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PHILIPPINES Savants dispute grounds
for issuing kalikasan writ by Macon Ramos-Araneta
16-May-2012 Manila Standard Today View
THERE is no basis for the contention
raised by international environmental group Greenpeace in
its petition filed with the Supreme Court that Bacillus
thuringiensis (Bt) eggplants, a genetically modified variety
that produces its own pesticide, is dangerous to health, damaging
human internal organs particularly the liver and kidney.
Academy of Science and Technology president Emil Javier
said at a press conference at the Traders Hotel Manila on
Tuesday that the effects that Bt eggplant purportedly had
on experimental mice are not comparable with the effects
on human being.
NAST is the highest science and technology advisory and
recognition body of the scientific community in the country.
He said the pure protein crystals from the Bt eggplant
administered to mice was done by injection which is not
the common way this should be given to human. He said humans
take eggplant orally.
Furthermore, Javier explained that while the mice received
100 microorganisms of pure crystal protein, a human being
must eat 2,000 kilograms of eggplant a day to receive this
kind of experimental result.
In seeking a writ of kalikasan, which was issued by the
High Court last Monday, Greenpeace alleged Bt could endanger
the health of consumers.
A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy designed for the
protection of one’s constitutional right to a healthy environment.
Javier said the Bt eggplant project in the country is being
conducted by the Institute of Plant Breeding of the UP Los
Banos, a public sector research institution with the mandate
of developing quality plant varieties for Filipino farmers.
Proponents and scientist have been pointing out that Bt
eggplant field trials are being done to find out the truth
about its perform.
“Hindering this experiment is similar to snatching a safe,
potential medicine to food insecurity,” they said.
Javier expressed confidence the Supreme Court will not
act rashly but rather consider the scientific side regarding
the petition for the writ of kalikasan and writ of continuing
mandamus filed by a group of non-government organizations
against Bt eggplant multi-location field trials.
He described Greenpeace’s filing of the petition as contrary
to national interest.
Contrary to the baseless allegations of the petitioners,
Javier claimed Bt eggplant is potentially the best environmentally
friendly technology for eggplant production.
Greenpeace also said that with its built-in insect-resistance
gene, Bt eggplant can also create aggressive weeds that
may wreak havoc to local agriculture and natural habitats.
Dr. Desiree Hautea, regional coordinator of Agricultural
Biotechnology Support Project II and project leader of Bt
eggplant, said the excessive and improper use of chemical
insecticides are health hazards.
She said in the case of eggplants, they should be sprayed
with insecticide on the average of 80 times per season,
or every other day, just to rid farmers of borers. Some
even dip the unharvested eggplant fruits in cocktail mix
of chemicals just to ensure having marketable produce and
Saying that eggplant is the No. 1 vegetable in the country
in terms of production, she said that in Pangasinan alone,
95 percent of the eggplant production is being discarded
due to insects that infest the crop.
The use of Bt eggplant will give eggplant growers more
than 10 times the usual yield of farmers who use spray insecticide.
SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center UPLB Campus 4031, Los Baños, Laguna, PHILIPPINES
Telephone +6349 536 2290 ext. 406 / 169 / 135
Fax +6349 536 4105
SEARCA BIC is one of the biotechnology information nodes of the International
Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications Global Knowledge
Center (ISAAA KC) and hosted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center
for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA). It was officially
established in 2000 to address the needs of the region for a highly
credible, sound and factual biotechnology information center in the
Southeast Asian region accessible to various stakeholders.