The Supreme Court has been asked to nullify a decision of the Court of Appeals stopping the field-testing of genetically modified eggplants or Bt talong.
A group of farmers from Pangasinan and Bukidnon stressed that the CA decision issued in September last year violated their constitutional right to property and to protection of their means of livelihood.
They said they have known the benefits of the genetically modified eggplants, having significantly benefitted from them by shifting from farming of conventional maize or corn to the cultivation of the commercially successful Bt corn.
`Besides, the Bt talong is a product of the collaborative efforts of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, Incorporated (ISAAA), the University of the Philippines-Los Banos, the UPLB Foundation, and the University of Mindanao Foundation and that it is a “cost-effective” and “safe” solution to their dilemma with the eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB), being the most pervasive and destructive pest of eggplants, they said.
The petitioners pointed out that roughly 40 percent of total eggplants they harvested are rejected for being unmarketable due to the damage caused by the EFSB.
“Apart from completely ignoring the challenges to sustainable food supply, these issuances spell the death for technology and innovation in agriculture, and essentially, for human civilization which is largely dependent on sustainable food source to flourish,” they said.
They lamented that the CA ruling dismissed the tremendous potential of Bt technology in improving crop productivity.”
They said that Bt technology would have allow farmers to make profits from farming considering that higher costs for farm inputs have made eggplant farming less profitable.
“The problem has been exacerbated by cheap subsidized eggplants from China, which drive prices of eggplants downward, causing growers such as the petitioner-farmers to suffer from reduced income,” they added.
The petitioners also filed a 16-page motion for leave to intervene to allow them as intervenors in the judicial review of the ruling of the appellate court granting a Writ of Kalikasan to the petition of Greenpeace-Southeast Asia Philippines disallowing the field testing of Bt talong.
The petitioners cited the policy of public participation in environmental cases to ensure that issues on environmental safety are fully addressed from all perspective.
In January this year, the ISAAA also asked the SC to reverse the CA ruling adding that the later erred when it granted the petition of Greenpeace and issued the writ against the trial of Bt talong despite the fact that scientists at UPLB had already proven that it is safe for the environment.
The group said Bt crops are also safe as human foods citing a European Union (EU) report on 130 EU research projects covering a period of 25 years indicating that eating genetically modified foods is not different from eating foods with conventional crops.
It also pointed out that even the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), the government agency mandated to regulate field trials, has also testified as to the safety to the environment of Bt eggplant trials.
The BPI said a total of 171 field trials of the genetically modified talong in Pangasinan, Camarines Sur, Davao City, Laguna and North Cotabato have been conducted since 2002.