Writs sought vs Bt eggplant field tests, spread of GMOs

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/27 April) – Greenpeace and some individuals today filed at the Supreme Court a petition for writ of kalikasan that seeks to stop the propagation of genetically modified organisms in the country and writ of continuing mandamus against GMO field trials.

The petition for writ of kalikasan seeks to immediately stop the field trials of the GMO Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) eggplant.

The petition cited the need to take precaution “given the scientific uncertainties on the safety of GMOs,” and put into question the “flawed government regulatory process for approving GMOs.”

Petitioners added there is a need to ensure the safety of GMOs first on health and environmental
grounds before they are released into the open.

Among the petitioners are former senator Orlando Mercado, Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn, Rep. Teodoro Casiño, Dr. Charito Medina of the scientists and farmers group Magsasaka at Siyentipiko sa Pagpapaunlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG), lawyers Harry Roque and Maria Paz Luna;

Scientists Dr. Ben Malayang III of Silliman University and Dr. Romeo Quijano of University of the  Philippines (UP) Manila, Catherine Untalan of Miss Earth Foundation, Mr. Leo Avila, representing the City Government of Davao, and activist-musician Noel Cabangon.

Named respondents in the petition are the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Bureau of Plant Industry and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, UP Los Baños Foundation Inc., UP Mindanao Foundation Inc., and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications-Southeast Asia Center.

In December 2010, Davao City ordered the uprooting of Bt eggplants that were field-tested inside the campus of UP-Mindanao.

Proponents of Bt eggplant propagation said adopting the genetically modified crop will enable farmers to earn more since it promises more yield and produces its own pesticide, which means less production cost.

But the petitioners argued that no long-term studies have been conducted to prove that GMOs are safe for human consumption.

A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy available to individuals, groups, and organizations, on behalf of persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, or threatened with violation, by a private individual or entity, public official or employee, involving environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.

A writ of continuing mandamus is a legal remedy available to injured persons when any agency or officer of the government unlawfully neglects the performance of an act, excludes another from the enjoyment of rights, and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. (MindaNews)