MANILA, Philippines - Two lawmakers questioned yesterday a
multinational firm’s field testing of genetically modified
eggplants in violation of law.
In separate statements, Reps. Teodoro Casiño of Bayan
Muna and Arthur Yap of Bohol called for the immediate suspension
of Bacillus Thuringiensis’s field tests due to possible
hazards on human health and the environment.
The procedure was in violation of the law on organic agriculture,
The House of Representatives will conduct an inquiry on the
testing of the genetically modified eggplant, the lawmakers
Casiño has filed House Resolution 237 for the committee
on agriculture and food to immediately probe field testing.
“I call on the government proponents of Bt eggplant to
stop all these tests as these are illegal at the least and can
give rise to agricultural and health anomalies in the near future,”
“It is best to have our eggplants all natural and safe.
I also have this to say to foreign biotech companies: Don’t
touch my talong (eggplant).”
Casiño said the Bt eggplant is now being field-tested
in seven sites: Sta. Maria, Pangasinan; Bae, Laguna; Pili, Camarines
Sur; Baybay, Leyte; Sta. Barbara, Iloilo; University of the
Philippines Mindanao, Davao City; and Kabacan, North Cotabato
by Maharastra Hybrid Seeds Co. Ltd. (Mahyco) and is allegedly
intended for commercial release in 2011.
Mahyco is affiliated with Monsanto, a US-based biotech company
which introduced the controversial Bt corn in the country, he
Casiño said GMO is an organism that has been altered
genetically, typically through the transfer of DNA, a gene-carrying
molecule, from another organism. “Alterations result in
new characteristics not naturally belonging to that organism
and this can be dangerous,” he said.
“This is what the government proponents of Bt eggplant,
particularly the Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Plant
Industry (BPI), and some state colleges and universities do
Casiño said the Bt eggplant field testing violates Republic
Act 10068, the Organic Agriculture Act which bans the use of
genetically modified organisms (GMO), and the Cartagena Protocol
on Biosafety to which the Philippines is a signatory.
“In light of the Feb. 9, 2010 decision of the Indian
Ministry of Environment and Forests to declare a moratorium
on further distribution and commercialization of Bt eggplant
in India, it would be prudent for the Philippines to stop all
testing of the crop,” he said.
Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) is a toxin-producing germ which,
when embedded into eggplant, causes it to become resistant to
the Philippine Fruit and Shoot Borer (FSB).
The Bt eggplant is a GMO designed to produce an insecticide
in order to fight insects.
This insecticide is present in the whole plant and is concentrated
in the fruit.