Bicol safe-food advocates, agriculture farming stakeholders, and rights groups took a united stand on Monday to oppose the government Golden Rice program and its planned feeding test and deployment implementation.
The gathering was held in Naga City, Camarines Sur.
Their united declaration calls for opposing and resisting the PILOT DEPLOYMENT AND FEEDING TEST OF GOLDEN RICE in Bicol and in the entire country.
Golden Rice is not a safe food, bad for human health, and harmful to the environment, the group declared.
“This is not the answer to the poverty of farmers and food shortages affecting many Bikolanos and the rest of the people,,” said the group that organized themselves into SIKWAL – GMO (BICOL ALLIANCE AGAINST GMO).
Foreign control of agriculture
“We oppose foreign control of agriculture and the Agrochemical Transnational Corporations that are main actors in advancing it in collaboration with government agencies, particularly the Department of Agriculture, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and PhilRice”, declared the group.
Problem on vanishing, shrinking farmlands
“We oppose the widespread conversion of agricultural land to commercial, industrial, and residential uses resulting in the absence or reduction of farmland for the staple food (rice) and products of Bicol farmers,” Sikwal-GMO added.
The group said hunger is caused by many problems – mainly the lack of food due to poverty caused by: high commodity prices, destruction of local food production (monocropping), lack of plans and support from the government to cure the problem of food and malnutrition, and change in the choice of food.
Sikwal-GMO has traced the problem to either absence, or lack of own farmland while letting vast lands to foreign corporations and large local businessmen, lack of subsidies and proper support services from the government for the development of agriculture, and the widespread conversion of agricultural lands are the primary causes of farmers’ poverty.
Golden Rice, a government deception
The promise of Golden Rice or Vitamin A-Rice, which is said to be the answer to the problem of malnutrition, has no scientific basis and does not consider other aspects of Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) and hunger.
Due to poverty, the problem is not only VAD, but also the lack of different types of nutrition.
Golden Rice is not a solution to a complex problem, but on the contrary can worsen the hunger situation of the people.
Golden Rice is another type of high-input variety that is shaped by the use of high amounts of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides which farmers have long opposed. Transnational Corporations (TNCs) such as Syngenta and Monsanto, philanthro-capitalists such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, IRRI, Philrice, Golden Rice Humanitarian Board (GRHB), and the DA itself are pushing it for foreigners, to acquire huge capital while hiding under the guise that the creation of Golden Rice is said to be for “humanitarian purposes”.
Golden Rice, money maker product of transnational corporations, USD 30 Billion yearly industry
These TNCs are in control of the patent of seeds and breeds and earn about P30 Billion dollars a year while the livelihood of farmers continues to collapse—the main producer of our food, mainly rice.
Philippine agriculture must be free from foreign manipulation
Sikwal-GMO calls for the dissemination of many alternative methods that will provide a solution to the rice production crisis; fight for a Genuine Agrarian Reform Program, and carry out sustainable farming that is diversified and the collectivization of production.
The group said farmers’ ownership of agricultural lands and farmlands, and the availability of adequate and proper agricultural development support services will ensure sufficient, safe and affordable food for all.