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The Philippine government's lax rules on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have practically allowed big agriculture companies to use its population as guinea pigs, one of the world's leading experts on GMOs said.
Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini, who was in Manila this week for a series of forum with Greenpeace, said more than 58 varieties of GMO crops have been given approval by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to be imported to the Philippines despite the absence of scientific proof that these crops are safe for consumption.
“At the most basic level, science requires that experiments adhere to the Precautionary Principle, which means that whenever scientific consensus is not reached regarding possible harmful effects of an action or policy, those taking the action or implementing the policy are required to protect the public and have the burden of proof to eliminate plausible harm,” said Seralini.
“Unfortunately, existing Philippine regulatory policies do not really require GMO proponents to produce thorough and convincing scientific proof that GMOs pose no hazards on human health and the environment.”
Seralini said the GMO crops that enter the Philippines are corn and feeds for livestock. As such, they eventually end up eaten by Filipinos, he said.
The molecular biologist, who also serves as president of the Scientific Council for Independent Research on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN), lamented the Philippine government's move to allow the sale of GMO crops to the public. Seralini noted that the government’s lax policy on GMO approvals will inevitably lead to “using Filipino kids as guinea pigs!”
He noted that the country is the first and only country in Asia to have allowed a GMO food crop to be commercially planted. The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), the government agency tasked with regulating GMOs, has also approved 67 additional genetic modifications of plants, or “transformation events.”
He stressed that scientific analyses of GMO experimental data reveal evidence of their negative impacts on animal health. For example, he cites a ninety day test on rats conducted by the GMO developers themselves, which shows signs of toxicity in the livers and kidneys of mammals eating commercialized or pre-commercialized GMOs, such as soya, corn or eggplant filled with herbicides or insecticides (mostly Roundup Ready or Bt plants).
Daniel Ocampo, Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner for sustainable agriculture, lambasted the government's acceptance of GMO products without demanding proof from the companies that the crops are safe for human consumption.
“It is dangerous and irresponsible policy to allow the environmental releases of GMOs, especially when their long-term safety has yet to be scientifically established. Releasing these risky crops into our environment and into our diets could have far reaching and irreversible consequences on human health, ecological integrity and food security,” he said. — TJD, GMA News