Gov. seeks review of GMO ban

Published by rudy Date posted on July 4, 2009

Contoversial ordinance was crafted to turn Negros into ‘organic bowl’

BACOLOD CITY: After months of debate and growing opposition to the anti-GMO (genetically modified organisms) ordinance recently implemented in the Province of Negros Occidental, Gov. Isidro Zayco finally asked the provincial board council to subject the said law under a “thorough review.”

The ordinance that was passed in 2007 but was only recently implemented with the arrest and order to turn around for an estimated P1- million shipment of genetically modified corn, generated reaction from the livestock industry who were taken by surprise with the sudden implementation of the law, “we were never made aware that such a law even existed.”

The law was crafted in the province’s thrust to make Negros Island into an “organic bowl,” and disallows entry of both living and non-living GMO products.

Albert Lim, president of the Negros Hog Raisers Association, said they are appealing to the provincial government to issue a “moratorium” for at least two years to enable industry stakeholders to prepare for the eventual phase out of GMO corn.

At the rate this is going, “the implementation of the law will lead to the collapse of the livestock and poultry industry,” said Lim who added that they are currently more than 80 percent dependent on GMO feeds for their animals.

In a turnaround, Zayco said there is a need for a thorough review of the ordinance after the sugar industry joined in the call for a moratorium or amendment to the ordinance. This, after the Philippine Sugar Research Institute sent a letter that they are using both living and non-living genetically modified organisms in their research to improve sugarcane variety and productivity.

Earlier, some sectors opposed to the ordinance also dared the provincial government “not to be selective” and fully implement the law which should include banning “more than half of the contents of a grocery store,” and not just GMO corn.

Speculations of bribe money as well as pay-off allegedly involving provincial employees have been circulating which irked the governor who dared those spreading it to show proof.

Meanwhile, Zayco also admitted that the council should also look closely into the capability of the province to implement the law after a proposal sent to a New Zealand firm revealed that setting up a GMO detecting laboratory would cost more than P210 million, not to mention hiring of additional personnel who will enforce the law.

Lim on the other hand said they are not against the ordinance and would even support the province in its thrust to increase organic produce in Negros “but it should not also prohibit the entry of GMO corn which is what we used as feeds.”

Rodney Taala, president of the Association of Backyard Hog Raisers said they are now feeling the pinch with feeds coming from neighboring Iloilo province costing P2 higher than before. “It’s a difference of not less P1.8 million per day considering we are consuming more than 900 tons daily.” –MA. ESTER L. ESPINA Correspondent, Manila Times

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