Fw: Press release on Bt talong, Masipag
- Sory for cross posting ... again!
September 3, 2010
Farmer-Scientist Group holds forum on Bt Talong at Camarines Sur, calls
for a halt of multi-location testing at CBSUA.
Pili, Camarines Sur – A farmer-scientist group, MASIPAG, have spearheaded
a forum to shed light on the developments and possible impacts of Bt Talong
to food and agriculture.
Talong, or eggplant is a popular food for Filipinos as it is very cheap
and easy to cutivate. Bt talong, however is a genetically modified eggplant
wherein genes of the Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria has been artificially
inserted to the crop to produce toxins against the Fruit and Shoot Borer.
Bt Eggplant was developed by an Indian seed company Mahyco and is
sublicensed to the Institute of Plant Breeding-UPLB. Dr Desiree Hautea of
IPB-UPLB is the proponent of the testing and commercialization of the Bt
talong in the country.
Early this year, the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA)
has been conducting field trials of the Bt talong. It has finished its
first field trial last July, however, another field trial is set to
commence this October. Data from this field trial, including the data from
five testing sites in the country shall be used as basis for the eventual
commercialization of Bt talong by 2011.
MASIPAG however, called for the immediate halt of the said field trial as
these may pose irreversible damages to the surrounding native crops and
potential health hazards to the communities.
“We call on the immediate halt of the said field trial because until
today, we have yet to receive reports if the said crop would be safe to eat
and would offer no harmful effects to the environment. If there are no
safety data, it is imperative that the field tests be stopped to protect
the surrounding communities from the potential hazards of GMOs (genetically
modified organisms), Bt talong in particular. If the field test would not
stop, it would also mean one step ahead on its commercialization” said Dr
Chito Medina, national coordinator of MASIPAG.
Medina said that these concerns were not simply perceived fears on the
crop. He referred to the earlier decision this year of the Indian Minister
on Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh wherein he has put a moratorium on
the commercialization of the Bt eggplant until scientific studies including
health and environmental safety has been established to the satisfaction of
both the public and the professionals.
“It would be very foolish if the Philippines would approve the eventual
release of Bt talong if India itself, where the Bt talong was developed,
has decided to put a moratorium on the commercialization of the crop” said
Pepito Babasa, a farmer from Bato, Camarines Sur is also very concerned on
the field tests being done at CBSUA.
“For me, I think that Bt talong is not needed by farmers. As you can see,
here in Bato the price of talong sold by farmers is only 3 pesos a kilo. I
believe that we do have a good production of talong so we do not need
another technology which is not proven safe and expensive. There are also
other alternatives to control pests. I am concerned because if the
commercialization is approved, we will eat talong without knowing if it is
has poison” he said. He also said that it could also contaminate native
talong varieties due to cross-pollination.
Gary Perlado, Masipag Luzon coordinator for Bicol also said that no
consultations or public information was done on the field test of Bt
“We have interviewed the Municipal Agriculturist Office and even the Mayor
of Pili and they all said that they did not know that field tests are being
done at CBSUA. It is stated that the proponents should inform the
municipality and that a resolution be made approving the field tests” said
“We hope that by doing this forum, we could enlighten CBSUA and the
Bicolanos on the hazards of the field tests of Bt talong. We also urge the
president of CBSUA to immediately stop the 2nd planting of Bt talong this
October and look into the issues surrounding GMOs. We also know that CBSUA
is gearing to be the center of organic agriculture in the province.
However, organic agriculture forbids the planting of GMOs. This would
contradict the university’s vision to be a center for organic agriculture”
MASIPAG claimed that because of loose regulations on biosafety, the
Philippines tops other Asian countries in approving the importation of a
number of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Bt talong is said to be
the first Genetically Modified crop developed by a public institute in the
country and the first to approve the commercialization of Bt eggplant in
MASIPAG is a Filipino farmer’s network that practices sustainable
agriculture, genetic conservation and sharing of farmer knowledge for more
than twenty years. Created during the height of food insecurity and debt
trap of the green revolution, the group dared to unmask the myths of IRRI’s
miracle seeds and its package of technologies and to revive and improve
indigenous rice varieties that would not require imported inputs and
generate appropriate technologies attuned to farmer’s problems and needs.
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