ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

7 February 2003


1.CBCP asks Arroyo to defer widespread use of BT-corn
2.Indian Government concerned at GM impact on biodiversity


1.CBCP asks Arroyo to defer widespread use of BT-corn

Cites danger posed to humans by genetically altered species
Manila Bulletin
CEBU CITY (PNA) The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is asking President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to order the deferment of the widespread use of a hybrid corn which, health and environment advocates claim, is dangerous to human beings.

Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal said that the Bacillus Turengensis variety of corn (BT-corn), a genetically modified organism (GMO), was one of only two items discussed in the one-day 86th plenary assembly of the CBCP in Manila.

The other issue was about the draft of a protocol that would guide the Church on how to handle cases of sexual misconduct by priests.

"We are asking the resident to postpone the grant of permission for use of the hybrid seeds until a comprehensive study on BT-corn be conducted because it deals with something we consume," Cardinal Vidal said.

BT-corn is supposedly advantageous to farmers because it is resistant to corn borer, a common pest that ravages corn farms.

Dr. Pamela Fernandez, a plant pathologist of the University of the Philippine s in Los Baños (UP-Los Baños), maintained that introduction of a genetically altered species into the natural food cycle of living beings always holds the danger of affecting the entire bio-chain.

"There is what we call mutation," she said.

The Department of Agriculture has aired its support for the use of the hybrid seed.

Notwithstanding the stand of the government on the issue, Vidal said the bishops want their stand known.

"We have to be careful about what we consume because once it is there, how can we remedy the situation, with its consequences?" he said.

Scientists are creating new life forms by taking genes from one species and integrating them into unrelated species to produce a desired trait.

Examples are potato with a chicken gene for increased resistance to disease, tomato with a human gene for increased resistance to heavy metals or fish with a strawberry gene for increased shelf life.

Earlier, report said that in Third World countries like the Philippines, which are confronted by the problem of feeding growing populations, proponents of GMO are advocating genetically engineered crops as a solution to the supply shortage.

Anti-GMO groups cited the result of a 1998 experiment conducted by German scientists. The experiment showed that contrary to claims by GMO proponents, the foreign viruses taken in by humans in genetically altered crops are not completely broken down in the process of digestion.

BT-corn was tested about three years ago in Bay, Laguna and General Santos.

To counter the impending entry of GMOs to General Santos City, the city council passed a resolution declaring the city as GMO-free.


2.GM Crop Yet To Take Root In Government Psyche

Financial Express, India
Bhagyashree Pande

New Delhi, February 6: The government and the private companies are clearly divided over the introduction of genetically modified crop (GM). While the industry is in favour of GM seeds, the government feels that it should not be introduced at the cost of bio-diversity.

"The major hurdle besides ethics is the lack of clarity on the part of the government over how much and what it will allow for genetic modification," says Dr Paresh Verma, director, research, Pro Agro Seed Company.

"The government should realise that GM seeds are meant to increase the farm production, which is not happening in many crops," says Dr Verma.

However, Dr KK Tripathi, adviser and scientist, department of biotechnology, said, "Unfortunately, not much work is being done on indigineous genes, so there is always a fear that bringing in the GM seed may eventually lead to marginalising seeds that are unique to our country."

The companies, however, are not yet convinced to make substantial investment in the agri-biotech sector in the country due to the uncertainty in the government's attitude on the issue.

"There is no proper financing and extension services available to companies involved in research in the agri-biotech sector", says a biotechnology adviser in a leading consultancy firm.

Agri-biotechnology is expected to contribute at least 15 per cent of the total indigenous biotech market in the next five years. Consumption of biotech products in India is estimated to increase tenfold to $1.5 billion by 2007.

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