“There are numerous studies on the harmful effects of GMOs but pro-GMO scientists refuse to see this. Their blindness is not caused by GMO but by the money offered by big companies.” – Dr. Romy Quijano, toxicologist
By RHENNIE N. CANTIGA
MANILA— Citing hazards to health, environment and livelihood of genetically-modified organisms, scientists and farmers reiterated their opposition to the field testing of Bacillus thuringiensis eggplant or Bt Talong.
Proponents of the BT talong recently filed motions for consideration to the decision of the Court of Appeals to stop the field testing of BT Talong.
BT Talong is a genetically modified crop wherein a microorganism is inserted into the eggplant to produce a toxin against pests. This technology was originally from India but was resisted because of the harmful effects to health and the environment found during numerous scientific studies.
Dr. Romy Quijano, a toxicologist and petitioner for the Pesticide Action Network (PAN-Philippines) against the Bt talong said scientific studies have proven the harmful effects of Bt toxins to mammals. He said that several of the mice tested developed cancer and their red blood cells and immune system were damaged.
“There are numerous studies on the harmful effects of GMOs but pro-GMO scientists refuse to see this. Their blindness is not caused by GMO but by the money offered by big companies,” Quijano said.
Quijano cited that Monsanto, an agro-industrial business involved in the production of genetically-modified crops, allegedly tampered and hid the results of scientific testing of Bt crops to present it is a perfectly safe food source, despite the harmful effects that were discovered in the same study.
He added that the issue is not just about a scientific debate but also has economic implications. The scientists claiming that Bt Talong is safe, he said, are under the influence of transnational corporations and the US government.
According to the Task Force on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (TFIP), farmers from Ifugao experienced itchiness when handling GM crops like Bt corn and several carabaos in the province died after eating parts of Bt corn.
Sr. Francis Añover of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines related that farmers in Bukidnon had already been exposed to Bt technology through the Bt Corn but they could not eat the crop because it is only used for feeds for their farm animals.
According to TFIP, Bt Talong will not and never improve the livelihood of farmers ,but instead worsens it. Moreoover, GM seeds, which cannot be replanted nor reproduced, are very expensive.
Antonio Flores, secretary general of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said that when pesticides and high-end farming methods came in the 1960s, not only were their crops badly affected but the vegetables they planted were damaged also.
“GMOs do not only damage the health and environment but also damages the livelihood of farmers who opt not to plant genetically modified crops,” Flores said.
The KMP called for a stop to the development of Bt crops not only for eggplant but for rice and corn as well.
Dr. Chito Medina of Masipag said there are studies during 2006 to 2008 that proved GMOs are not necessary in the contribution to the food supply.
The TFIP said: “Traditional varieties of crops in the country are enough to supply the food needs of the people, especially of eggplant which was never reported to be scarce”.
Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis Partylist already filed a No to GMO Bill but it has not prospered in Congress. Medina said there should also be strict biosafety legislation.