines for Field Release of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) merely requires public notification on planned release of GMOs in targeted areas. The Local Government Code, however, mandates national government agencies to consult with local government units and local organizations on projects or programs that may have impact on ecological or environmental balance. The Code also requires prior approval of the local council before such program or project is implemented. Pioneer Hi-Bred, the world’s largest producer of hybrid corn seeds, is conducting the field trial in Polomolok and in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon in collaboration with the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) of the University of the Philippines in Los BaÃ±os (UPLB). It aims to test the efficacy of MON 810 on the Asiatic corn borer. In March 2000, Cargill-Agroseeds also defied strong opposition from various sectors and local resolutions filed by the City Council of General Santos to stop the field trial of Bt corn in Barangay Lagao. A group of farmers’ organizations, non-government organizations and local legislators filed a Petition for a temporary restraining order to the Supreme Court in February, which was dismissed on technical grounds. ________________________________________________________________ DISTRIBUTED BY THE WORLD ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNALISTS E-GROUP