An independent probe should be launched to determine the safety of consuming food from genetically modified (GM) organisms, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines said in a statement Tuesday.
"We want an independent body because if you have interests like the Department of Science and Technology that is promoting the GMOs, of course they will tell the people there's no problem," said Edu Gariguez, executive secretary CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action.
This, as he noted that there is no evidence showing that consumption of "golden rice" set for government release this year, as well as BT Talong (eggplant) and BT Corn.
Genetic modification involves the introduction of foreign genes to alter specific characterics of organisms.
The process is increasingly being used in most countries including the Philippines to develop crops with higher yield or greater resistance to pests and climate change.
"We are not against the development.... I am very familiar with the farmers and indigenous people and we want the sustainable and agriculture development," Gariguez said.
The priest also expressed fear that the widespread use of GM seeds will give multinationals control over the country's food supply due to patent issues.
The CBCP statement also quoted a non-profit group called Consumer Rights for Safe Food as raising health concerns over GM food.
"GMOs have been reported to have caused in both humans and animals antibiotic resistance, allergies, breathing difficulty, muscle weakness, lupus or multiple sclerosis-like symptoms, malnutrition, internal organ damage, diabetes, various forms of cancer, and infertility after 3 generations," the CBCP quoted the group as saying.
The group also warned of environmental risks, noting that GMOs require large doses of pesticides and herbicides which may contaminate the soil and harm other organisms.
"Genetic and chemical pollution can also develop superweeds, superpests and new plant viruses," the CBCP quoted the group as saying.
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