By Rey Anthony Chiu | 02:48 PM May 21, 2022
Citing three instituted measures to protect and conserve Bohol’s environment and its people, pro sustainable agriculture and pro-environment advocates here, team up to demand from the Department of Agriculture (DA) an immediate stop and recall of the distribution of corn seeds that are essentially genetically modified organism (GMO) and pose threat to Boholanos health and the island’s fragile environment.
Bohol’s vision to become a prime eco-cultural tourism destination with a string agro industry is in peril, the country’s first Environment Ordinance laid to waste, and the sustainable development framework which we crafted years decades ago peaking with the crucial “Safeguard against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) Ordinance,” is now facing its test of fire, alarmed pro-environment advocates wail, during a special meeting called by Governor Erico Aristotle Aumentado and facilitated by the Office of the Provincial Agriculture, through its consultant Nunila Pinat, May 18.
The meeting stemmed from the information shared by a Department of Agriculture official admitting that Boholano farmers have been planting RoundUp Ready Corn (RR corn), a known GMO as it is a genetically engineered corn.
Genetic enginnering is a process of transferring genes from one organism to another, sometimes from one completely different species to another, producing a new transgenic product or organism. The new product is called a GMO.
Bohol Provincial Agricultural Promotions Center Officer and corn focal person Roman Dabalos admitted during a full council meeting of the Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council and the Task Force El Niño May 12, said that for almost 4 years now, Bohol farmers have been into planting GMO corn, after having it in techno demo farms through the years.
He added that Alturas has been buying the GMO corn for their feed processing. This comes out commercially as Marcela Feeds.
RR corn came a long way from Monsanto and now under Bayer, has been engineered to be tolerant to the chemical glyphosate, so that the crop will not die when the farmer applies the chemicals that would kill the weeds and control it.
Bohol living scientist, sustainable agriculture expert and retired professor farmer Jose Travero raised his concern against RR corn and its chemical glyphosate.
Prof Travero cited that while there should be more studies on the effects of the chemical glyphosate in animals and humans, a committee of scientists working for the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization (WHO) went further than the regulated bodies studying the chemical’s effects to humans and reported that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic or cancer causing.
What is even more concerning is that exposure to glyphosate or its commercial formulations [like RR corn} induces neurotoxic effects, exposure to the pesticide during childhood can lead to abnormal cell development, leading to alterations in differentiation, neuronal growth, and myelination.
Himself attuned to monitoring and evaluation, Travero said he found that RR corn seeds are enticing farmers due to better harvests compared to native corn, but in the long run, RR corn would need more inorganic fertilizer and the RR pesticides and herbicides for the crop to produce the desired harvest.
With fertilizer costs tripling in the last years, Travero wonders how much is the farmers’ profit margin, compared to the traditional native corn harvests.
Did you inform the Provincial Government that you are bringing in GMO to Bohol? You should have informed the OPA, so you can be appraised and informed that we have a valid ordinance, Gov. Aumentado told Dabalos, who, reports said, was just implementing a national government program in Bohol.
At the PDRRM Meeting, Pinat wanted Dabalos to ascertain if indeed, all the harvests were sold to be processed as feeds, and that none were consumed as food.
Beyond that, section 3 of Provincial Ordinance No 2003-10 says no person shall conduct a laboratory or field testing or any activity for the propagation of or experimentation related to GMOs of any plant, animal or microorganism in Bohol, without showing proof that he has subjected the GMO product to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and has successfully complied with the EIA procedures consistent with existing national and local laws and regulations.
As to the ordinance, unless this has been lifted on the moral and scientific certainty and satisfaction through a widespread multi-sectoral public hearing and education campaign in all proving towns that the product is safe and environmentally sound, then GMOs may be brought in.
Moreover, any violation of the ordinance is meter a penalty of P5,000 or a month of imprisonment or both and that juridical entities found and proven to be involved in the violation can be subject to closure.
With the risk posed by the seeds now getting into the farmers, advocates working hysterically to arrest the potential of the GMO to Bohol environment, call the DA to immediately stop and recall the distribution of RR corn. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)