Asia watches as GMO legal challenge threatens Philippines food supply
A legal challenge to the Philippines' rules on genetically modified organisms is threatening to spark a food crisis in the country and could cloud the outlook for GM technology around Asia.
Government agencies are scrambling to set new regulations on GMOs by Feb. 23 after the Southeast Asian nation's top court late last year demanded an overhaul of existing rules, halting GM planting and issuance of new GM import permits until that was done.
The Supreme Court was acting on a petition by environmental activists led by Greenpeace, with the move likely to be closely watched by governments elsewhere as the Philippines is seen as a trailblazer for GMO.
The country was the first in the region to allow planting and commercialization of GM corn, which it did in 2002, and has permitted GM crop imports for more than a decade.
And you can see all the harm it's done, right?
Around 70 percent of the Philippines' corn output, which stood at 7.5 million tonnes last year, is GM. The country's top GM import is soybean meal. Both are mainly used as animal feed and any supply disruption could spell disaster for the livestock sector.
The Supreme Court's December ruling is "anti-nationalistic when you look at it from the perspective of the country's food security", said Roger Navarro, president of Philippine Maize Federation.
Corn farmers are worried they might not be able to plant in May.
"The livelihood of almost 1 million farmers nationwide will be threatened," said Romualdo Elvira Jr., a farmer from the northern province of Bicol.
Using non-GM seeds, a hectare yields around 3 tonnes of corn, said Oliver Aldovino, part of a farmer cooperative on the southern island of Mindanao. Aldovino, who switched to GM seven years ago, said output doubled with GM corn.
Sure, go back to growing half as much food; we'll stay in San Francisco drinking Starbucks
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