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Sustainable agriculture under attack in the Philippines
Greenpeace launched a series of deliberations in Negros Occidental which could repeal a landmark provincial ordinance aimed at transforming Negros Island into the premier organic food bowl of Asia.
“Revival of and rigorous reversal to traditional sustainable agricultural practices are key in adapting to the ongoing and impending impacts of climate change. Negros Occidental has been steadily building an international reputation as a showcase of sustainable farming practices.
It has banned the entry of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in the province as part of this noteworthy initiative,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner Daniel Ocampo.
“Negros public officials and citizens should question the motivations of parties who want this ordinance repealed: GMOs will reverse the province’s efforts to protect safe, organic farming, putting both farmers and consumers at risk.”
The province is one of the pioneers banning GMOs in the country with Provincial Ordinance 007, or the “Safeguard Against Genetically Modified Organisms," in 2007. Last April, the provincial government, upon order of Governor Isidro Zayco, upheld the ban by rejecting shipments of illegal GMO corn at the BredCo Port in Bacolod City.
GMO lobby groups reacted by questioning the ordinance. This prompted the provincial government to reiterate that it is maintaining the ban to prevent GMO contamination of normal crops in the province. Last month, however, “anti-organic farming parties were able to sway the Provincial Board (PB) of Negros Occidental to hold hearings to reconsider the ordinance,” said a statement from Greenpeace.
People of Negros, however, are starting to speak up in defense of their way of life. “Organic farming is not merely an option for Negros. It is the only means towards sustainable agricultural development and food security for the rural poor,” said Kid Bañas of the Negros Organic Alliance Movement. “There’s no place for GMOs in an organic Negros Occidental.”
It is, however, up to the PB to uphold the ordinance and ensure the safety of sustainable agriculture in the country’s organic food capital, said Ocampo.
“With the ordinance, Negros Occidental is clearly leading the way towards an agriculture that ensures food security, promotes biodiversity and is not anchored on the use of agrochemicals.”
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