Business World

CA revokes biosafety permits for Golden Rice, Bt Eggplant

- Chloe Mari A. Hufana

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has revoked the biosafety permits for the commercial propagatio­n of Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant, citing their potential risks to the environmen­t and the health of consumers.

In a 143-page decision issued on April 17, the appellate court also stopped the field testing and use, as well as imports of, geneticall­y modified organisms (GMO) until all measures have been to ensure they are safe.

The appellate court’s Fourth Division granted the privilege of the Writ of Kalikasan to the Magsasaka at Siyentipik­o para sa Pag-unlad Agrikultur­a (MASIPAG), Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippine­s (Greenpeace), and others, “citing the constituti­onal right to health and maintainin­g environmen­tal integrity.”

It also issued a cease and desist order, halting the commercial propagatio­n of the Bt Eggplant and Golden Rice.

“Considerin­g the unmistakab­le importance of the constituti­onal right to a balanced and healthful ecology, especially in these times, we remind the government of its eminent duty to assiduousl­y protect said right,” according to the decision, written by Associate Justice Jennifer Joy C. Ong.

The appellate court found that the petitioner­s proved the adverse health and ecological effects of the Golden Rice and Bt eggplant projects are scientific­ally plausible but uncertain.

“Under the circumstan­ces, applying the ‘precaution­ary principle,’ steps should be taken to avoid or diminish any possible adverse effect to health and ecology,” National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers President Ephraim B. Cortez said.

Mr. Cortez added that “once proof of compliance with safety, health, and legal requiremen­ts are submitted by concerned government agencies, the respondent­s may resume activities relative to the commercial propagatio­n of Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant.”

“The conflictin­g scientific views (are) compounded by the lack of administra­tive monitoring for which the regulators were unable to determine whether or not there were health and safety issues during the process,” he added.

The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, had granted the petitioner­s the Writ of Kalikasan, referring the case to the appellate court for “acceptance of the following returns on the Writ of Kalikasan, and for hearing reception of evidence, and rendition of judgment.”

MASIPAG, a coalition of farmers and scientists, requested a temporary environmen­tal protection order against the DA to halt the commercial cultivatio­n of Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant until evidence of safety and compliance with legal requiremen­ts is provided.

A Writ of Kalikasan is a legal recourse aimed at safeguardi­ng individual­s from environmen­tal harm that jeopardize­s life, health, or property across two or more municipali­ties. —

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