Farmers hit out at Rice Research Institute's "hypocrisy"
June 19, 2001
Spokesperson, International Alliance Against Agro-chem TNCs
The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today lambasted the Los BaÃ±os, Laguna based International Rice Research Institute's (IRRI) "hypocrisy" for launching its so-called campaign against the use of pesticides in rice production due to the health impact of chemical pesticides to farmers health. The peasant group said the "campaign" is a part of a PR strategy by bio-tech companies to generate public acceptance for genetically engineered (GE) seeds and food for the benefit of gene giants and agro-chemical transnational corporations (agro-chem TNCs).
The group also attacked IRRI for playing a major role in the Green Revolution program during the early 1970's. It's researches and promotion of High-Yielding Varieties (HYVs) resulted in small farmers' intensive use of pesticides stating that from 1972-1978 pesticide importation grew fivefold. It added that 9 out of 13 big pesticide companies in the Philippines are foreign and control 85 percent of the market that further strengthened TNC control in the country's agriculture.
KMP chair Rafael Mariano said "IRRI promotes bio-tech companies' genetically engineered (GE) seeds and relies on financing from chemical pesticide producing countries where major pesticide manufacturers and agro-chem TNCs are based, like Monsanto of the US and Syngenta of Switzerland. IRRI's research projects under various "partnership" arrangements directly serves the interests of these agro-chem TNCs."
"The so-called campaign against the use of pesticides is IRRI's hypocrisy and a desperate attempt to condition the minds of the people on GE seeds and foods. They want both farmers and consumers to believe that no more pesticides are needed with the use of GE seeds like the "golden rice", BB rice and Bt-corn and is "safe" for public consumption," the peasant leader added.
"There is a growing movement and opposition from farmers and like-minded scientists in the Philippines and around the world against the use of GE seeds and agro-chem TNC's. IRRI's rotten PR strategy can no longer deceive the peasantry and the consuming public. IRRI's closure is a step to prevent the use of chemical pesticides," dared Mariano, who is also the spokesperson of the International Alliance Against Agro-Chem TNCs (IAAATNC).
The KMP also chided IRRI for citing the Hanover, Germany based Institute of Agricultural Economics findings that nearly 40,000 farmers suffer from various degrees of pesticide poisoning. IRRI can find many examples of pesticide poisoning-related deaths and illnesses in their own backyard and nearby communities in Los BaÃ±os.
The latest of which happened last June 12 when 64 year-old Benigno Carandang, who served IRRI as a field worker for 23 years, died from kidney failure. As a field worker in IRRI, Carandang's job was to apply pesticides against rats and snails in IRRI's experimental farms that they grabbed from the farmers.
The IRRI evades its accountability on the illnesses and deaths suffered by former IRRI workers and residents in the nearby communities," KMP chided.
Last June 8, the KMP demanded that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo immediately repeal Presidential Decree 1620 (PD 1620) issued by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos which grants IRRI immunity from any penal, civil and administrative proceedings. It is a clear manifestation of foreign control and plunder over the national patrimony and infringement of national sovereignty of the Philippines. ###
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Peasant Movement of the Philippines URL: http://www.geocities.com/kmp_ph