A Greenpeace activist bags genetically engineered Bt talong (eggplant) from a trial site in Laguna province last year (Courtesy of Greenpeace)
Environmental activists today asked the Supreme Court to stop field trials of experimental vegetables, which they fear will open the floodgates for dangerous genetically modified organisms (GMOs). “The government’s pro-GMO approach is unfortunately resulting in a massive and uncontrolled unleashing of GMOs into our diets and our environment. This, despite the absence of conclusive scientific proof that these monster crops are safe to public health and the environment,” said Von Hernandez, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. Hernandez is one of the signatories to a petition asking the court in particular to immediately stop the experiments on eggplants called Bt talong, given the alleged scientific uncertainties about the safety of GMOs. “We believe the Department of Agriculture’s unaccountable GMO approval and regulatory system violates the Filipino’s right to ‘a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature’ guaranteed by our constitution,” Hernandez said. Bt talong and other GMO crops are dangerous to human health and the environment, he said. He further claimed that scientific tests on laboratory animals fed GMO food such as Bt talong, have shown that GMOs negatively affect their liver, kidneys and blood. “No long-term studies have been conducted to prove these GMOs are safe for human consumption. Also, GMOs, which are man-made living organisms, can crossbreed and reproduce, causing gene transfer to natural and wild plant varieties.” Other signatories to the petition include current and former legislators, scientists, university professors and celebrities. Named respondents in the petition include the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Bureau of Plant Industry and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, UP Los Baños Foundation Inc, UP Mindanao Foundation Inc, and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications-Southeast Asia Center.