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Field trials of genetically-modified eggplant opposed
12-August-2011 ABS-CBN News
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MANILA, Philippines - The government should stop field trials in the Philippines on GMO (genetically modified organism) crops, an environmental group said Friday.

Greenpeace International, in a press statement, said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala should "put his words into action" and make sure that GMO crops that have yet to be proven safe are not released into the environment.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia official Daniel Ocampo also urged Alcala to order an investigation into those pushing for field trials of GMOs.

In a media forum in Davao City earlier this week, Alcala is said to have reiterated that he would never give approve planting of genetically engineered "Bt talong," unless there is a "100 percent guarantee" of its safety.

"Greenpeace is thus questioning why the field trials are still pushing through despite sorely lacking safety processes, the apparent pointlessness of the exercise, and the opposition of so many sectors to these field trials," Ocampo said.

The genetically modified eggplant allegedly has "built-in pesticide."

"If Secretary Alcala is really resolute in preventing the spread of unproven GMOs during his term, he should order the immediate halt of these field trials, see for himself how they put other crops at risk, and investigate how the proponents have been skirting around the requirement of doing conclusive risk assessment in confined laboratory conditions and the opposition of farmers, scientists, community groups and even LGUs (local government units) that have already passed ordinances against these field trials," Ocampo said.

In a public hearing held last week by the House of Representatives' Committee on Agriculture and Food, GMO proponents reportedly failed to show independent risk assessments that are required prior to letting GMO crops out in open fields.

During the hearing, various groups such as farmers-scientists organization MASIPAG, community rights watchdog SEARICE, consumer advocacy group Consumer Rights for Safe Food said poor regulations in the Philippines are allowing rejected GMO technologies from other countries into the country.

This week, the Davao City council reaffirmed its position on a resolution it released last year banning the field trials, by rejecting another appeal by Professor Gerardo Santos of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Mindanao to reconsider the ban.

Other news about Bt eggplant development in the Philippines, click here.

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