ILOILO City – Concerned farmers, scientists and consumers today detest the “railroading” of the Joint Department Circular (JDC) on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) drafted by the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Departmenr of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
“Concerned government agencies rushed the conduct of “consultation meetings” in three main island regions for the drafting of the new joint administrative order, and in the process, depriving the public of the right to meaningful participation,” Panay Alliance of Concerned Citizens for Environmental Protection (PACCEP) spokesperson Michelle Joy Navarro said.
The JDC, that is planned for signing before February ends, aims to replace DA’s administrative order 08-2002 which was nullified by the Supreme Court last December 8, 2015 permanently banning the field testing of BT-eggplant.
The court order cited precautionary principle and temporarily stopped any application for contained use, field testing, propagation, commercialization, and importation of GMOs.
Navarro added that notice of consultation was sent out just two days before the event with no copy of the draft AO provided to groups critical to GMOs. Only reference documents were provided to civil service organizations and other groups before the public consultations.
“The present consultations are being rushed to come up with a JDC are not addressing civil society groups’ main concerns in protecting the public from the risks posed by GMOs on human and animal health and to the environment,” she said.
PACCEP noticed that consultation meetings were “dominated” by known GMO promoters, including representatives from Syngenta and Monsanto, while other sectors, including farmers and consumers were minimal.
“The new JDC is in favour to the best interests of traders and importers of GM products, not that of farmers and consumers.”
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) also exposed that the government is fast tracking the said joint administrative order because import permits for specific genetically modified products are set to expire this year, particularly that of genetically modified soya by March.
The environmental group stressed that the new policy should take into consideration not only the impacts on trade and importation, but the long term effects to the people’s health and environment.
“GMOs not only affect the livelihood of the farmers, but it could have irreversible impacts, not to mention that the health safety is not yet established.”
“We call on the government to live up to its mandate in exercising the precautionary principle and upholding above all else the welfare and interest of the Filipino people,” said Navarro.
The group also demanded for the extension, expansion and improvement of the on-going process of approval of the DA-DENR-DOH-DOST-DILG-DTI-DFA Joint Department Circular No.1./PT