DAVAO CITY—After disallowing the growing of genetically modified plants alongside organic crops, including the experimental culture of the so-called Frankenstein varieties, the city council has started tackling a more detailed proposal to keep modified organisms out of the city.
The move was hailed by local anti-GMO (genetically modified organism) groups. “While the local Organic Agriculture Ordinance explicitly said that organic crops cannot coexist with genetically modified crops, we still need to protect our agricultural biodiversity from future attempts to plant GMO crops in the city,” Tina Delima of the group Sustainable Integrated Area Development Initiatives in Mindanao-Convergence for Asset Reform and Regional Development, said of the proposed ordinance.
Under the proposed ordinance, now the subject of public consultations being conducted by the city council, the mere entry of GMOs was to be outlawed.
Its importation, introduction, planting, growing, selling and trading would not be allowed, Councilor Benjamin Al-ag said of the proposed ordinance recently passed by Councilor Pilar Braga.
Go Organic Davao City, a network of organic farming practitioners and their supporters, said the approval of the proposed ordinance would totally shut down the city from GMOs.
It was also timely, the group said, as there had been recent attempts to revive field testing of GMOs at the University of the Philippines’ (UP) Mindanao campus here.
The field tests were halted in 2010 when Mayor Sara Duterte ordered genetically modified eggplant seedlings being grown at the UP Mindanao campus uprooted amid protests by anti-GMO groups led by Go Organic Davao City.
If the ordinance banning GMOs were approved, it would allow the city to tap the growing demand for organic products for domestic and international markets, said Ling Castro, policy advocacy officer of the Interface Development Interventions.
The market for organic products has been expanding at 10 to 30 per cent per year, she said. “Davao City, which is branding itself as Green Davao, can easily tap this market,” she added.
“By ensuring that no GMO crops will pollute our agricultural fields in the future, not only can we assure our food security but also the healthy quality of our produce,” she said. Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao