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Victory Against GM Golden Rice And Bt Eggplant In The Philippines Court, A Crucial Win In The Global Fight Against GMOs

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A decade ago, more than 400 farmers, women, youth and consumers strongly voiced the people’s overwhelming rejection of the genetically modified Golden Rice by uprooting the field trials in Pili, Camarines Sur, Philippines. This rejection included the premise that vitamins can be artificially ingested through gene editing. Nature has given enough diversity for people to get all the necessary ingredients in various forms, through food diversity. The historic action has now resulted in a major victory as the Philippine Supreme Court on 19 April 2024 issued a cease-and-desist order on the commercial propagation of genetically modified Golden Rice and Bt eggplant in the country.

It re-emphasises the need for precautionary principle, ignored by regulators specifically by The Philippines and New Zealand in this particular case of Golden Rice. Genetic contamination, because of GM products, can have irreversible consequences on plant genetic resources and thus on human beings.

The rejection against Golden Rice has become a symbol of resistance against GMOs and corporate control in agriculture, not just in the Philippines and in other Asian countries but across the world. Thus, the court decision also symbolises victory for farmers and consumers everywhere as the decision goes beyond Golden Rice and Bt eggplant and covers “any application for contained use, field testing, direct use as food or feed or processing, commercial propagation, and importation of GMOs.”

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The court recognized that government agencies and other proponents of Golden Rice and Bt eggplant “failed to submit proof of safety and compliance with all legal requirements.” According to the court decision, this order remains indefinite until GMOs proponents could fulfill all the mandated steps and be able to give concrete evidence that these GMOs are indeed safe. Farmers, consumers and civil society organizations across Asia under the banner of Stop Golden Rice Network celebrate this momentous victory.

We do recognize there is a need to address hunger and malnutrition in Asia and around the world, particularly in the face of global food, economic, climate crises and war. But we strongly believe that the solution is not in Golden Rice, nor other genetically modified food crops, but through supporting the traditional and small farmers who remain the main producers and protectors of diverse sources of food. We believe that GM crops are primarily pushed by global monopoly capitalists in food and agriculture. Throughout Asia and the rest of the world, there is already irrevocable evidence of the failure of GM crops and how it has contributed to further indebtedness, crop failures, hunger, and loss of biodiversity.

The resilience of farmers, consumers in the Philippines against Golden Rice, Bt eggplant and other GMO crops in their countries which have been vindicated by the Supreme Court have become a testament that people’s persistence prevails in the face of corporate capture of our agriculture and food system. Securing small farmers’ control over resources such as seed, appropriate technologies, water and land is the real key to improving food production and eradicating hunger and malnutrition.

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