Panay Farmers Oppose Golden Rice [Philippines]

Thu, 03/08/2012 - 14:39 -- apc secretariat

Farmers and church people from the municipalities of Pototan and Zarraga oppose the introduction of Genetically Modified Rice into their respective municipalities. Golden Rice, as it is commonly known, is genetically-engineered rice able to produce beta-carotene, a Vitamin A precursor.

A forum on Golden Rice was held in Saint Joseph Parish in Pototan, Iloilo last February 7, 2012. Organized by the Forum on Community Alternative (FCA), it aims to educate and raise the awareness of Panay farmers regarding the effects of GMOs in the country.

Patented by the transnational corporation Syngenta, Golden Rice can produce 36.7 µg/g of beta-carotene. “However, a person needs to eat approximately 10 kilos of golden rice a day to be able to meet the daily recommended allowance,” said Alfie Pulumbarit, Advocacy Officer of MASIPAG (Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development). “Stocking the rice, which is a common practice in the country, lessens the capacity of the Golden Rice to meet this requirement,” he added.

Mr. Pulumbarit suggested that there are better sources of Vitamin A - carrots contain 46-125 µg/g of beta-carotene, green leafy vegetables ranges from 10-144 µg/g while two pieces of sweet potato tuber of 200 µg/g beta-carotene will already meet the daily recommended allowance.

The introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our country proved to be detrimental to our farmers. 

“Farmers are prone to contaminants coming from insecticides and herbicides and the environment is destroyed by chemical inputs applied to GMO plants,” said Georie Pitong, MASIPAG Visayas Regional Coordinator.

PAMANGGAS (United Peasants in Panay and Guimaras, is the regional chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Panay) Secretary General Chris Chavez stressed that Vitamin-A deficiency amongst Filipinos is not the farmer’s sole problem. “Most of us are also deficient from zinc, folate, B1 and B12, and calcium.” The problem hence is multiple micronutrient deficiency.

Chavez also added that the main cause of farmers’ malnourishment is food insecurity. “Food insecurity brought about by lack of enough land, by decreasing rice production and decreasing incomes. Only through a genuine land reform which ensures farmers’ access to sufficient rice and other food sources will farmers start to become healthy again,” he further elaborated. #