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DUMAGUETE CITY, April 28 (PIA) -- Some environmental advocates here filed a petition with the Supreme Court (SC) recently for issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan to immediately stop the genetically modified organism (GMO) field testing in the country.

Silliman University President Dr. Ben Malayang III is among those calling on the SC to stop the GMO testing, as four provinces in the Philippines are to carry out field trials on Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) talong (eggplants), a GMO variety.

These eggplants, which are pest-resistant, are alleged to be harmful to humans.

"Any attempt to develop this technology, or apply it for use in the Philippines, shall need to undergo exhaustive environmental safety assessment,” Dr. Malayang, a renowned environmentalist and former Undersecretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said,

A Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy for environmental issues, based on Article II, Section 16 of the Declaration of Principles and State Policies of the 1987 Constitution, which states “The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”

Malayang said the Philippines is “highly genetically rich and fragile” and the use of GMO without the necessary assessment “could put the country into high and undue risk.”

Global environmental group Greenpeace, also one of the petitioners, earlier released on its website a report describing GMOs as highly regulated and even banned in many countries.

Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Daniel Ocampo, said that GMO crops “should not be cultivated outdoors anywhere in the world.”

“In the case of Bt talong, with its built-in insect-resistance gene, this poses risks of creating aggressive weeds that may wreak havoc to local agriculture and natural habitats,” Ocampo said.

He added that GMOs have never been proven safe, which is why they are highly regulated and even banned in many countries and regions.

The 68-page petition was also signed by Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Teodoro Casino, Dr. Charito Medina of Magsasaka at Siyentipiko sa Pagpapaunlad ng Agrikultura, lawyers Harry Roque and Maria Paz Luna, scientist Dr. Romeo Quijano of University of the Philippines Manila, Catherine Untalan of Miss Earth Foundation, Leo Avila of the City Government of Davao, and activist-musician Noel Cabangon. (rmn/JCT-PIA Negros Oriental)

By Jennifer Catan-Tilos

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