ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

15 March 2003


*University of the Philippines doctors, professors and private practitioners express their strong opposition to GM corn  *Department of Agriculture asked to revoke Bt corn license


UP doctors, academe oppose Bt corn

Manila Bulletin, Philippines, Mar 11, 2003

University of the Philippines doctors, professors and private practitioners expressed their strong opposition to the commercialization  of Monsanto's genetically modified corn (Bt corn), saying the government  has practically reneged on its mandate to protect the peoples right to  health and a healthy environment.

Their move was supported by the Ecological Society and International  Union for the Conversation of Nature and Natural Resources, Service  Lingkod Tao-Kalikasan, Miriam Peace and several other environmental  organizations.

There are real dangers arising from the commercialization of Bt corn and  this is a very serious problem and may disrupt and effect the earth's  environment. Human health and environment will be affected to the extent  that we cannot repair nor abate its ill effects and consequences, the UP  academicians noted.

The real dangers arising from the commercialization of Bt corn includes:

- Spread antibiotic resistance genes which would render lifesaving  antibiotics ineffective, thereby endangering the lives countless patients  with various infectious diseases;

- Result in the horizontal gene transfer involving viral vectors used to  transfer the bacterial VBt gene into corn plant;

- Bt corn carries the potent form of the Bt toxin which has been shown to  be non-selective. While the intended purpose of this toxin has been shown  to affect other non-target species which may cause adverse effects on  blood, immune systems in mammalian species.

- The toxin in Monsanto's Bt corn exhibits similar allergenic character  as the Bt toxin in the Starlink corn which has been proven to be highly  allergenic and has been banned for human consumption in the Us. There is  evidence that Monsanto's Bt toxin can elicit antibody responses  consistent allergenic reactions to farm workers.

- Data gathered form the safety testing done by Monsanto, which were used  as basis for the approval of the Bt corn were mainly from Bt microbial  proteins which differ significantly from the Bt crop produced toxin to  which people are actually exposed to.

- Many of the studies submitted by the company were conducted on the Bt  toxin from different crop lines, representing distinct transformation  events, than the one registered. This data bridging using alternate corn  lines as the source of Bt proteins for testing purpose is scientifically  dubious.

- Required data such as amino acid sequence homology/processing and/or  heat stability, that should have been collected and carefully evaluated  before Bt crops were originally registered in the US are still missing or  deficient despite the lapse of many years.

- The forced inversion of foreign gene randomly into gene of another  species through the genetic engineering technology is by itself  inherently dangerous.

Appropriate safety assessment tools should be developed and through  evaluation of potential risks should be undertaken before  commercialization is allowed, they avered.  The organic farming sector has also expressed their concern that their  organic produce will be threatened with contamination and other effects  on the spread of GM crops. Some sectors also warned that contrary to  claims of economic benefits, the Philippines will stand to lose  economically because of increasing worldwide rejection and failure of GM  crops. This leads us to believe that the government has approved the  commercialization of the Bt corn not on the basis of sound science nor in  consideration of the Filipino people's interest but as a result of  corporate influence.


DA asked to revoke Bt corn license

Manila Bulletin, Philippines, Feb 15, 2003

A farmers' association has asked the Department of Agriculture to revoke  the commercialization license of genetically modified (GM) bacillus  thuringiensis (Bt) corn, claiming the crop will contaminate non-Bt corn  fields and entangle non-Bt corn farmers in legal suits.

"Corn is wind-pollinated. If Bt corn is commercialized, cross-pollination  through wind action is inevitable, and contamination of our fields will  be irreversible. Bt corn, is registered as a pesticide in the US  Environmental Protection agency, worse than chemical pesticides," said  the Pambansang Kilusan ng Samahang Magsasaka (PKSM).

PKSM said Bt corn may also implicate non-Bt farmers in a similar case in  the US for violating patent rights of Bt corn seed producer Monsanto. "Monsanto can sue us for patent infringement as it has done to farmers  with Monsanto's patented GM soya and canola, like Eugene Stratemeyer in  the US and Percy Schmeiser in Canada. Those farmers had to pay $20,000 to  $50,000 in fines," it said.

Bureau of Plant and Industry (BPI) Director Blo Umpar Adiong said earlier  that Bt corn's approval has gone through stringent procedures set under  Administrative Order 8, the law allowing GM commercialization. Adiong said that the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines  (NCBP) has approved Bt corn trials from the greenhouse to multiple locations.

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