User Bar First

This is a debugging block

User Bar Second

This is a debugging block

Branding

This is a debugging block

Header First

This is a debugging block

Header Second

This is a debugging block

Preface First

This is a debugging block

Preface Second

This is a debugging block

Preface Third

This is a debugging block

Content

This is a debugging block

Uprooting "Golden Rice": PAN AP hails Filipino farmers as food sovereignty heroes
by Arnold Padilla
Feature Story
Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 04:30

PENANG, Malaysia - "Golden Rice is nothing but a poison that will kill the people and agriculture. It wouldn't work as promised."

So declared Filipino peasant leader Wilfredo Marbella who was among the 400 farmers that uprooted the controversial Golden Rice planted in an 800-square meter experimental farm of the Philippines' Department of Agriculture (DA) last 8 August.

The bold move was hailed by activists and advocates of food sovereignty and biodiversity-based ecological agriculture in the region, including the Penang-based regional advocacy group Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP).

"What the Filipino farmers did was a brave display of commitment to fight harmful and profit-oriented technology that promotes corporate monopoly control over seed resources while compromising the environment and impoverishing the small food producers," said Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director of PAN AP.

Led by the Peasant Movement of Bicol (KMB), a regional chapter of the Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP), and the local multisectoral alliance Sikwal-GMO, some 400 farmers trooped to an experimental farm in the town of Pili in Camarines Sur province (more than 280 kilometers south of Manila) to uproot the Golden Rice. The uprooting was in protest of the Philippine government's program on developing a rice variety genetically engineered (GE) to produce beta carotene to supposedly reduce Vitamin A deficiency in the country.

KMP, a two-million strong national alliance of Filipino landless peasants, small farmers, farm workers, rural youth and women, is among the 80 partner organizations of the PAN AP that will attend the latter's three-day Congress in Penang next week.

"Contrary to being vandals as depicted by rice officials of the Philippines, the Filipino farmers who uprooted the Golden Rice are heroes of food sovereignty. If such courageous action is what it takes for authorities to take notice of the widespread public opposition to GE crops, then we encourage every food sovereignty advocate to do the same," Rengam declared.

The Golden Rice project is being carried out by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice). Transnational agrochemical giant Syngenta owns the patent over the Golden Rice technology.

Marbella said that the Golden Rice will pave the way for widespread control of TNCs in agriculture and food by patenting seeds and varieties. "In the guise of addressing vitamin A deficiency, IRRI and Syngenta are hell-bent in promoting the Golden Rice. But the truth is they only want super-profits and control over agriculture, not to solve hunger, malnutrition and poverty," asserted Marbella, KMP's deputy secretary-general.

For her part, Rengam noted that PAN AP has always been a staunch campaigner against GE crops, especially genetically modified rice. As part of its Save Our Rice Campaign, the group launched in 2007 the Week of Rice Action (WORA) with hundreds of network partner organizations in 13 countries in Asia and collected one million signatures to demand, among others, the rejection of GE/GM rice while the 2008 WORA, also carried out in 13 Asian countries, carried the theme "No to GE (Genetically Engineered) Rice in Asia". These efforts continued with the Year of Rice Action (YORA) in 15 Asian countries in 2009-2010 and the Collective Rice Action (CORA) in 2011 and 2012 among others.

The PAN AP official said that the Save Our Rice Campaign is continuing to build awareness on the negative impacts of GE rice/crops and getting policy-makers and the public to oppose it. Along with its other advocacies, the rice advocacy campaign shall be revisited and strengthened when PAN AP holds its third Congress from September 2 to 4 in Penang with the theme "Empowering Communities, Protecting the Environment and Building Sustainable Livelihoods".

"We will not stop until we ensure that our rice is safe and our food sovereignty is protected from the greed of big agrochemical corporations," Rengam declared.

(For additional information about the PAN AP Congress and its advocacy work against Golden Rice and GE/GM crops, please contact Vasentha Sampasivam at vasentha.sampasivam@panap.net)

Postscript First

This is a debugging block

Postscript Second

This is a debugging block

Postscript Third

This is a debugging block