As a busy city dweller, am not the most environmentally-active person around. That is why am thankful when internationally-known groups like Greenpeace get in touch with me, as what happened with this site’s reports on the e-jeeps. Their work keeps me up-to-date on their tireless lobby for sustainability and the protection of Mother Nature (even now as we speak, they were hailing the passage of the Renewable Energy bill).
So many things going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about. Take for example, our knowledge of rice, the basic Filipino staple. All I really know about is how rice has become expensive these days, and the irony of importing from countries like Thailand which learned from us on rice technologies a few decades ago. Now, Greenpeace has raised the alarm on the possibility of GMO-contaminated rice having reached our shores. Through our road trip last week, I was able to learn that organic is still the best, and how local farmers should be lauded for hanging on to age-old practices that never use fertilizers and such, because they are harmful to the environment.
First things first, GMO means Genetically Modified Organism. The guidebook says ” GMOs are products of genetic engineering in which the genes of one species are inserted randomly into the DNA of an entirely different organism in a way that can never happen naturally. An example is a tomato inserted with genes from a fish to create a vegetable with a longer shelf life, or corn inserted with bacteria genes to create a crop that has its own built-in insecticide.”
Greenpeace’s take on the matter is that GMOs are experimental; therefore, they may not be safe as their long-term effects on humans and the environment are unknown. Also, GMO seeds and their patents are controlled by large agri-business interests, giving rise to fears that this could impact on food prices and their supply in general.
According to Daniel Ocampo, Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s genetic engineering campaigner, they would like to prevent the dumping of GMO-tainted rice in the Philippines, even as those GMO stocks from the US could already have arrived in the country. Back in 2006, US rice imports were rejected by governments in Europe, Asia and the Americas for being tainted with GMO. Back then, it was found out that banned US rice were being sold in Philippine supermarkets. After an expose, the rice stocks in question were pulled out and the NFA required US rice imports to be certified GMO-free.