Asia's Farmers Say No to GM Rice

After 41 Years: "IRRI has nowhere near achieved food sufficiency in Asia"

The International Rice Research Institute has been pushing research for
rice genetic engineering to the detriment of both farmers and consumers
and despite the presence of safe and sustainable alternatives.

"The Vitamin A rice is just one of the golden promises of IRRI to bring
health and bounty to the world through genetic engineering," said
Abigail Verdillo, advocacy officer of the Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para
sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Masipag).

"The grim scenario of a future succumbing to malnutrition, famine and
deaths due to over-exploding global population without enough food to
eat, caught them up in an illusion that IRRI's technology is indeed the
most sensible path to take," said Verdillo.

"But there is substantial evidence to prove that the risks of
genetically modifies crops to the environment and health are real, and
its impact to small farmers, the most vulnerable sector, is even more
disturbing," said Verdillo.

Today's Gene Revolution has its root from IRRI's industrial farming
model of the Green Revolution -- both claimed to be heading towards
bringing food security to the world.

"However, the history that was Green Revolution tells us that inspite of
and despite of the leaps and bounds in grain production and yields in
many developing countries, poverty and hunger persisted unabated," said
Elenita Dao, executive director of the South East Asia Regional
Institute for Community Education (SEARICE).

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics show that despite
the phenomenal 114 percent increase in rice production, the number of
hungry people in Asia increased by 11 percent in the 30 years of Green
Revolution.

"These bitter lessons glaringly tell us that increases in food
production will not solve hunger," Dao said, adding that "technological
innovations in agriculture is the wrong solution to the problem of
hunger which is accurately rooted on unequal distribution of wealth and
inequitable access to resources."

"After 41 years, IRRI has nowhere near achieved food sufficiency in
Asia. Instead, it has restructured sound traditional agricultural
practices to become dependent and subjugated to chemical inputs which
are products of TNC-controlled agri-business," said Rafael Mariano,
chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

"IRRI's chemical dependent seeds and intensive capital input high
yielding varieties (HYVs) had eroded the traditional rice varieties
(TRVs) of Filipino rice farmers and had a negative impact on the
ecological system of agricultural lands," said Mariano.

Leopoldo Guilaran, a farmer-member of Masipag from Negros Occidental,
accused IRRI of being unresponsive and irresponsible in its agricultural
researches.

"Safe and alternative methods of farming exist but IRRI still refuses to
acknowledge them beyond mere lip service," said Guilaran.

"Transgenic rice does not answer the more pressing needs of farmers nor
is it able to enhance our strenghts and resources," said Guilaran.
"Instead, it preys upon farmers' innocence, weakness and poverty."

Meanwhile, Mariano also accused IRRI of "complete disregard for its
workers because of its immunity granted by former President Marcos."

Mariano said that under PD 1620, IRRI was able to repressed and
oppressed their workers. "They can easily fire them at will and deny
accountability over the prevalence of terminal diseases (e.g. Parkinson
diseases and cancer) among its workers caused by the toxic chemicals
applied by IRRI."

Since 1975 215 persons from the IRRI community died due to toxic
chemicals, said Mariano.

Masipag News & Views is an occasional information release of the Farmer Scientist Partnership for Development (MASIPAG). This report, in whole or in part, could be freely published.

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AMP Section Name:Food and Agriculture
  • 181 Food and Agriculture

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