Greenpeace commends Court ruling to stop field trials of ‘Bt talong’

QUEZON CITY (24 May 2013)- Greenpeace welcomes the ruling issued by the Court of Appeals that granted the ‘Writ of Kalikasan’ to stop the field trials of Bt eggplant.

In their decision, the court ordered the respondents to “permanently cease and desist from further conducting Bt talong field trials” and “protect, preserve, rehabilitate and restore the environment in accordance with the foregoing judgement of the court.”

“We commend the Court of Appeals for living up to its constitutionally-mandated role as protector of constitutional rights,” said Daniel Ocampo, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner.

“This landmark decision reflects that there are indeed flaws and lapses in the current regulatory process for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) such as Bt eggplant which exposes our environment and health to unknown long-term consequences and does not establish their safety in any way,” stressed Ocampo.

The Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy under the new rules of procedure for environmental cases. The 25-page decision highlighted that the decision was based on submissions from both the respondents and the petitioners. After more than a year of court deliberations, the Court of Appeals ruled in the favor of petitioners on the following compelling grounds:

1) The Precautionary Principle safeguards the environment from technologies that will have far reaching impacts when their long-term safety is still not ascertained;

2) The issue of irreversibility of releasing GMOs into the environment even during field trials and despite alleged compliance to existing protocols;

3) Vetting protocols should not be confined within the realm of science but should be brought into the realm of public policy since other sectors beyond the agricultural sector could stand to be affected as propounded by Dr. Ben Malayang, former member of the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines; and

4) Current field testing protocols looks at efficacy and agricultural performance and not safety for human consumption or environment.

Atty. Zelda DT Soriano, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Regional Political Advisor, pointed out, “the respondents could not prove wrong the fact that Bt talong field testing is an environmental case where scientific evidence as to the health, environmental and socio-economic safety is insufficient, inconclusive or uncertain and preliminary evaluation indicates that there are reasonable grounds for concern that there are potentially dangerous effects on the environment and human health.”

Atty. Soriano explains that for the same scientific uncertainties and health concerns the governments of India, China, Thailand, Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Ireland, Peru, Kenya, Tasmania, Australia, Egypt, Algeria, Angola, Benin, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, Switzerland, Russia and Mexico banned the release of genetically modified crops into their environments and/or the importation for food and processing.

Ocampo added that the decision made by the Court of Appeals will have a resounding impact on the future of agriculture in the Philippines and how food production is done in our country. Ocampo argued that the court’s decision affirms what Greenpeace has been saying for years about the flaws on GMO regulations in the country.

“These flaws in the government regulations have led to the sad state we are in – 62 GMOS are imported and fed to Filipinos without their knowledge and consent. While the environment and our farmers are exposed to 8 kinds of GMOs that are allowed for propagation without knowing their long-term impacts,” stressed Ocampo. (Greenpeace)