A group of farmers [on November 7] stormed the headquarters of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to protest the scheduled field tests of the genetically engineered variety called “golden rice” ….
“We are calling on our local leaders in Muñoz and San Mateo to reconsider the field trials of golden rice until the farmers and the people have the full assurance of its safety,” said Cris Panerio, national coordinator of Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Masipag), which led [the] protesters ….
The farmers said golden rice was being promoted by a multinational company that wanted to “control local food production by making farmers dependent on its seeds.”
But the PhilRice will proceed with the tests, which, Karen Eloisa Barroga, the institute’s deputy executive director for development, said were “important steps in the regulatory process to ensure the safety and bioefficacy of golden rice.”
The PhilRice, in partnership with International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), had embarked on the development of a golden rice version of local grains, among them PSB Rc82 (Peñaranda), a popular, high-yielding and widely grown rice variety.
IRRI said it believed golden rice might help address Vitamin A deficiency among Filipinos. The grain is genetically engineered with beta carotene, which can be a new food-based approach to improve the Vitamin A status of the malnourished poor, it said.
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