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Fw: Stop field testing and eventual commercialization of bt eggplant!!!

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  • Ramon Padilla
    Subject: Fw: Stop field testing and eventual commercialization of bt eggplant!!! Sorry for cross posting!!! Pls. take time to read and decide if you want to
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 28 10:46 PM
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      Subject: Fw: Stop field testing and eventual commercialization of bt eggplant!!!

      Sorry for cross posting!!!

      Pls. take time to read and decide if you want to take part in this campaign to
      stop the Bt brinjal/eggplant/talong (GMO Eggplant) from being introduce and
      commercialize in the Philippines!

      Save our people and environment! This is a disaster waiting to happen ...

      Let us ACT NOW ... before it is too LATE ..



      06 August 2010

      Dear Partners, Networks, Friends and Those Who Care,


      NO2GMO, a broad and national network of CSOs in the Philippines is now
      campaigning to stop the introduction and commercialization of Bt
      brinjal/eggplant/talong in the country. This was after the Indian government
      issued a moratorium for its field testing and commercialization due to its
      possible health and environmental hazards to their country, people and
      environment. This was on top of the questionable results of the various
      experiments its proponent in India (Mahyco/Monsanto) conducted on this regard.

      Below are some facts and data for your information:

      On February 9, 2010 Jairam Ramesh, India’s Minister of Environment and Forests,
      has imposed a moratorium on the release of Bt  brinjal (eggplant) due to food
      safety, food security, and loss of biodiversity considerations. Minister Ramesh
      “It is my duty to adopt a cautious, precautionary principle-based approach and
      impose a moratorium on the release of Bt-brinjal, till such tine independent
      scientific studies establish, to the satisfaction of both the public and
      professionals, the safety of the product from the point of view of its long-term
      impact on human health and environment, including the rich genetic wealth
      existing in brinjal in our country.”
      Minister Ramesh conceded that India’ regulatory system lacks the expertise and
      autonomy required to put decisions beyond reproach. Yet he came out with a
      decision that considers long-term environmental and human costs. Let us examine
      how Ramesh arrived at this decision and compare it with what the Philippine
      regulatory agencies  are doing to “study, evaluate and regulate” the release of
      Bt eggplant in the Philippines:  
      Procedure India Philippines
      Releasing information to the public Upon receiving the Genetic Engineering
      Approval Committee (GEAC) recommending the commercialization of Bt brinjal,
      Minister Ramesh made the report of the Expert Committee immediately public.
      He straightaway uploaded said report on the website of the Ministry of
      Environment and Forests atwww.moef.gov. in
      He made all previous reports and studies on Bt brinjal be part of the public
      domain, meaning anybody can access the reports.
      He encouraged comments on the reports.   BPI released the Public Information
      Sheet for Field Testing, specifically for the field test that took place in
      Pili, Camarines Sur.

      Public participation He conducted a series of consultations in different places
      in India with scientists, agriculture experts, farmers’ organizations, consumer
      groups and serious minded NGOs. He assured that “all points of view will be
      represented in these consultations.
      Public consultations were organized by the Center for Environment Education
      (CEE), Ahmedabad (a center for excellence) in the major brinjal productions in
      India such as Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Chandigarh, Hyderabad
      and Bangalore. Almost 8,000 people from different sections in the society
      participated in these meetings. Those who attended were farmers and farmers
      organizations, scientists, state agriculture department officials, NGOs,
      consumer groups, allopathic and ayurvedic doctors, students and housewives.
      Ramesh posted the results of these meetings in the government website.
      Letters were sent to the chief ministers of West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar,
      Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka: India’s major brinjal cultivating
      states. Ramesh posted the opinion of these states in the government website.
      Ramesh sought the opinions of a number of scientists both from India and abroad.
      He also posted these opinions in the government website.
      Ramesh considered all the very large number of emails from research institutes,
      NGOs and concerned individuals that he received. ·         In Bae, Laguna where
      one of the field tests are being conducted for Bt eggplant, consent was obtained
      only from the Mayor and the Barangay officials. No pubic consultations were
      ·         The constitution requires public consultation in support of the
      people’s right to health and a healthy environment
      ·         The Local Government Code of 1991 requires public consultation of all
      projects that have environmental impact. This was not followed by the regulatory
      agencies in obtaining the field test permits.
      ·         The National Biosafety Framework outlines the procedure on genuine
      public consultation. This was not followed by the regulatory agencies in
      obtaining the field test permits
      ·         DAO 8 does not require resolutions from local gov’t. units but only
      states consent of barangay and municipality concerned will be obtained. DAO 8
      does not enumerate the procedure as to how this is obtained
      Regulatory agency The integrity of the GEAC process has been put to doubt.
      Nevertheless, the Chair of EC-II, the reviewing scientific panel of GEAC agreed
      that 8 essential tests had not been conducted by Mahyco
      India does not have a National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority. Ramesh
      asserts that this regulatory authority must be professional and science based,
      independent of the government that should have facilities for conducting the
      essential tests with integrity and impartiality.
      Ramesh said that India not having an independent regulatory authority undermines
      the regulatory functions of the GEAC. ·         The NBF provides specific
      requisites for biosafety decisions such as risk assessments made by DENR, and
      studies to ensure food safety by DOH, and others.
      ·         We have not found any information made publicly about these matters.
      ·         An analysis made by Greenpeace also found that some people in
      regulatory agencies, have been, at one time or another, connected with seed and
      chemical corporations that sell GMOs, hence, compromising biosafety decisions on
      grounds of conflict of interest.

      Publicly funded program in GM technology India does not have a very strong
      publicly-funded program in GM technology The Philippines too.

      ·         Compliance with the Cartagena Protocol which requires public
      consultations prior to the release of GM food crops and the Cartagena’s broad
      principles governing risk assessment
      ·         Compliance with Section 45 of the Codex Alimentarius “Guideline for
      the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant- DNA
      Plants” which states that
      o   the location of trial sites should be representative of the range of
      environmental conditions under which the plant varieties would be grown
      o   number of trial sites should be enough to allow accurate assessment
      o   trials could include a sufficient number of generations
      o   Each trial site should be replicated
      o   Adequate number of plants should be sampled
      o   Methods of analysis should be sufficiently sensitive and specific to detect
      differences Ramesh said GEAC did not follow these global regulatory norms to
      which India is a party. The Philippines too.

      Mandatory Labelling of GM foods India has no law on GM labeling but even if
      there is, Ramesh said mandatory labeling is impractical in India The Philippines

      Toxicity and health related tests Ramesh agrees with the Director-General of the
      Indian Council of Medical Research as well as with the Drug Controller of India
      that chronic toxicity and other associated tests must be carried out
      independently, instead of relying on just the data generated by the developers
      of GMOs.
      Ramesh added that GEAC did not consider the opinion of Indian doctors who used
      eggplant for medicinal uses. These doctors said Bt brinjal will destroy the
      medicinal properties of eggplant due to loss of synergy, differences in the
      alkaloids and other changes. We do not know if DOH conducted these tests, or has
      the capability to conduct these tests. If these tests were made, it was not
      shared to the  public.

      Judicial Action India’s Supreme court has
      ·         issued six Orders to ensure transparency and accountability in the
      functioning of GEAC.
      ·         Invoked the precautionary principle as a guiding instrument in
      environmental decisions. The Supreme in April 2010, adopted the Rules on
      environmental procedure which encourages the application of the precautionary
      approach. The rules also state that the constitutional right of the people to a
      balanced and healthful ecology shall be given the benefit of the doubt.

      How Bt brinjal/eggplant/talong reached the Philippines!!!

      Date Activity Source
      2004 The FSB-R eggplant project in the Philippines started in 2004 under
      the jurisdiction of the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines
      Newsletter of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II, Vol 6, No. I,
      March 2010.

      January 30, 2006 The license agreement for ABSP II’s Fruit and
      ShootBorer-Resistan t (FSBR) Eggplant was signed at the Conference Room of the
      Office of the
      Chancellor, University of thePhilippines, Los Banos (UPLB).
      The Agreement was among the Maharashtra Hybrid Seed
      Company (MAHYCO), represented by Dr. Brent Zehr, Joint Director for Research;
      Sathguru Management Consultancy Private Limited, represented by Director Kannan
      and UPLB, represented by Chancellor Rey Luis I. Velasco.
      Dr. Ronnie Coffman, co-director of ABSP II and director of the International
      Programs of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University,
      signed as ABSP II witness.
      Dr. Desiree Hautea, director of the Institute of Plant Breeding, UPLB
      (IPB-UPLB), signed as witness for the university.
      Also present at the ceremony were Dr. Cecilio Arboleda, Executive Director of
      UPLB-Foundation Incorporated; Dr.Enrico Supangco, Vice-Chancellor for Research
      andExtension; Dr. Rita Laude, Vice-Chancellor for Instruction; Dr. Florinia
      Merca, Director of the Office for Institutional
      Linkages; and Professor Stella Tirol, Director of Public Relations.
      The sub-licensing agreement signed by UPLB and theIndian counterparts, MAHYCO
      and Sathguru, will expedite the transfer of the seeds of the crosses produced
      between the
      MAHYCO Bt parental line and selected Philippine varieties. Likewise, the
      agreement will facilitate the commercializationin the country of the Bt eggplant
      varieties that will bedeveloped using the Bt technology from MAHYCO-Monsanto
      In the Philippines, ABSPII partners are the University of the Philippines, Los
      Baños (UPLB), University of the Philippines, Los Baños (UPLB) - Institute of
      Plant Breeding (IPB), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) - College
      of Agriculture - Crop Protection Cluster (CA-CPC), Department of Agriculture -
      Biotechnology Project Implementation Unit (DA-Biotech/PIU), and the
      International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications
      (ISAAA)[i]. Newsletter of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II, Vol
      2, No. II, April 2006. (http://www.isaaa org/programs/
      supportprojects/ abspii/download/
      ABSP_Newsletter_ vol2_no2. pdf); ABSPII Website
      December 2006 and thereabouts Contained trials at the IPB-BL2 of greenhouse
      of Fruit Shoot Borer Resistant Eggplant (FSBR Eggplant) Newsletter of the
      Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II, Vol. 3, No. I, January
      2007. http://www.isaaa org/programs/
      supportprojects/ abspii/download/
      ABSP_Newsletter_ vol3_no1. pdf
      January 2007 USAID/Philippines has joined ABSPII and its partners in the
      Philippines to provide support to meet the regulatory
      requirements for field trial and commercial release of FSBR eggplant
      and PRSV papaya. USAID/Philippines financial assistanceis being provided through
      the Economic Modernization through Efficient Reforms and Governance Enhancement
      (EMERGE) project administered by CARANA Corporation and through ISAAA
      (www.isaaa.org). Newsletter of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project
      II, Vol. 3, No. I, January 2007. http://www.isaaa org/programs/
      supportprojects/ abspii/download/
      ABSP_Newsletter_ vol3_no1. pdf
      As of January 2007 The resistance gene from Mahyco’s Bt eggplant was transferred
      to Philippine varieties and brought to IPB-UPLB
      through the assistance of ABSPII-South Asia and Mahyco. Further backcrossing is
      currently underway at IPB-UPLB. Newsletter of the Agricultural Biotechnology
      Support Project II, Vol. 3, No. I, January 2007. http://www.isaaa org/programs/
      supportprojects/ abspii/download/
      ABSP_Newsletter_ vol3_no1. pdf
      March 30, 2009 After several years of laboratory, contained and confined trials,
      the project was given its certificate of completion of contained experiment only
      on this date. Newsletter of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II,
      Vol 6, No. I, March 2010.

      2009 The proponents from UPLB submitted the proposal to the BPI Biotech Core
      Team. Since then, the BCT, through its designated Scientific and Technical
      Review Panel (STRP), allegedly has been reviewing the proposal. Newsletter of
      the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II, Vol 6, No. I, March 2010.

      March 15, 2010 BPI issued Field testing permits to UPLB to start the
      multilocation trial of the EE-1 fruit and shoot borer-resistant (FSB-R)
      eggplant. The permits issued are for the three trial sites in Luzon, namely:
      UPLB in Laguna, Sta. Maria in Pangasinan and Central Bicol State University of
      Agriculture (CBSUA) in Camarines Sur. The purpose of these field
      trials is to  allow verification and evaluation of the FSB resistance exhibited
      by EE-1 FSB-R eggplant under various
      field and agro-climatic conditions.
         Newsletter of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II, Vol 6, No.
      I, March 2010.

      June 16 and 17, 2010 BPI, ABSPII and NCBP received letters demanding for more
      information about Bt eggplant. Only the Public Information Sheet has been
      released so far

      June 28, 2010 BPI issued MIDNIGHT PERMITS for field tests for four additional
      sites, particularly in 4) Sta. Barbara, Iloilo; 5) VSU, Baybay, Leyte; 6)
      UPMindanao Davao City; and 7) University of Southern Mindanao, Kabacan, North
      Cotabato. BPI Website

      Now as you read this Primer Filipinos are in danger of exposure to the toxic Bt
      eggplant.  You can stop this from happening!

      One of the reasons why India rejected Bt eggplant is the study conducted by Pr.
      Gilles-Eric Seralini. The Seralini study, entitled “Effects on health and
      environment of transgenic (or GM) Bt brinjal” and dated January 2009 concluded
      that Bt brinjal poses dangerous risks to humans and is unfit for human
      Invalid toxicity tests. Seralini analyzed the documents submitted by Mahyco to
      support their application for commercialization of Bt brinjal in India and found
      several irregularities. He found that Bt brinjal has been modified to produce an
      unknown chimeric insecticide toxin containing Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac modified
      sequences. From the documents submitted by Mahyco, however, Seralini found
      that  Mahyco’s toxicity tests did not use the chimeric insecticide toxin
      produced by Bt bringal, but instead, an improper Cry1Ac toxin was used. That
      Mahyco used a different Bt toxin other than that contained in Bt bringal,
      Seralini said, makes the Mahyco toxicity tests invalid. Also, the researchers
      did not sign the documents as required, thereby further invalidating these
      Short term studies do not show long-term side effects of Bt toxin.Seralini also
      found that the longest time that the effects of Bt brinjal was studied was three
      months (90 days) to adult mammals: rats, rabbits, and goats. This is a very
      short time-scale upon which to estimate effects on farm animals and humans
      (babies, elderly people, disabled or healthy adults) and thus the so-called food
      and feed “safety of Bt brinjal” is non- scientifically based.
      He added that these short-term studies are not appropriate to assess
      allergenicity in humans. Consequently, the short-term studies did not yield
      scientific data that is conclusive enough to show that Bt bringal when ingested
      or applied is safe.
      Seralini also scoured over the toxicity tests submitted by Mahyco and found
      damning evidence that Bt eggplant is unsafe even among the lab rats, rabbits,
      goats and cows, fish and chickens. Let us compare the traits of the present
      eggplant varieties and the Bt eggplant.

      Characteristic Our Ordinary Eggplant Today Bt Eggplant
      Nutrition Contains Vitamin A, B, Cas well as calcium, iron, phosphorus, and
      potassium Has 15% less Kcal/ 100 g than the usual eggplant

      Medicinal properties ·         Known cure forasthma hemorrhoids,syphilis, throat
      and stomach troubles, abscesses and cracked nipples, rheumatism, foot pain[i],
      cardiovascular illnesses, and toothache, .
      ·         Also used as an antidote to poisonous mushrooms, and toothache.
      ·         Helps to lowerblood cholesterol levelsand is suitable as part of a
      diet to help regulate high blood pressure.[ii]
      ·         Obese persons whose excess weight is harmful to their heart are
      encouraged to eat eggplants. 
      ·         Eggplant contains elements that trap cholesterol in the intestine and
      cause it to be eliminated from the body. It thus helps prevent the formation of
      fatty deposits around the heart.
      ·         It is also a diuretic and relieves colic, reduces stomach ulcers and
      is considered a sedative, as well as a calmative stimulant for the liver and
        Bt brinjal has a different alkaloid content. The alkaloid in eggplants gives
      it medicinal properties.

      Antibiotic resistance   Makes people resistant to antibiotics, specifically
      kanamycin, a well known antibiotic.

      Insecticide content   16-17 mg/kg Bt insecticide toxin is found in Bt eggplant
      and this is poorly characterized for side effects

      Effects on lab animals   ·    Goats and rabbits showed appetite loss,stunted
      ·    Rats showed circling disorder and suffered diarrhea
      ·    Liver weight as well as  relative liver tobody weight ratiosignificantly
      decreased by 13% in female rats, Bt brinjal cannot be considered safe for rats
      considering these results.
      ·    Cows produced more 14.3% milk as if they were treated by a light hormone.
      ·    Toxicity tests applied to other lab animals are not conclusive because of
      the short duration of the studies.
      “Safe dosage” No such thing as safe dosage. Can be consumed everyday without
      limitation by normal persons 1g/kg, corresponding to 50-100 g for a human / day,
      5 days per week) is a safe dose level recommended by Mahyco.
      Long term side effects of eating eggplants Eggplant is considered a nutritious
      vegetable and is recommended to be part of the diet No independent scientific
      studies of the long term side effects of Bt eggplant

      ********** ********* ********* ****** PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY ************


      Urging DA Secretary PROCESO ALCALA to stop field testing and eventual
      commercialization of Bt eggplant

      To Our Most Honorable Secretary Alcala,

      SECRETARY!  We have great faith in your capabilities to hold the position,
      especially with your enduring commitment to organic farming.  We are sure that
      with you at the helm, the country’s state of agriculture will finally experience
      an escalating development towards what the country, and the whole world really

      We, civil society organizations working on various development issues across the
      Philippines, recently learned about the Development and Commercialization of
      Philippine Fruit and Shoot Borer (FSB) Resistant Eggplants Containing MAHYCO Bt
      eggplant Event being tested in 1) Sta. Maria, Pangasinan; 2) UPLB, Bay, Laguna;
      3) CSSAC, Pili, Camarines Sur; 4) Sta. Barbara, Iloilo; 5) VSU, Baybay, Leyte;
      6) UP Mindanao Davao City; and 7) University of Southern Mindanao, Kabacan,
      North Cotabato.  According to an article published on June 28, 2010 issue of
      the  Manila Bulletin,  this FSBR eggplant will be the first public-sector
      genetically modified (GM)/biotech crop product in the country and the first
      GM/biotech food crop to be cultivated in the country by 2011. Field tests in the
      seven (7) sites cited above are headed by Dr. Desiree Hautea of IPB-UPLB and is
      funded by the USAID.


      1.    No information. There is little or no information about this FSB eggplant,
      which is also called Bt eggplant.  Our calls for release of information about
      the Bt eggplant were met with silence by agencies under your supervision, such
      as the Bureau of Plant Industry. We believe that BPI, Dr. Hautea, the NCBP of
      which the DA is a member, have the obligation to release information on Bt
      eggplant because its study and eventual release will affect Filipino farmers and
      consumers.  The farmers will need to know the risks in planting Bt eggplant and
      must not be treated as a market for Bt eggplant seeds.  Moreover, the public has
      the right to know what food they consume, from where, and how they are produced.

      2.    No consultation. It is our conviction that there was very little
      transparency in the assessment and approval process done by the STRP and by BPI.
       The anonymity of the STRP members evaluating the application will even put the
      BPI’s regulatory and risk assessment processes questionable as this arrangement
      limits or provides no space at all for interested parties to comment on the
      substance and processes involved when basic information such as these are
      withheld from the public.

      3.    Contamination and Loss of Biodiversity is not a figment of the
      imagination.  Although the approval is for Food, Feed and Processing (FFP),
      there is a growing trend that approved GM commodities for FFP are eventually
      approved for propagation.  This is very alarming and it is a real threat and one
      only has to look back at what happened in Mexico where their local maize
      varieties got contaminated with Monsanto's GM corn.  It has seriously destroyed
      not only their local germplasm, but the culture and traditions of the Mexican
      people that are so embedded with it. The same happened in Hawaii and Thailand
      with GM papaya, which seriously compromised the livelihoods of many Hawaiian and
      Thai farmers, and jeopardized the countries' agricultural trade. To let this
      happen in the Philippines - and compromise our diversity and the livelihood of
      Filipino vegetable farmers - would be plainly careless and irresponsible.

      4.    Food safety and food security issues. The lack of comprehensive risk
      assessment studies on the potential impacts of GM crops on human health and the
      environment should be enough to pause and reconsider. GM crops is not a solution
      nor an answer because if we have to look back during the early stage of the GM
      debate in the country, technology developers and government agencies as well;
      once said that GMOs will solve the world problem on hunger, will give better
      yield, will make the Philippines competitive and others.  But looking at the
      array of the GM crops approved in the country, these promises are nowhere to be

      5.    We have learned that on February 9, 2010 your counterpart in India, Jairam
      Ramesh, Minister of Agriculture has imposed a moratorium on the release of Bt
       brinjal (eggplant) due to food safety, food security, and loss of biodiversity
      considerations. Minister Ramesh said:

       “It is my duty to adopt a cautious, precautionary principle-based approach and
      impose a moratorium on the release of Bt-brinjal, till such tine independent
      scientific studies establish, to the satisfaction of both the public and
      professionals, the safety of the product from the point of view of its long-term
      impact on human health and environment, including the rich genetic wealth
      existing in brinjal in our country.”

      6.    A copy of the decision of Minister Ramesh is hereto attached as Annex
      A for your perusal, Honorable Secretary. 

      WE, therefore, ask the Department of Agriculture, through the Bureau of Plant
      Industry, who are mandated to take the lead in evaluating and monitoring plant
      and plant products derived from the use of modern biotechnology, as provided in
      Department of Agriculture Administrative Order No.  008, s.2002.to:
       1.   STOP the  Multi-location trial of BT eggplant intended for
      commercialization and other events related to the development of the Bt eggplant
      and REVOKE all permits related thereto, until all scientific issues, including
      an independent risk assessment, are resolved  through independent scientific
      studies on its safety,  scientific soundness and environmental sustainability by
      credible and independent scientists. 

      2.  Release all information related to the development and testing of the Bt

      communities and sectors that will potentially be affected by this proposed
      project. 4. INVESTIGATE the biopiracy issue surrounding the use of the Dumaguete
      long purple and the Mara variety in developing the Bt eggplant in India.  We ask
      how come these Philippine varieties found their way into Indian soils? Were
      necessary procedures and requirements such as material transfer agreement (MTA)
      prescribed under the multilateral system (MLS) of the International Treaty on
      Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) to which the
      Philippines’ Department of Agriculture is a signatory complied by the Bt
      eggplant proponents?


      To signify your support, please sign the on line petition at www.searice.



      "All You Want to Know About Bt brinjal"

      Have a look at this interesting business news article: 

      All you wanted to know about Bt brinjalbusiness.rediff.com

      Read entire article >

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