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Eggplant war: Scientists defend GMO in the Philippes

Monday, May 7, 2012 4:20
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PHILIPPINES Eggplant war: Scientists defend GMO by Helen Flores
01-May-2012 The Philippine STAR. MANILA, Philippines – Top Filipino scientists have urged the Supreme Court (SC) to junk a petition filed by environmental groups against the field testing of genetically modified (GMO) eggplant in the country.
Emil Javier, president of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and former president of the University of the Philippines, said “Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) eggplant is potentially the best environmentally friendly technology for eggplant production.”
Javier asked the high court not to act hastily but also consider the scientific side regarding the petition for the writ of kalikasan and writ of continuing mandamus filed by a group of non-government organizations (NGOs) against the field trials.
He argued that the filing of the petition “is not in the national interest, and the academy, together with UP and the mainstream, reputable scientists from the local and global community strongly support agricultural biotechnology.”
NAST, an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology, is the highest science and technology policy advisory and recognition body in the Philippines.
“Other NAST members have argued that the fears raised against Bt corn also proved to be unfounded during tests and even after Bt corn was commercialized in 2003,” he said, adding that the number of farmers cultivating Bt corn are growing.
Retired general Marcelo Blando, now a farmer in Pangasinan, said the petitioners “seem to have disregarded the voice of the farmers.”
Blando said the petitioners are not farmers themselves and that genuine farmers need agricultural technology that would greatly benefit them.
“Bt eggplant would indeed be beneficial to farmers, especially with eggplant farming being quite a profitable business,” he said.
Conventional eggplant varieties require pesticide spraying almost every other day just to ensure they are not attacked by FSB, he added.
The Bt eggplant project in the Philippines is being conducted by the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) of the UP Los Baños, a public sector research institution with the mandate of developing quality plant varieties for Filipino farmers.
Daniel Ocampo, sustainable agriculture campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said that with its built-in insect-resistance gene, Bt eggplant poses risks of creating aggressive weeds that may wreak havoc on local agriculture and natural habitats.
“Bt talong(eggplant) and other GMO crops are dangerous to human health and the environment. Scientific tests on laboratory animals fed GMO food such as Bt eggplant have shown that GMOs negatively affect their liver, kidneys and blood,” the petitioners said.

Eggplant war: Scientists defend GMO – SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center:

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