It can be done! SIBAT farm technicians once again showed that this soon- to- be harvested Red, Black and White Rice under Varietal Adaptability Trials (VAT) could really produce a potentially golden rice harvest. This means that we don’t really need hazardous genetically engineered rice crop to provide food for our homes and communities especially rice as our staple food which we Asians can do without.
This agroecological rice production through System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and Organic Rice Production processes is evidence that a farmer-led, ecologically attuned rice farming practice does not need costly and corporate-led rice growing technology that further impoverish farmers and jeopardize consumer health and welfare through production of toxic food crops.
We saw today the extensive campaign of agri-transnational corporation to control the means of food production, processing and distribution. Even governments of developing countries such as the Philippines are easily cajoled to adopt genetically modified crops. In the Philippines, it was successful with Bt Corn in 2002 with attempts again on Bt Eggplant commercialization in 2012 but thankfully this did not materialize. They are now pushing for Golden Rice commercialization. Thanks for all the efforts of agroecology advocates and practitioners, commercialization of Golden Rice in the Philippines will be in for a rough sailing. Through its continuing research through adaptability trials for rice, SIBAT will help promote agroecological rice production and diversified integrated farming systems and oppose Golden Rice through education, training and extension.
The development of Golden Rice may be considered a technological feat to integrate Vitamin A into the crop, but we think it is unfit and unnecessary. If it purports to address Vitamin A deficiencies, it is insufficient in fact as nutritionists have long pronounced that we can get enough Vitamins and minerals A included from various vegetable food crops that can even be grown in our backyard. There is no reported crisis of Vitamin A deficiency in the country and why the forceful push then to introduce Golden Rice? In fact rice production in the country is in a quandary being trapped in the chemical, hybrid pesticide formulae exacerbated by crippling policies such as the Rice Tariffication Law and import liberalization that’s killing the industry and the farmers in fact. The introduction of Golden Rice with its costly production system darkens further the horizons of rice farmers and consumers.
As all nations commemorates World Food Day this October or as civil society dubbed in fact as World Food Less Day, SIBAT joins the call to stop and positions NO to Golden Rice but Yes to Golden Harvest. We support the call for consumers especially mothers to provide only safe and nutritious food for their growing young. While we uphold the technological domain of rice production anchored on appropriate technology principles that are pro-farmer and environment, we further affirm the wholistic view of establishing a Peoples Food Systems that combined assertion of land and farmers rights, seed resources, women’s significant role in food production and strong peoples participation.