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02-June-2009 Cebu Daily News via
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Bacolod City —The Diocese of Bacolod is opposing the entry of genetically modified (GMO) products into Negros Island, Bishop Vicente Navarra said on Sunday.

In a statement, Navarra urged the provincial and city governments to implement “without fear or favor” Provincial Ordinance No. 007 and City Ordinance No. 485 that ban the entry of GMO products.

Negros Occidental and Bacolod officials should preserve the reputation of Negros as the organic food bowl of the Philippines, he said. “Do not succumb to the pressures exerted by business interest groups.”

The bishop said the hog raisers and poultry associations in the province should explore other alternatives to meet their requirements without jeopardizing the environment and the health of the people.

He also called on the people not to be carried away by the “demands and vested interest of profit-hungry groups” and instead, come up with the best method of preserving and maintaining life as originally intended by God.

Navarra also said the high inputs of fertilizers, pesticides and heavy mechanization required by GMO crops had devastating environmental effects.

Since the GMO crops are wind-pollinated, small quantities of pollen travel as far as 0.8 kilometers under suitable conditions and will likely contaminate non-GMO crops, he said, quoting a Greenpeace Southeast Asia report.

Navarra said this could result in the destruction of the natural traits of the native crops, which would ultimately lead to the destruction of the area's biodiversity.

On claims that the GMO products were safe for human consumption, the bishop said that experiments done on rats fed with GMO tomatoes showed that they had developed stomach lesions or died after two weeks on this diet.

Navarra also debunked the claim that GMO would help address world hunger and poverty.

Although GMO products have been in existence for more than two decades, statistics showed that world hunger has not abated, he said. /Inquirer

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