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Friday, April 11, 2014

TO ENTER or not to enter: that is the hottest issue of the day. Of course, I’m referring to the intense lobby to allow the entry of GMOs despite the provincial and Bacolod City official policy that says not on your life.

The National Federation of Hog Farmers, however, won’t take no for an answer. It has enlisted into the fray Roderico Bioco, general manager of Mindanao Grains Processing Co. Inc., to support the use of genetically-modified crops to feed Negrense livestock.

I find Bioco’s answer very interesting. He virtually confirmed that GM corn has contaminated cornfields. He said that their suppliers mix living GMO corn with traditionally-grown ones. You don’t have to be a genius to realize that there is a lot of GM cross-pollination of Philippine corn.


But Bioco’s assertion is not totally true. My sources said that apart from Negros, the other provincial holdout is Sultan Kudarat, which still produces natural corn.

I find it strange though that the news reports insist that it’s a battle between the hog and poultry industry versus the environmentalists. That of course is true—to a certain extent.

But the GMO ban is not a stand-alone policy. The Sanggunian Panlalawigan passed the ordinance in support of an industry. That is, the organic agriculture sector which serve as Govs. Marañon and Zayco’s plank for the province’s food security.

Incoming corn to hog and poultry industry are LIVING genetically modified organisms (LGMO) that can play reproductive roles such as cross pollination. They can contaminate organic cornfields that will negate precisely its being “organic.”

Just as water is incompatible with oil, so are GMOs with organic food production. Ne’er shall the twain meet. No middle ground.

Allowing living GMOs – and not just corn, by the way – to enter the territorial space of Negros Occidental endangers natural (not ordinary corn as local media insists) corn production and other crops such as rice.

So those who want the entry of living GMOs in Negros Occidental, let them come out swinging against the organic industry. No more cutesy remarks on allowing the living crop to enter, while developing the organic industry. Let these proponents expose not their erudition but their ignorance and insanity.

I repeat: there is no middle ground between organic and LGMOs. It’s a zero-sum game. You can only choose one and have to forget the other.
Yet there can be a compromise. As the original version of the draft ordinance emphasized, “The Province…prioritizes measures for the attainment of its status as an organic food island. As a concrete and initial step toward these ends, it…prohibit(s) the entry, introduction and importation of genetically-modified LIVING plants and animals in the territorial jurisdiction of the Province.”

As far as non-living GMOs go, the ordinance could be amended prescribing mandatory labeling. Caveat emptor. Consumers beware. Otherwise, it’s the consumer choice. Labels could have the message “pork and dressed chicken fed with processed GM-based feeds.”

It would be like buying cigarettes where the government warns that “smoking is dangerous to your health.” But it respects the right of consumers to choose either their poison or to protect their health. That would be the only win-win solution.


Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 11, 2014.


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