Court Revokes Biosafety Permits for GM Crops in the Philippines

Court Revokes Biosafety Permits for GM Crops in the Philippines

A recent decision by a court in the Philippines has significant ramifications for the commercial propagation of genetically modified (GM) crops, specifically targeting golden rice and Bt eggplant.

Background Information

  1. Golden Rice
    • Engineered to contain higher levels of iron, zinc, and beta-carotene.
    • Aimed at addressing vitamin A deficiency.
    • Initially approved for commercial production in the Philippines in 2021.
  2. Bt Eggplant
    • Developed by the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB).
    • Designed to enhance safety for farmers and consumers, increase productivity, and improve environmental conditions in eggplant-producing areas.

Court Decision

  1. Cease and Desist Order
    • Issued by the Court of Appeals of the Philippines (CA) on April 17, 2024.
    • Halts commercial propagation, field testing, and related activities for golden rice and Bt eggplant.
  2. Reasoning
    • Cites safety violations and non-compliance with legal requirements.
    • Emphasizes the absence of adequate safety monitoring mechanisms.
    • Mandates proof of safety and compliance before resumption of activities.

Response and Implications

  1. Support from Non-Profit Organizations
    • Greenpeace and other organizations welcome the decision, highlighting its alignment with constitutional rights and public interests.
  2. Legal Action
    • Petitioners, including farmers, scientists, and NGOs, filed for a ‘Writ of Kalikasan’ to protect environmental rights.
    • Respondents include governmental agencies and research institutions involved in GM crop development.
  3. Impact on Research Institutions
    • Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and UPLB respond to the decision, acknowledging the need for compliance and legal review.

Public Health Concern

  • Recognized as a significant public health issue by the World Health Organization.
  • Particularly prevalent in regions like sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs):

  1. What prompted the recent court decision in the Philippines regarding GM crops?
    • a) Safety violations and non-compliance
    • b) Pressure from international organizations
    • c) Economic considerations
    • d) Lack of agricultural research funding
    Answer: a) Safety violations and non-compliance
  2. Which organization developed golden rice?
    • a) Greenpeace
    • b) University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB)
    • c) Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice)
    • d) World Health Organization
    Answer: c) Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice)
  3. What legal action was taken by the petitioners regarding GM crops?
    • a) Writ of Habeas Corpus
    • b) Writ of Mandamus
    • c) Writ of Kalikasan
    • d) Writ of Certiorari
    Answer: c) Writ of Kalikasan
  4. What is the primary objective of Bt eggplant development?
    • a) Enhancing vitamin A content
    • b) Increasing iron and zinc levels
    • c) Improving environmental conditions
    • d) Enhancing crop productivity
    Answer: c) Improving environmental conditions