MANILA, July 5, 2013—Consumer groups advocating for natural and safe foods called on the government to require labeling for Genetically Modified (GM) crops and processed foods with GM ingredients.

Network Opposed to Genetically Modified Organisms (No2GMO), National Consumer Affairs Council (NCAC), Consumer Rights for Safe Food (CRSF) together with Jeffrey Smith, an international anti-GMO advocate urged the Philippine government to require the labeling of products containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).

“As of February 2013, the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) has so far approved the entry of about 70 GMO products for food, feeds and processing as well as propagation into the local market, without any information to consumers that these have GMO contents,” the groups said in a press release.

“The Philippine Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) was being overly optimistic when they claimed that the GMOs on the market meet the FAO/WHO safety assessment criteria. In fact, the Bt (Bacillus thuriengensis) corn, Roundup Ready soy, and GM papaya all fail the criteria. Furthermore, companies refuse to use the FAO/WHO safety testing guideline, choosing instead research protocols that are far less capable of finding health problems,” they added.

Last May 17, 2013, the Court of Appeals (CA) ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR) to permanently stop the field trials of Bt eggplants.

CA Associate Justice Isaias Dicdican emphasized that the trials “could not be declared by this Court as safe to human health and to our ecology with full scientific certainty being an alteration of an otherwise natural state of affairs in our ecology.”

Meanwhile, Fr. Benny Tuazon, Minister for Ecology of the Archdiocese of Manila stressed the need for extensive research with foods with GMOs and more public awareness of its existence here in the country.

“We cannot be certain of the extent of GMO presence in the country. We can say that right now, GMO is not just found in rice, Bt eggplant, potatoes, but can also be present in meat and fish because they also eat plants. So it is better to have a thorough research with our foods in order for the public to know the effects of GMO presence in foods,” Tuazon said in a Church forum last Tuesday.

He suggested that there must also be public awareness on the matter in order for people to debate and act on the issue of GMO effects on human being.

Tuazon pointed out that even the Church says that any progress is positive, but should be used responsibly.

“According to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine, in recent years pressing issues were raised in using biotechnology in the areas of agriculture, animal farming, medicine and environmental protection. The new possibilities offered by current biological and biogenetic technology techniques are a source of hope and enthusiasm, and on the one hand, of alarm and hostility on the other. So it’s a two-edge sword, we must have findings if this will be helpful to the environment, the people and for those that will be affected. A thorough study must be made,” Tuazon furthered. (Jandel Posion)