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GMOs in the Philippines

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GMOs in the Philippines describes market for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Philippines, including policies that allow or ban them. As of 2011, Roundup Ready corn and Bt corn are sold by both Monsanto and DuPont's brand, Pioneer Hi-Bred, in the Philippines. There is development underway to introduce Bt Eggplant and Papaya Ringspot Virus Resistant (PRSVR) Papaya.[1]

Regulatory Bodies

National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines

The National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) was established in 1990. Its first task was formulating Philippine Biosafety Guidelines, which govern "the regulation of the importation or introduction, movement and field release of potentially hazardous biological materials in the Philippines."[2] NCBP is under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).[3] At the time of its creation, the Undersecretary for Research and Development of DOST served as the Chairperson of NCBP.

The NCBP consists of the following members:[3]

  • "The Secretaries of the Departments of Science and Technology, Agriculture, Health, Environment, and Natural Resources, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry, and Interior and Local Governments or their designated representatives. The DOST Secretary shall be the permanent Chairperson of the Committee.
  • "A consumer representative appointed by the President from a list submitted by nationally recognized consumer organizations, serving for a term of three (3) years, renewable for another term.
  • "A community representative from the farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous sector appointed by the President from a list submitted by nationally recognized sectoral organizations, serving for a term of three (3) years, renewable for another term.
  • "An industry representative appointed by the President from a list submitted by the Secretary of Trade and Industry, serving for a term of three (3) years, renewable for another term.
  • "A biological scientist, physical scientist, environmental scientist, health scientist and social scientist to be appointed by the President, each serving for a term of three (3) years, renewable for another term.
  • "The Biosafety Committees (BCs) of the Departments of Science and Technology, Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources and Health.
  • "The Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBCs) of the respective institutions which are undertaking research/experiments involving genetically modified organisms (GMOs). All institutions planning to conduct activities on GMOs are required to establish their own IBC consisting of at least five (5) members duly approved by the NCBP. Three of these shall be designated as “scientist members” while the others shall be considered as community representatives."

Biosafety Laws

1990: Executive Order 430

Filipino laws on biotechnology began with the issuance of Executive Order 430 in 1990 by President Corazon C. Aquino. This created the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP).[2]

1991: NCBP Writes Biosafety Guidelines

One year after its creation, in 1991, the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) "In 1991, NCBP formulated the Philippine Biosafety Guidelines, which governs the regulation of the importation or introduction, movement and field release of potentially hazardous biological materials in the Philippines. The guidelines also describe the required physical and biological containment and safety procedures in handling biological materials."[2]

1998: NBCP Writes Guidelines on Planned Release of GMOs

In 1998, the NCBP wrote the "Guidelines on Planned Release of Genetically Manipulated Organisms (GMOs) and Potentially Harmful Exotic Species (PHES)."[3]

2001: Presidential Policy Statement

"In 2001, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued the policy statement on modern biotechnology, reiterating the government policy of promoting the safe and responsible use of modern biotechnology and its products as one of several means to achieve and sustain food security, equitable access to health services, sustainable and safe environment and industry development."[2]

2002: Administrative Order No. 8

"The Department of Agriculture formulated the Administrative Order No. 8 (AO 8) that provides guidelines for the importation and release into the environment of plants and plant products derived from the use of modern biotechnology."[2]

March 2006: Executive Order 514

"President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Executive Order 514 (EO 514) establishing the National Biosafety Framework (NBF) in order to strengthen NCBP. Under NBF the membership of NCBP is expanded and with specific policy-making powers to address the biosafety requirements of the Cartagena Protocol.
"According to EO 514, “the NBF shall apply to the development, adoption and implementation of all biosafety policies, measures and guidelines and in making decisions concerning the research, development, handling and use, transboundary movement, release into the environment and management of regulated articles”."[2][3]

A leaked U.S. State Department memo sent from the U.S. Embassy in Manila a month after EO 514 was issued derided EO 514 for promulgating "conflicting principles in recognizing the need for science-based risk assessments while allowing social, cultural, and ethical considerations to guide biosafety decisions."[4] The memo adds: "Adding non-science based requirements could make the existing regulatory system more restrictive, complicated, and detrimental to [Government of the Philippines] Department of Agriculture and donor efforts to use biotechnology to promote agricultural productivity and food security."[4]

The U.S. Ambassador saw EO 514 as a compromise between pro-biotech forces in the Filipino Department of Agriculture, industry, and the U.S. Embassy, and anti-biotech forces (the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and "anti-biotech NGOs"). The U.S. Embassador complained that:[4]

"On the other hand, the EO adopted several other principles that directly conflict with science- based standards. For example, the EO drew from Article 28 of the CBP [Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety] in permitting social, economic, ethical, and cultural assessments prior to commercialization. The EO also gave flexibility for [Government of the Philippines] agencies to jointly issue environmental impact assessment guidelines as a requirement for biosafety decision-making. These additional requirements may be inconsistent with WTO principles and would likely lengthen the approval process and make the regulatory system tedious and prone to corruption. It could also make it more expensive for the private sector and public institutions -- which rely on meager national government budgets -- to commercialize their biotech innovations."

The memo continues, noting that:

"Monsanto, an American company, is concerned that as a result of the EO, biotech commercialization rules may become more restrictive and arbitrary. The company anticipates difficulty renewing its permit to commercially propagate Bt corn (MON810, the first biotech food crop approved for commercial release in Asia), which will expire in 2007. They are particularly worried about the [Department of Environment and Natural Resources'] environmental impact assessment system, which they perceive as prone to corruption. Biotech Coalition of the Philippines President Ben Pecson was surprised that the President signed the EO after it had languished in her office for nearly two years. He said the EO is inconsistent with the national policy to promote the use of biotechnology to address economic development goals."

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Visit to the Philippines, May 29-June 8, 2011, by Jill Richardson.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Biosafety, SEARCA, Accessed October 14, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines FAQ, Accessed October 14, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 U.S. Embassy Manila, "Grp Adopts Conflicted Biosafety Framework," U.S. State Department Cable, via Wikileaks, April 28, 2006, Accessed October 14, 2011.

External resources

Leaked U.S. State Department Memos

External articles