On the 9th Anniversary of the Historic Uprooting that Solidified the People’s Resistance Against Golden Rice
AUGUST 8, 2022, Los Baños, Laguna | The Stop Golden Rice Network Philippines successfully launched an online solidarity action in line with the 9th anniversary of the historic uprooting of the secret Golden Rice field trials in Pili, Camarines Sur initiated by more than 400 farmers, women, youth, and consumers who decisively showed the rejection of the people against the genetically modified rice and to once again register the people’s call to stop the entry of Golden Rice in the Philippines.
Amid the historic uprooting of the Golden Rice reverberating across the globe and crystallizing the peoples’ resistance and opposition against the corporate-driven Golden Rice that effectively halted the planned commercialization in 2013, proponents of the harmful rice still pushed with its implementation with a new application submitted back in 2017.
With the recent developments of the stubborn implementation of Golden Rice in the Philippines despite unanswered genuine and scientific inquiries coming from farmers, scientists, civil society organizations, consumers, and individuals on its possible dangers and harms of Golden Rice both in the rice biodiversity, health and livelihood of the local stakeholders, the Stop Golden Rice Network has once again registered its call to once and for all stop its entry in the Philippines.
Golden Rice–a genetically modified crop branded by corporations as a solution to Vitamin A deficiency in the country–has long been opposed based on its inability to actually give adequate amount of Vitamin A due to its negligible beta-carotene content , lack of independent, long-term, and comprehensive safety tests, and the possibility of irreversibly contaminating local varieties of rice which may lead to the extinction of environmentally apt and naturally resilient traditional and farmer-bred rice varieties thus will also negatively affect the farmers’ already unlivable income thru low crop yield.
The online solidarity action was attended by allied local and international organizations, farmers, consumers, and former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines) chairman emeritus Ka Paeng Mariano.
“[T]he Peasant Movement of the Philippines will request the representatives of the Makabayan bloc in the Congress to look into the inconsistent and unfair final revisions of the Joint Department Circular no. 1 of 2016 that enables the entry of Golden Rice in the country. And if necessary and warranted, we will request to halt all the process concerning its implementation- be it field trials and feeding trials.” said Mariano during the program.
Pavel Partha, coordinator of Bangladesh Resource Center for Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK) and also a member of the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty also stands in solidarity with the Filipino people in resisting Golden Rice as the same harmful rice is being implemented in Bangladesh. Citing the sour experience of the Bangladeshi people during the Green Revolution, Partha explains how Bangladesh lost most of its local land rice varieties from the 20,000 local rice varieties that Bangladesh possessed upon the entry of GMO rice such as the Golden rice.
“[N]ow the Bangladesh rice research institute and the farmers are conserving more than 8000 local rice varieties in Bangladesh. We don’t need any genetically engineered rice like Golden Rice. We resist the Golden Rice as it is the neoliberal corporate control and genetic aggression in our land, agriculture and food system. What we want is food for all living beings through sustainable means.” Pavel asserted.
A nationwide action resisting the entry of Golden Rice initiated by farmers all across the Philippines
The online solidarity action is only one of the many protest actions being conducted all around the Philippines for the 9th year anniversary of the historic uprooting. Led by farmer-leaders from the deployment areas of Golden Rice, the initiated series of local protests actions in the pilot deployment areas aim to lobby for favorable policies that would halt the entry of Golden Rice in their respective municipalities.
BICOL REGION | Sarong Inisyatiba para Wasakon ang Lasong GMO (SIKWAL-GMO), a regional alliance in Bicol against GMO published a statement in line with their forum for today entitled “Panganib at Epekto ng Golden Rice sa Bicol” (The Dangers and Effects of Golden Rice in Bicol) in Naga City. Citing that the problem of hunger and vitamin A deficiency will be oversimplified and therefore be “solved” on a band-aid solution level only by the Golden Rice, SIKWAL-GMO reiterates its regional collective call to halt and resist the pilot deployment and feeding testing of Golden Rice in the Bicol region.
MINDANAO | Small and organic farmers from Mindanao through Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) released a statement today against the pilot scale deployment of Golden Rice in Mindanao. GB Villocino, representative of the Mindanao farmers who attended the online solidarity action said that “the commercialization of GM rice (Golden Rice) could not come at a worse timing. At a time when synthetic inputs, fuel and labor costs are so high, Mindanao farmers do not need another lab grown product that corporations want them to plant. If anything, the priorities should be more sustainable solutions that put the welfare of the farmers and the environment at its core.”
VISAYAS | On the same day, the MASIPAG Visayas farmers along with Panay Alliance of Concerned Citizens for Environmental Protection (PACCEP), an alliance of consumers, farmers, urban poor sectors, church and academe, held a picket-dialogue with the Department of Agriculture Regional Office 6 in Hamungaya, Jaro to register their opposition to the ongoing commercialization of golden rice in the island. The group also submitted its gathered petitions against golden rice to the department pointing out that the health impact assessment conducted by the Department of Health on golden rice showed that only 4 of 48 questions have an answer while the rest were answered “not applicable”.
An International Concern: Golden Rice and the push for GMOs won’t solve food crisis, it will make it worse
In a solidarity statement delivered by the Stop Golden Rice Network Asia thru Ilang-Ilang Quijano from Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PANAP) during the online solidarity action, the regional network cals for the rejection of the Golden Rice Project implementation in Asia as the development of genetically modified crops like Golden Rice for solving health issues represents a worrisome push for top-down, reductionist, and anti-diversity approaches to food and health that will ultimately undermine people’s capacities to strengthen their local food systems. “By emphasizing dependence on just a few market-based crops, biofortification actually promotes a poor diet with little nutritional diversity. It does not solve the issue of hunger or malnutrition but rather makes it worse.” said Quijano.
WE STAND TO THE assertion that the problem of malnutrition that the golden rice promises to solve can only be answered by transforming agriculture that places farmers at the center of it–promoting organic and sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture that is anchored in the principles of farmer-led agroecology ultimately achieving diverse, accessible, safe, adequate and nutritious food for all. We call on the Filipino peoples to reject Golden Rice and resist intensifying corporate control in our food and agriculture. We challenge incumbent public officials, the agriculture secretary and newly-elected president included, to heed the demands of Filipino farmers and consumers to put an end to this project. Uphold the people’s rights to food and a healthy and balanced ecology. Defend and assert our land, food and seed sovereignty.
Our land, Our Food, Our Rice!