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UP-Min to re-assess position on Bt-Talong
by Kristianne Fusilero
20-December-2010 Mindanao Times
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THE University of the Philippines-Mindanao (UP-Min) has yet to re-assess its position on the genetically-modified eggplant even as it followed the order of the city government to uproot the plants that marked the end of its field trial.

UPMin vice chancellor Vicente Calag said in a phone interview over the weekend that the university will look into the details and facts of the recent events that happened before they could issue a statement.

“As of the moment, we could not categorize any concrete action to be done next,” Calag added as the university has a mandatory Christmas break starting Wednesday until January 3.

However, some students were outraged when they knew about the genetically-modified eggplants being uprooted. Some also felt bad that it happened on the same day of Kasadya, UPMin’s annual lantern parade.

“They must know that UP in Davao is not UP Davao… it’s UP Mindanao. Thus, we are not yours, dorks! Leave the BT Talong,” a student posted on her status on a social networking website.

Other students who were enrolled in biotechnology class of Prof. Eufemio Rasco Jr. also came out with a poster that read: “We won’t stand against [the Bt eggplant project] because we fully understand what [it is] all about.”

Rasco and University of the Philippines-Mindanao Chancellor Gilda Rivero were still out of town and could not be reached for comment.

Other red and white posters also read, “Avila, respect our talong and respect academic freedom” were hung in the fence of the testing site, in reference to Leonardo Avila III, acting head of the City Agriculturist Office.

Meanwhile, the Greenpeace Philippines social networking website fans rejoiced over the good news. Last Friday, in a press statement, Greenpeace praised the city government for issuing a cease-and-desist order against the Bt eggplant field trial.

On Friday, about 2,000 Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) eggplants were finally uprooted from the testing site of the university in Bago Oshiro, Mintal as a result of the December 13 order of Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio.

Avila said in a phone interview that the activity finished at exactly 2:15 pm on Saturday. He said it was the people of the community as hired by the city government who finished the job.

“We hired 20 people from the community, to dig a hole, uproot and chopped the Bt eggplants. The mayor paid them,” Avila said, adding that each of the volunteer received P500.

Avila said the project team did the symbolic act on uprooting the specimens on Friday.

The mayor ordered the uprooting of the plants, claiming the university failed to comply with the requirements in the conduct of the field test. (WITH REPORT BY JESSE P BOGA)

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