Philipino Farmers Uproot GMO “Golden” Rice, Philippines

"Golden Rice" doesn´t shine for farmers who oppose corporate control of seeds


Biosafety laws are supposed to set up a framework for taking precautionary steps and regulating the advance of GMOs. However, they have often had the opposite effect in supporting and legitimising the advance of GMOs, or they are implemented selectively. In the Philippines, this is evidenced by ‘Golden Rice’, a GM rice that has been modified to contain beta carotene which, when eaten, converts to vitamin A. In the case of GM eggplant, the Supreme Court of the Philippines recently decided that field tests cannot proceed on the grounds that the country’s biosafety regulations do not guarantee Filipinos’ constitutional right to a healthy environment. However, different standards are being applied in the case of Golden Rice, which has received tens of millions of dollars in funding and is a poster child for the industry that desperately wants to show that GMOs can benefit people by being nutritious.

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Basic Data
NamePhilipino Farmers Uproot GMO “Golden” Rice, Philippines
ProvinceCamarines Sur
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Specific CommoditiesRice
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsGolden Rice is being developed by a 'public-private partnership' led by Syngenta, one of the world's largest pesticide and seed corporations and the owner of the patent rights involved, and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

The GM rice being field tested, known as Golden Rice, is modified with two genes, one from bacteria and one from maize, to produce beta carotene, a source of Vitamin A, in the rice grain. Proponents of Golden Rice say that it could significantly reduce vitamin A deficiency, which can cause severe illness, blindness, and even death. But beta carotene is found abundantly in many plants and fruits that are already cultivated in Asia, such as carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes, and there is no need to put farmers and consumers at risk by introducing GMOs when these other sources are available.
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date01/08/2013
Company Names or State EnterprisesSyngenta from Switzerland
Philrice from Philippines - Local partner of Syngenta in developing GR
Relevant government actorsDepartment of Agriculture
International and Financial InstitutionsInternational Rice Research Institute
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters SIKWAL-GMO (Bicol Initiative Against Golden Rice), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bikol (KMB), GM Free Bicol, Peasant Movement of Bicol
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Street protest/marches
Boycotts of companies-products
Crop pulls
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseProject temporarily suspended
GR is under continued development
Development of AlternativesAccording to Dr. Medina, National Coordinator of farmer-scientis group MASIPAG:

There are existing and cheap sources of beta carotene. Philipines is home to green leafy vegetables and yellow fruit and rootcrops rich in Vitamin A. The yellow sweet potato (dilaw na kamote) has five times more beta carotene per gram than Golden Rice.

"Instead of focusing on the commercialization of Golden Rice, the government should focus more on ensuring access to food, diversifying food sources and sustainable food production to curb malnutrition.

"The Department of Agriculture and Philrice should also stop following the dictates of IRRI and transnational corporations, as Golden Rice will be a tool to open up the country to many more GMOs that results to further corporate control."
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.No institutional changes have been made and the project will likely continue. However the 2013 'advanced' Golden Rice trials showed low yields, which means the prospect of a GR release is fast receding. Philrice, the local partner of IRRI in the Golden Rice project has also said that this development has set back the plan to commercialize Golden Rice for another two to three years.
Sources and Materials

Republic Act no. 9168 (An Act to Provide Protection to New Plant Varieties, Establishing a National Plant Variety Protection Board and for Other Purposes); Republic Act 8371; Republic Act 7308; Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act no. 7308


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ContributorEJOLT Team
Last update14/02/2015