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Farmers protesting against GMOs during the press conference

Farmer explains protest against GM crops

March 08 2010

QUEZON CITY, Philippines (UCAN) -- A farmer who fasted in protest against genetically modified crops at a recent United Nations food and agriculture conference in Mexico says his action was made possible by support of priests in his home province of Bohol.

Isidro Ancog says that farmers should be given control over what they plant.

He launched his protest at the UN-sponsored Agricultural Biotechnologies conference in Guadalajara, Mexico, because farmers know very little about the effects and limitations of genetically modified (GM) crops.

Ancog told a media conference in Quezon City that his intervention in Mexico appeared to have taken conference participants by surprise.

"They were not ready for it and so they could not react," the farmer said.

He believes his intervention led the conference to include in its final report the statement that genetically modified crops "should not be imposed on farmers in developing countries."

"I saw small scale farmers and fisher people, the majority of the poor, had no voice in the gathering and I realized my voice would be too little, so I had to stage an action that all could see," Ancog said, explaining his fast.

Ancog said email sent by priests from Tagbilaran diocese in Bohol inspired him to stick to taking only water for three days.

"I got my strength for the difficult task from email from social action officials of the Church in Bohol," the farmer told UCA News.

Some priests advocate natural farming because it promotes values of stewardship and perseverance in farming, Father Robert Sanchez, adviser to a Mindoro Island farming group, says.

He told UCA News the effects of GM crops are of concern because they are still uncertain.

Father Sanchez said the Church is concerned not only about food supplies but security of farming families.

Diversified farming allowed by non-genetically modified seeds is better for food security, especially in case of crop failure, he says. He also favors shifting from chemical-dependent to organic farming.

A study by the Pontifical Academy for Sciences in 2009 reportedly endorsed GM crops as "praiseworthy for improving the lives of the poor."

PR09040.1592 March 8, 2010 36 EM-lines (348 words)

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