Tell it to SunStar: Groups urge Marcos Jr. to stop the Golden Rice project

·2 min read

The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and rice watch group Bantay Bigas have urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to revoke the permit for the commercial propagation of Golden Rice. The groups said that as president and agriculture secretary, Marcos Jr. should address the root causes of malnutrition in the country and push for policy reforms to resolve poverty and hunger. Farmer families are deprived of adequate nourishment because they remain landless and suffer slave-like farm work wages.

The groups issued the statement in commemoration of the ninth year of the historic Golden Rice uprooting from an experimental farm operated by the International Rice Research Institute and PhilRice in Camarines Sur, Bicol. On Aug. 8, 2013, around 400 farmers and consumers uprooted Golden Rice as an expression of opposition which resulted in the postponement of Golden Rice commercialization supposedly scheduled in 2016.

“We reiterate our stand that Golden Rice is not the solution to Vitamin A deficiency. Studies reveal that it contains too little Vitamin A that one has to consume 3.75 kilos to meet the needed amount per day and that its beta-carotene content degrades over time,” Amihan secretary general and Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said.

Amihan and Bantay Bigas said that it is an impractical, unnecessary and dangerous experiment that would put Filipino farmers and consumers especially pregnant and lactating mothers and children at risk.

“Nasa gitna tayo ng krisis, nagtataasan ang presyo ng pangunahing bilihin at laganap ang kawalan ng trabaho. Mataas ang inflation at unemployment rate. Dapat ituon ng gobyerno sa pagpapaunlad ng agrikultura at suporta sa mga magsasaka para sa pagpapataas ng lokal na produksyon at matugunan ang krisis sa pagkain at makalikha ng trabaho. Sayang ang nagugugol na panahon at rekurso na magbibigay lamang ng ganansiya sa malalaking agrokorporasyon,” Estavillo said.

(We are in the middle of a crisis, the price of basic goods is increasing and unemployment is widespread. Inflation and unemployment rates are high. The government should focus on agricultural development and support farmers to increase local production and address the food crisis and create jobs. It’s a waste of time and resources that will only provide profit to large agrocorporations.)

“We urge the Filipino people to join the call to reject Golden Rice, defend and advance the farmers’ rights to seed and land, and the consumers’ rights to safe food. Reviving the chemical-dependent and modern technology will never resolve the structural problems the country is facing. Lessons should be learned from our bitter experience on Marcos Sr.’s Green Revolution and Masagana 99,” Estavillo added.

The Department of Agriculture has previously identified seven provinces as areas for Golden Rice experimentation. These are Quirino, Catanduanes, Antique, Samar, Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte and Agusan del Sur. There are also ongoing partnerships with local government units of Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija and Isabela.