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Catholic forum says no to GM eggplants

UCAN Farmers, priests, nuns and concerned citizens gather in Makati City to celebrate Earth Day 2010
  • April 23 2010
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MAKATI CITY, Philippines (UCAN) -- A Catholic forum on World Earth Day rejected the commercial sale of genetically modified eggplants even though no safety issues related to the product have been recorded.

Scientists must protect food supply, participants said. They should not play God by engineering new plant varieties using inadequate scientific methods that cannot allay fears, Gigi Chua, who helped to draft a forum statement on the issue, told UCA News.

The draft statement appeals to the 600 participants of the April 22 forum and the public to stop the distribution, production, sale and consumption of genetically modified organisms (GMO).

It also advises members of the archdiocese not to vote for candidates in the May 10 elections who support GMO, saying it is anti-life and anti-environment.

The forum on GMO and climate change was part of a day-long Conference on Ecological Conversion organized by Manila archdioceses Ministry on Ecology.

Organizers chose to discuss the topic of genetically modified (GM) eggplants to highlight how the Philippine government is forced to accept multinational programs, Benedictine Sister Aida Velazquez told UCA News.

Look at the market anywhere do you see a shortage of [eggplants]? asked the environmental activist nun.

Eggplants reportedly account for 28 percent of the Philippines total vegetable production.

Sister Velasquez said 10 US-based multinational GMO seed producers will benefit most from the large-scale use of the seeds that supposedly have increased resistance to bacteria.

Reymond Ebora, chairman of the Department of Science and Technology Biosafety Committee, however, told the forum the government would not commercially produce GM eggplants until it passes a series of tests.

The governments job is to test the organism for its safety to plants, animals and humans, not to tell farmers what to plant or what seed to use, he stressed.

PR09520/1598 April 23, 2010 35 EM-lines (292 words)

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