BT CORN OPPONENTS DARED TO SHOW HAZARDS

Quezon City, May 31, 2003 -- The government has dared environmental 
non-government organizations (NGOs), particularly Greenpeace, to submit new 
evidence to prove their allegations the genetically-modified product 
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn seeds is harmful to humans, animals and 
the environment.

Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo Jr., in a letter in reply to Roberto 
Verzola, secretary general of Philippine Greens and board member of Pabinhi 
Pilipinas environmental groups, stressed real evidence to prove the 
genetically modified plant product is not fit for human and animal 
consumption and poses a threat to the environment is required before he can 
order any executive action on the matter.

Lorenzo made the challenge in response to a call by Verzola for a 
government moratorium on the local commercialization of Bt corn while at 
the same time urging for the revocation of Administrative Order 8, which 
approves the local propagation of plant products through modern biotechnology.

"...I wish to convey to you that unless new scientific evidence is received 
through the correct and due process, I consider myself estopped from 
further acting on your request for a moratorium," Lorenzo said in the 
letter dated May 14, 2003.

"...Since AO 8 does not provide for a moratorium, what you are in efect 
requesting me is to execute a unilateral action overriding more than two 
years of extensive national consultations with all stakeholders," he said.

He told the NGOs if they would be able to come up with proof of their 
claims of Bt corn's ill effects, they can submit it to the Bureau of Plant 
Industry (BPI), which will evaluate it and then decide whether it warrants 
for the government to conduct a review of AO 8.

BPI Excutive Director Blo Umpar Adiong, however, said the groups, despite 
asking for the moratorium, have yet to submit any formal transmittal of a 
request to review AO 8.

Verzola and his group, last May 21, ended a 29-day hunger strike to protest 
the propagation of Bt corn in the country. (PNA)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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