By RENMIN CRISANTA A. VIZCONDE*
From April 2 to 5, Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes, Inc. (PNFSP) together with its partner NGO’s and CSO’s working collectively to stop the possible commercialization of golden rice (GR), gathered to share lessons and experiences. Participants from India, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, New Zealand, Australia and Philippines assembled on said event with clear aim, to raise present concerns, issues and challenges that confront their respective country regarding Golden Rice project. Guided with noble ideals and cause, they gained victory after the successful deliberation, workshop, dialogue to inter-agency government body and mass-action in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform and Agriculture against corporate control on agriculture and sovereignty. The group asserted the consumers and farmers right to land, safe, diverse and sustainable food systems.
We want to share some highlights and important thoughts and observations from many renowned scientist and biologist who attended said event. We know that their intensive and dedicated research in their respective field of discipline may help us understand the other side of project Golden Rice. And to be more critical and holistic, we need to analyze their logic and position.
Since rice is the most staple food for everyone, we know to some degree that bio-fortification in the past didn’t bring qualitative change and development among the public consumers. Worst is that our lack of knowledge on bio-technology, mutation, modification, re-construction, post-modernism in general deliver us on the contrary of progress and giant leap. History teaches us that any science that is not intended for the benefit of mankind brought disastrous and catastrophic effects for (on the) human body, society, ecology and to the whole diversity of living and non-living organisms.
For Kartini Samon of GRAIN- Indonesia, (Genetically Modified Organism) “GMO product is not intended for trade. It is developed as a feed and not food. Meaning feeds for animals like pigs and chickens. And it is alarming that the Chinese government is the one doing some ‘big’ measures to control bio fortification process in the Asia Pacific Region like the merging of Chem-China, Syngenta, Monsanto, etc. It seems that they want to control the whole modification process aside from United States of America wherein all foodstuffs are GMO’s.”
“It is really alarming after all because aside from the merging of giant TNC’s, there is uncertainty among researches made by scientist around the world like in Europe and US. They can’t explain why Golden Rice is golden in color, making the project questionable and full of un-certainty. If it is rich in Vitamin A, its color must be red, yellow, green or orange like apple, oranges, carrot , malunggay, alugbati, saluyot and native rice. It is un-ethical on the other hand. Why? It is a form of attack against our sovereignty and right to food. All GMO’s is anti-HALAL and it’s a violation to our values, culture, heritage and the genealogy as a whole built and developed by our ancestors. It will contaminate the entire food web and machinery of human race. It is like a weapon to kill many consumers. It can even cause abnormal development of the embryo and study shows in India that large intake of GR, like corn, potato, etc. can cause severe lung inflammation. And the only certain now is that GR will bring disastrous and catastrophic effect to mankind; a kind or version of modern plague! And the lessening number of bees and insects in America is concrete evidence that it has a domino effect. For bees and insects are the main actors in cross pollination process,” Dr. Debal Debb and Narashima Reddy of India said.
In the global context, Golden Rice project is designed by IRRI and other leading bodies and institutions built by advanced countries to gain bigger profit and more monopoly in consumption and production in the guise of Green Revolution that started in 1966. Some say’s “it’s a continuing policy of neo- colonialism in forms of humanitarian aid.” Kien Dang of Vietnam’s CENDI argued “we want to promote culture based agriculture. But sad to say that after the victory of Vietnam War, US is getting back within the mask of modified development. Vietnamese government signed a treaty allowing US backed by Monsanto to enter our domestic and ancestral domain. What is alarming now is that our government is not allowing public protest regarding Monsanto and it promotes bio fortification process and system. For nature already provided everything, vitamins, nutrients, minerals, etc. Our ancestors were able to manage their community by saving seeds and its part of our rich natural heritage. This seed banking is an art that must be enhanced. So, protecting rice is like protecting the future of our next generations.”
The Labour Resource Centre of Bangladesh through a research paper further elaborated that “the issue on land because it is universal right and it is connected to our life. Green Revolution is a monster killing our own people. Farmers became landless due to big inputs needed to sustain modified crops. The contaminated land and ecosystem of Bangladesh must be an example for India and Philippines on resisting genetically modified seeds. Golden rice will kill the traditional way of cropping especially the naturally fortified Vitamin A. This GR is a syndicated project of Monsanto, US-Aid, Rockefeller Foundation and other trade giants. It is a threat to our national and international food security. It capitulated to students, NGO’s, teachers and professionals to promote GMO by means of providing scholarship aid and visiting US territory. We call for everyone to stop golden rice.”
The challenge is now very big. It needs more time, space and even sacrifices in saving the last seed that built and unites the whole humanity. We need to quote and reiterate this noble logic from Mr. Nookaraju Sundru of India: “seed of change must grow in our heart and soul. Modifying the natural state and order of our ecosystem is a grave sin to the Creator and to the entire race of Man. We must value indigenous and native source of Vitamin A. We must value this little seed of rice cause by its power, our civilization survived after many years of ravishing wars in the past. This is a long battle that everyone must engage!”
Lastly, we need collective effort to be able to help one another by sharing knowledge and experience. And through this, we can build and expand strong organizations of farmers and indigenous peoples with alliance from nationalist and progressive scientists. For all we know that the genuine basis for social emancipation of man is his liberation from land oppression.
Long live international solidarity! No to Golden Rice and GM crops! Distribute land to the tiller!
We need GARB, not GM Rice!#
Vizconde is the executive director of the Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes, Inc (PNFSP) nordis.net