RESIST Agrochemical TNCs!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Changing the World's Agriculture and People's Resistance

"Forum - Workshop and Photo Exhibit"
The Politics of Pesticides: changing the World's Agriculture and People's Resistance"
December 3 to 8, 2004

December 3, 2004 is the 20th anniversary of
Bhopal Chemical Disaster in India. To support the day of action, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia and the Pacific launched December 3 as the global "No Pesticides Use Day" in 1999.

To join the Bhopal campaing and No pesticides Use day, Resist is launching a project entitled Forum-Workshop and Photo Exhibit on “No Pesticides Day” with the theme The Politics of Pesticides: Changing the World’s Agriculture and People’s Resistance, from December 3 to 8, 2004. The event, to commemorate Bhopal, and PAN’s “No Pesticides Day” campaign, will be held in different schools, universities and colleges in selected places in Manila, Nueva Ecija, Laguna, Bicol, Cordillera, and Cagayan Valley. The general objective of the event is to increase awareness of the students, academes and farmers on the issue of pesticides on agriculture. Specific objectives include: Revealing the peasant and scientist testimonies on the effects of pesticides on agriculture; and Sharing the on-going alternative efforts against pesticides. The Photo Exhibit (with the same theme) will focus on the historical background of the pesticides; health, environment and socio-economic effects brought about by pesticides; and the people’s resistance and alternatives to pesticides. The exhibit will be placed for 1 week in the selected schools, universities and colleges. With a minimum of five to ten schools or universities for the duration of the event, RESIST, which involves the peasants movement of the Philippines (KMP) and various groups such as SIBAT, SEARICE and PAN Philippines, expects to mobilise more than 3,000 students and academes.
for more information contact resist secretariat : or tel +63-2-434-5467(KMP)

Friday, November 12, 2004

GMO Updates

by Neth Daño

The Philippines has gone full-blown in promoting and allowing the commercialization of genetically modified crops since the approval of Monsanto’s MON 810 Bt corn in December 2002. At the start of her term as the EDSA 2 president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has adopted a clear pro-GMO stance through an official Policy Statement on Modern Biotechnology which pushes for the “safe use” of genetic engineering.

Under the Department of Agriculture’s Administrative Order No. 8 adopted in May 2002, which sets the guidelines for the importation and commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) accepts, processes and approves applications from proponents and importers. AO 8, which claims to be based on the provisions of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, lays down a very superficial process of so-called public notification in the approval process. Ironically, the Philippines has not yet signed the Protocol which environment and foreign affairs officials actively negotiated for five years until its adoption in January 2000. Senate deliberations on the ratification of the Protocol oversimplified the debate on GMOs as a trade war between the US and the EU, with the Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture concluding that the Philippines should not yet sign the Protocol since the US has not done so. If the Senate of the 13th Congress will re-affirm this subservient line of thinking, there is no possibility for the Philippines to sign the Protocol in the foreseeable future. So far, more than 110 countries have already signed the Protocol and agreed to be bound by its rules on the transboundary movement of GMOs.

Here is a glimpse of the current developments on GMOs in the Philippines.

Bt Corn

There are no reliable data on the actual land area under Bt corn cultivation, but estimates run around 20,000 hectares at the end of 2003. The DA does not even have statistics on how much Bt corn has been sold by Monsanto and how much land is planted to Bt corn. In a dialogue with some NGOs in May 2003, former Assistant Secretary Techie Capellan admitted that the government does not require companies to report such information “to protect their proprietary interests”.

Bt corn seeds are sold at P4,500 for a package of 23 kg. bag that can be planted to a hectare. Compare that to the P2,300 price of ordinary hybrid corn seeds of the same amount. Monsanto imported the seeds from its growers in South Africa in 2003 and has targeted the marketing of the seeds to rich and medium-scale corn farmers in the Philippines. The government has also offered the facilities of its Quedan Credit Corporation to extend loans to farmers who plant Bt corn.

As expected, Monsanto and the Department of Agriculture claimed that Bt corn has significantly increased corn yield across the country. No independent source, however, has verified those glossy claims. Monitoring done by MASIPAG and SEARICE in Iloilo and North Cotabato, respectively, showed that Bt corn performed poorly, is more susceptible to such fungal diseases as leaf rust and stalk rot, and yielded much lower than ordinary hybrids. Both organizations found out that Bt corn was not infested by corn borer, simply because there was no corn borer infestation at all in those two areas.

BB Rice

The National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) has approved the joint application of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRICE) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to conduct limited field trials of their genetically engineered bacterial blight resistant rice (BB rice) in Munoz, Nueva Ecija and Los Banos, Laguna in late 2002. PhilRICE conducted the field trials within its experimental fields in Maligaya, Munoz during the wet and dry seasons in 2003. Both trials showed that the conventionally-bred bacterial blight resistant rice performed better than the genetically engineered BB rice. PhilRICE has earlier developed a bacterial blight resistant rice through conventional breeding using the same XA 21 gene from a wild rice.

There are reports that IRRI is currently conducting its open field trials of genetically engineered rice in some areas is Los Banos and Bay in Laguna. The NCBP approval only allows IRRI to conduct the limited field trials within its experimental stations.

BB rice is projected to be the first genetically engineered rice to be allowed for commercial use in the Philippines. Proponents expect less consumer and public concern on the health and environmental impacts of BB rice since the source gene that codes for bacterial blight resistance engineered into rice came from a wild rice relative and not from a totally unrelated species.

At the very least, that is a preposterous claim since genetically engineered BB rice, while indeed the target gene comes from a wild rice, still uses the same recombinant DNA technique that relies on the use of gene promoters, gene terminators and gene markers, all of which come from totally unrelated organisms such as viruses and soil organisms. Also, if PhilRICE was able to develop a bacterial blight resistant rice through conventional breeding, which does not require undergoing biosafety requirements, it defies one’s imagination why should they spend precious research funds and time to develop a genetically engineered BB rice?

Bt Cotton

The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) is planning to import and introduce genetically engineered Bt cotton seeds into the country, in collaboration with a Chinese private company called Bio-Century Transgenic. The Bt cotton variety, patented in China, was engineered to express double insect resistance to cotton bollworm plus proteinase inhibitor (CpTI).

The proponents claim that Bt cotton would be a good substitute industrial crop for farmers planting tobacco which is on a steady decline in the international market. They are particularly targeting the sand dune areas in northern Luzon, Visayas, Saranggani and South Cotabato provinces for Bt cotton cultivation. There are around 20,000 hectares of lands across the country planted to hybrid cotton varieties.

Bt cotton proponents, in a meeting with a few NGOs and industry representatives on 28 June, are optimistic that the Philippines can replicate the experience of China in Bt cotton cultivation which resulted to increased yields. Around 2.5 million hectares are currently planted to Bt cotton in China, equivalent to some 60 percent of the total land area devoted to cotton. China is one the world’s top exporter of cotton. The Philippines imports some 95 percent of its cotton requirements, which could be greatly reduced if production of Bt cotton will be intensified in the country, claims the proponents.

MASIPAG and SEARICE, the only two NGOs present in the meeting, countered that the agro-climactic situation in the Philippines is very different from China, thus it would be unrealistic to assume the same result from the introduction of Bt cotton. They highlighted the environmental consequences resulting from the commercial cultivation of Bt cotton, such as pest resistance, effects on non-target organisms and effects on soil organisms. They also stressed the socio-economic dimensions of Bt cotton that need to be seriously considered since the experiences in India, Indonesia and Africa show that Bt cotton does not benefit small farmers, does not give substantial yield increase and does not substantially lessen the use of chemical pesticides. In China, the government massively subsidizes the seeds and chemical inputs which allow small farmers to plant industrial crops such as cotton.

Proponents from the DA are optimistic that Bt cotton will easily meet the biosafety requirements set by the National Committee on Biosafety (NCBP) and hopes that the open field trials will start by November 2004. They also expressed confidence that Bt cotton will not meet strong public resistance since it is not meant for food and it is not produced by a transnational corporation. Interestingly, during the meeting, one government scientist pointed out that it is a wrong assumption that cotton is not used as food in the Philippines since she used to eat cotton nuts and consume cotton oil when she was growing up in Ilocos!

GMOs for Food, Feed and Processing

As of May 2004, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) has approved the importation of 17 GMOs for food, feed and processing (FFP). These products include corn, soybeans, cotton, canola (rape), potato and sugar beets which will all end up as food products, feed for animals and for industrial processing or manufacturing.

FFP as a category of GMOs, which are not meant for cultivation, was adopted by AO 8 from the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. GMOs classified as FFPs go through a simplified procedure of transboundary movement, which means faster approval process. All the importers need to show are documents from the country of export that the products have been declared safe for human and animal consumption by the regulatory authorities from the source country. Note that most of these GMOs were imported from the US where they are declared as “safe” by regulatory agencies based on evidence and documents produced by the same companies that produced the products. There is even less room for public participation to question to importation for FFP compared to the process required in field or commercial releases for cultivation.

It is interesting to note that AO 8 does not have any provision at all on post-release monitoring, much less for FFPs. How can then the BPI and the DA assure that none of the raw corn, soybeans, canola and cotton seeds imported for FFP did not end up being planted somewhere by accident or otherwise? -end-

Genuine Peasant Representative, Now in Congress

ANAKPAWIS Party List representative, Rafael Mariano. Posted by Hello
Genuine Peasant Representative, Now in Congress
by Rhoda Gueta, KMP

ANAKPAWIS (Toiling Masses) Party List emerged victorious by ranking no. 5 in more than 200 Party List organizations that took part in the May 2004 national elections.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and its affiliated peasant organizations stated that the victory was made possible by the hard work and committed efforts from the mass support of peasants, peasant women, fisherfolk, workers and peasant advocates.

Anakpawis’ nationwide strength was founded in the determined and dedicated efforts of its mass base, particularly the peasants. By organizing the community members, active endorsement and campaigns, and forming effective tactical alliances, it carried Anakpawis towards victory.

Anakpawis got 532,636 votes which secured two seats for the party list in the 13th Congress, namely Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano (KMP National Chair) and Crispin Beltran (former Bayan Muna Party List Representative and Kilusang Mayo Uno’s Chairman Emeritus). Ka Paeng is a Convenor of the Resistance and Solidarity Against Agrochemical TNCs (RESIST) in September 2001.

The KMP sees Anakpawis’, especially Ka Paeng, entrance into Congress as a means for the Philippine peasantry to advance their struggle for genuine land reform.

Dr. Gani Tapang, also a RESIST Convenor said, “Ka Paeng’s entry into Congress is the entry of a genuine peasant representative. With a long history of genuinely serving the interests of the peasants, Ka Paeng will articulate and assert our concerns and demands.”

Ka Paeng’s first sponsored bill entitled “Farmers Rights Land Act”, filed on 17 August 2004, will impose the direct right of farmers to the land that they till in every aspect to ensure farmers’ security of tenure and agricultural productivity.

Ka Paeng’s victory inspired RESIST to create a Legislative Team, composed of KMP, BISSIG, MASIPAG, SEARICE and PAN-Philippines, to handle its legislative work. The team identified its Legislative Agenda for the 13th Congress in a meeting on 21 July 2004. The agenda includes the proposed Farmers’ Rights Land Act authored by Rep. Rafael Mariano, bills that counter genetically modified organisms (GMOs), repeal of the Plant Variety Protection Act, repeal of PD 1620, review of PD 457 and PD 1046-A, and amendment of PD 1144. It also covers resolutions calling for the investigation of the Bureau of Plant Industry in connection with the commercialization of GM crops, inquiry on the impacts of hybrid rice, and measures to prevent harassment suits. -end-


by SEARICE-Bohol

In cooperation with the provincial government of Bohol, through the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA), the Bohol Initiatives for Sustainable Agriculture and Development (BISAD) organized a seminar on organic agriculture standards and certification on 21-22 July 2004 at JJ’s Seafood Village, Tagbilaran City. The seminar is part of the official program of the annual Sandugo Agri-Fair held in Bohol.

Participants in the seminar included the staff and partners of BISAD’s member organizations and other interested groups. Seminar participants who will complete a follow-up training on certification and inspection to be organized by BISAD later will become official organic certifiers and inspectors. The trainees will be tapped by BISAD to evaluate farms and producers to ensure that they have followed basic standards in organic production. Producers who pass the certification and inspection process will receive certification from BISAD that their products are organic. This will enable producers to sell their products at premium prices and also assure consumers that they are buying certified organic goods.

According to BISAD President Rubin Balistoy, the seminar was conducted in response to the increasing consumer demand for good quality organic products and the growing concerns about the effects of chemical-based agriculture on human health and the environment. The activity is part of the continuous efforts of BISAD, as a provincial network of sustainable agriculture practitioners and advocates, to promote the organic agriculture movement in the province and help Bohol find a niche in the growing global market for organic foods.

BISAD tapped the expertise of the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP) to conduct the seminar. OCCP is an independent, private and membership-based organic standards-setting and certifying body. It regularly holds seminars and workshops on organic agriculture standards and certification for producers, consumers and related government and non-government organizations.

Organic agriculture is a holistic production management that promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It emphasizes the use of off-farm inputs that utilize, where possible, agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods to fulfill any specific function within a given farming system. Such production management system must conform to the national standards and/or the standards of a certifying body. Presently, the country has the Philippine National Standards for Organic Agriculture and Processing (referred to as PNS/BAFPS 07:2003) as the national regulatory standard for organic production and processing. The OCCP uses this standard for its trainings on organic certification and inspection.

BISAD believes that the adoption of organic agriculture, a sustainable and environment-friendly management system, is vitally linked to market access. In order to assure consumers that the products they buy are truly organic, a certification or guarantee system must be operational. BISAD hopes that the seminar will help the network start instituting a local organic certification system. -end-

Anti-GMO Ordinance Launched at Sandugo Agri-Fair

by SEARICE-Bohol

Bohol’s Provincial Ordinance No. 2003-01, otherwise known as the “Safeguard Against the Entry of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the Province of Bohol”, was launched at the annual Sandugo Agri-Fair on 21 July 2004. The activity was highlighted by the unveiling of the anti-GMO billboard which will be posted soon at the Tagbilaran City Port.

Governor Erico Aumentado led the activity. He was joined by Vice-Governor Herrera, Provincial Agriculturist Liza Quirog, Bohol Nature Conservation Society (BONACONSO) adviser Zenaida Darunday, Loreto Palapos of the Bohol Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (BCCI) and Msgr. Cirilo Darunday of the Diocese of Tagbilaran. More than 200 people from different non-government organizations (NGOs), peoples’ organizations (POs), government offices, and the participants in the organic agriculture standards and certification seminar joined the parade.

In his launching message, Governor Aumentado stressed the need for the Boholanos to be vigilant in safeguarding the province from the entry of GMOs. He added that monitoring the entry of GMOs in Bohol is not merely the task of the GMO Monitoring Committee but of all Boholanos. Two concerned groups from Mindanao expressed their support and congratulated Bohol for being the first province in the Philippines to adopt an Ordinance against GMOs.

The launching also marked the commencement of the education and awareness-raising campaign on the Anti-GMO Ordinance in the different municipalities of Bohol. Aside from the billboard at Tagbilaran City Port, the GMO Monitoring Committee also plans to put up anti-GMO billboards prominently in the port towns of Ubay, Tubigon, Jagna, Loon and Talibon. The Committee is composed of representatives of civil society, private sector and the government.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council) of Bohol unanimously passed Resolution No. 2003-235 declaring Bohol as free of GMOs after a year of tedious lobbying work by farmers’ organizations and NGOs and discussions at the municipal and provincial levels. The measure aims to protect the ecological balance in the province as the country’s prime ecological tourism site. The enactment is also in line with the efforts of the provincial government to promote Bohol as a leading source of organically-grown products. -end-

BISAD Breaks New Grounds at 2004 Sandugo Agri-Fair

by SEARICE-Bohol

The Bohol Initiatives for Sustainable Agriculture and Development (BISAD), a provincial network of farmers organizations, consumers’ groups, private sector and NGOs involved in sustainable agriculture, continued its tradition of joining the annual Bohol Sandugo Agri-Fair with a line-up of groundbreaking activities.

The Sandugo Agri-Fair was held on 19-23 July 2004 at the Tagbilaran City tourism port. This year’s agri-fair served as platform for BISAD to launch its long-planned weekly organic tabo while also laying the ground for implementing the network’s organic certification and inspection system.

Like in previous agri-fairs, BISAD put up a booth for organically-grown products and a photo exhibit of activities by the network and its members. Members from the business sector also displayed their processed food products adjacent to BISAD’s main booth.

The tabo is an opportunity for the farmer-members and producers of BISAD to sell their products directly to consumers once a week to meet the growing demand for organic products as well as address the farmers’ need for a regular and direct marketing outlet for their products. The weekly tabo will be held at the Provincial Capitol grounds every Sunday starting August.

BISAD, with the support of the provincial government, also organized a two-day basic seminar on organic certification as part of the official Sandugo Agri-Fair activities. The seminar, participated in by BISAD members, will set in motion the implementation of the network’s organic certification and inspection system to be adopted within this year. A specialized training on certification and inspection will be conducted soon, with the participants forming the core of BISAD’s official certifiers and inspectors who will help ensure that farmers and producers follow the basic standards in organic production.

BISAD also took part in the public launching of Bohol’s GMO-Free Ordinance on 21 July 2004. The Ordinance, which bans the entry of genetically modified plants, animals and micro-organisms in the province, is seen as a major step in making Bohol a prime organic-producing province in the country free from GMO contamination.

Protest Action to Monsanto!

Peasant protesters sprayed "Boycott!" to show their anger at the front of Monsanto's regional office in General Santos City. (May 24, 2004)
 Posted by Hello

Filipino Farmers “Convict” Monsanto Corporation


“MONSANTO, Guilty!”

This was the resounding verdict that farmers from different parts of the Philippines cried out during a protest action in front of Monsanto’s regional office in General Santos City in the island of Mindanao on 27 May 2004. Around 1,000 farmers, along with scientists and other NGOs, charged Monsanto guilty for violating farmers’ rights to seeds, technology, land and genetic resources.

To support the ‘case’ against Monsanto, farmers and NGOs presented facts and evidences gathered from the farmers’ experience in the fields.

Three farmers revealed damaging accounts against Monsanto’s Bt corn which is being widely sold and planted in the Philippines. Pablo Senon, a farmer and tribal leader from Polomolok, South Cotabato recounted the ordeals of the residents of Sityo Kalyong when they simultaneously suffered from illnesses during the flowering stage of Bt corn in a nearby field. Dr. Terje Traavik, a Norwegian virologist, revealed from their initial laboratory studies that antibodies detected in the blood samples of 37 of the 51 victims indicate that toxins might have entered the victims’ bodies which reacted through flue-like symptoms.

“We have suffered greatly because of the Bt corn near our homes. Worse, instead of helping us, the government reacted by saying that Dr. Traavik’s studies are not credible,” said Senon. “The government should stop the commercialization of Bt corn in the country before more people suffer.”

Farmers from Iloilo testified on the failure of Bt corn in their fields and the apparent deception of the companies peddling the genetically modified crop. In September 2003, about 40 percent of the Bt corn plants in a 0.75 hectare land was damaged by stalk rot, a kind of fungus that dries up the stalk and leaves of the plant. As a result, the farmer who planted the transgenic corn only harvested around 2,000 kg., which is half of the expected 4,000 kg. normal yield. Similar cases occurred in other parts of the country, namely in Bicol and South Cotabato provinces, where Bt corn plants were infested, not with corn borer but with other diseases such as stalk rot and pests such as the corn silk beetle.

“It only goes to show that using Bt corn is not a guarantee for high yield, as opposed to what Monsanto is telling farmers and the government,” said Boy Gonzales, a farmer from Iloilo province in the Visayas. “Even if we use Bt corn, farmers still cannot emerge from poverty because our main problem is soil infertility, low prices of corn in the market, usury, and many others.”

Aside from susceptibility to pests and diseases, farmers also pointed out that Monsanto is milking so much money from farmers with the high cost of Bt corn seeds. A bag of Bt corn seeds enough for a hectare of land costs P4,500 ($81), compared to ordinary hybrid corn which costs only P2,300 ($41). The difference is the amount that farmers pay Monsanto for technology fee. Based on reports, there are 20,000 hectares of land across the Philippines planted to Bt corn, and if Monsanto earns P2,200 ($40) per hectare from selling Bt corn seeds, then they earned at least P44 million ($790,000) in 2003 alone!

“This is a great burden for small, resource-poor farmers. Most of us have to borrow money with large interests just to afford the high cost of farm inputs,” said Nilo Selguerra, a farmer from Iloilo and a member of the MASIPAG Board. “Monsanto again proves that profit is their priority, and not the farmers’ welfare.”

Sarah Wright, researcher and PhD candidate at the University of Washington, gave the opening statement for the ‘prosecution.’ She presented Monsanto’s questionable history and agenda which was published in last year’s “Selling Food. Health. Hope: The Real Story Behind Monsanto Corporation,” which Wright researched and wrote for MASIPAG.

“Monsanto’s record shows that it is a company that cannot be trusted,” said Wright. “It has poisoned communities and ecosystems, created poisons to be sprayed from the sky in times of war and pumped millions of pounds of chemicals into rivers and streams.”

“This is the corporation that is now trying to gain control of our food system through acquiring patents on the very basic mode of production, the seeds.”

Other farmers and militant leaders condemned Monsanto and the looming control by transnational corporations of the agriculture sector. They all called for agriculture to be in the control of farmers, not with transnational corporations with corporate agenda. MASIPAG, along with the local chapter of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines), and SEARICE (Southeast Asia Research Initiatives for Community Empowerment), all of which are active members of RESIST (Resistance and Solidarity Against Agrochemical TNCs), called for the stopping of the commercialization of Bt corn in the Philippines.

The protest action is the culmination activity of the three-day MASIPAG Fifth General Assembly held at the Notre Dame of Sto. Niño School in Sto. Niño, South Cotabato. MASIPAG (Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development), a network of farmers, scientists, peoples’ organizations and non-government organizations working towards farmer empowerment through sustainable agriculture, holds a General Assembly (GA) every three years. This year’s GA carried the theme, “Strengthening Farmers’ Rights and Community Conservation of Genetic Resources in the Globalized Era” and included several activities such as workshops on different technical and advocacy topics, roundtable discussion among scientists and members of the academe, and internal matters such as election of the new Board of Trustees (BOT). About 200 farmers from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao attended the GA, together with representatives from non-government organizations (NGOs), the church and the academe. #

Protest Action of Bt-Corn seeds!!

Protest Action fired Bt-corn seeds in General Santos City in May 24, 2004 with 1,000 protesters joined by different organizations like local chapters of KMP, Anakpawis-partylist, Masipag, Searice and other peasant advocates.
 Posted by Hello

Peasant Solon Lectures House

149 legislators get crash course on Peasant 101
Condensed from an article in by

The session hall of the House of Representatives took a different turn last 16 August. Instead of the usual rambunctious speech dished out by most regular members of the House, some 149 congressmen sat attentively to hear the first speech delivered by a colleague representing the peasantry.
Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, 48, a representative from the Anakpawis (toiling masses) party-list, was no stranger to a speaker’s podium: As chair of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement in the Philippines) for several years, Mariano led and spoke in rallies, and he was also frequently invited to international forums.
Clad in plain barong tagalog donated by a friend, Mariano’s debut privileged speech in the landlord-dominated House was itself a first: He gave his fellow legislators a version of Peasant 101. Peasant 101 is a mass course on the plight of Filipino farmers, which is usually discussed in peasant villages and fisherfolk communities.

At exactly 7:42 p.m., Mariano addressed the House. In his speech, Ka Paeng ridiculed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), which aside from imposing additional tax measures, promised economic growth and to create 10 million jobs in six years. He asked: “Does Mrs. Arroyo have magic?” The speech was an all-out, hard-hitting political piece directed against the President’s shotgun proposals for legislation.
Mariano dismissed Mrs. Arroyo’s ambition to create 10 million jobs in the next six years as out of this world, rhetoric and the grandmother of all slogans. Citing official sources, he said the country’s employment rate has been sinking from 88.2 percent rate of employment in April 1999 to 86.3 percent in April 2004. He added that today, 4.9 million Filipinos are jobless with unemployment rate going up to 13.7 percent as of April, compared to 12.2 percent in the same month last year. In the agriculture and fisheries sectors, labor statistics showed that 481,000 farmers and small fisherfolk were displaced from their main source of livelihood. Ka Paeng asked what will the President do since even the National Statistics Office (NSO) is having a hard time hiding the truth.


Mariano said that the conversion of agricultural lands to non-agricultural uses has been accelerating at an alarming rate, with farmlands devoted to rice production shrinking by 19 percent from 3.4 million hectares in 1991 to 2.8 million hectares in 2001. He also scored the Arroyo administration’s proposal to allot one million to two million hectares of agricultural lands to agribusiness expansion in the country.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) accomplishment report from 1998-2003 reveals that from the targeted 4.29 million hectares of agricultural lands, the DAR distributed only 3.412 million hectares, with a backlog of 876,000 hectares target for distribution. Granting that these figures were accurate, Ka Paeng asked where will the President get the one million to two million hectares she plans to bargain with agribusiness. A study made by the Anakpawis party predicts that the administration’s plan will result to the eviction of one million peasants from their farmlands given the average size of one-half hectare distributed by DAR to every farmer beneficiary of its land reform program.

The party list solon also lambasted business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco in his maiden speech and cited his case as classic example on the perils and evils of agribusiness expansion in the country. Mariano said the Isabela-based peasant association, Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon ti Isabela (Dagami) is opposed to the grandiose project of Cojuangco’s business empire San Miguel Corporation (SMC) plan to convert 150,000 hectares of farmlands covering the province’s 13 towns as the biggest cassava plantation in the country, along with another 150,000 hectares planned in Cagayan province.

Not only collateral damage

The peasant congressman also assailed Malacanang’s proposal for Congress to pass a law on Farmlands as Bank Collateral, identified by economic planning secretary Romulo Neri as a necessary legislative measure. Mariano stressed that the proposal was closely attuned to imperialist globalization and market-driven land reform program.

Citing Land Bank data, Mariano said only 90,311 farmer beneficiaries were able to pay land amortization, or about 2 percent of the total 4.3 million beneficiaries of the government’s land reform program. He added that reports from regional chapters of KMP indicate that 43,598 hectares of prime agricultural lands in Southern Tagalog were converted to export-oriented and import-dependent industrial and commercial undertakings. He cited that inside the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga, 44,000 hectares of farmlands were turned into industrial and commercial zones at the expense of not less than 10,000 tilling families inside the former US airbase.

Below par performance

Mariano also disputed a claim by the Department of Agriculture (DA) that the agriculture and fisheries sector posted a gross income of P 664.7 billion from January to December 2003. Despite the frequent visits of typhoons, the DA said that the sector recorded a 3.77 percent growth rate last year or an increase of 6.02 percent compared to 2002. Meanwhile, the fishery sector grew by 7.51 percent in 2003, with aquaculture providing the biggest increase with production growing by 8.9 percent. Municipal production went up by 6.66 percent and commercial fishery posted an increase of 6.38 percent.

Mariano dismissed the claimed outputs in agriculture and fisheries as par below performance and “statistically improbable”, adding that the growth rates did not reflect in the economic status and standard of living of millions of people in the countryside.

Before serving Congress, Mariano was also chair of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN, New Patriotic Alliance). The farmer only reached first year college and had to drop out from an agricultural school in Central Luzon because his parents could not afford it. He got involved in the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon-Nueva Ecija Chapter (Alliance of Farmers in Central Luzon) during Martial Law and later became Secretary General of the region-wide Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang .

Mariano’s KMP advocates genuine agrarian reform and many of its leaders and members in the rural provinces found themselves victims of human rights violations. He joined Anakpawis last year as national president. -end-

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Schmeiser, Steinbrecher to Join PC 2004 in the Philippines

by Neth Daño

Percy Schmeiser, the canola (or rape, a member of Brassica family) farmer from Saskatchewan, Canada who was sued by Monsanto for illegally growing its genetically engineered Round Up Ready canola, is coming to the Philippines to participate in the People’s Caravan 2004. He will be joined by Dr. Ricarda A. Steinbrecher, a biologist and geneticist from England who has worked on gene regulation and gene expression since 1982. Both will join the series of forums, dialogues, rallies and demonstrations to be organized by RESIST across the country on 13-16 September as part of PC 2004.
David vs. Goliath
The personal experience of Schmeiser in fighting the Goliath of the agri-chemical industry will be highlighted in PC 2004 as a sterling case of a Northern farmer’s struggle against corporate control and to defend farmers’ rights to seeds. Monsanto filed a case against Schmeiser in 1997 for illegally planting its patented genetically engineered canola resistant to the broad-spectrum glyphosate herbicide, Round Up, also produced by the company.
In May 2004, by a narrow 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the earlier decisions of the lower courts that Schmeiser infringed on Monsanto’s patent while recognizing the fact that the company’s genetically engineered RR canola contaminated his field. The Court did not ask Percy to pay the damages demanded by Monsanto since it ruled that he did not profit from the patented seeds.
The canola farmer, who once served in the Canadian Parliament and as mayor of Saskatoon, contended that Monsanto contaminated his canola field with its genetically engineered seeds resulting to the loss of the heritage seed stocks that his family conserved for 50 years. He filed a countersuit against Monsanto, which remains pending in Canadian courts.

The Canadian Supreme Court decision on Schmeiser’s case raised widespread outrage as it undermines the rights of farmers worldwide and threatens global food security and biological diversity. The ruling implies that a farmer who is in possession of seeds or plants containing a patented gene, regardless of how the seeds were obtained, holds the burden of proving that s/he is not infringing on a company's monopoly proprietary right over the seeds.
As Percy stated during the Supreme Court proceeding: "We stood up to Monsanto because we felt if farmers ever lose their right to use their own seeds, we would be back laboring in a feudal system and corporations would have control over the food supply."
Gene Expert
Steinbrecher is the Director of Econexus, an international non-profit research organization that engages in collaborative work with researchers at universities in the UK, the US and Germany on issues of genetic engineering, toxicity and gene-ecology. She specializes in gene therapy including genetic engineering and later in the impacts of genetic engineering on health and the environment. Ricarda is a member of the British Society for Allergy, Nutritional and Environmental Medicine and has been advisor to many national and international NGOs, including the Pesticide Action Network-Asia Pacific, WWF, Women’s Environmental Network and the Five Year Freeze Campaign.
Over the last eight years, Dr. Steinbrecher has taken part in numerous government consultations regarding the safety, research and release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and the establishment of European and national laws and regulations. She has appeared as expert witness at many occasions to government bodies. Since 1995 she also acted as scientific advisor at the international negotiations for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity that concluded in 2000.
Forum on GE

As one of the highlights of the Philippine leg of PC 2004, RESIST is organizing a forum on genetic engineering at Miriam College in the morning of 14 September. Dr. Steinbrecher will speak on the impacts of genetic engineering on humans, while Schmeiser will share his struggles against Monsanto. Dr. Flerida Cariño of the UP Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology is also invited to share her views as a biosafety regulator being a member of the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP), and a farmer from KMP will share the Philippine experience in genetically engineered Bt corn and hybrid rice.##

Thursday, September 02, 2004

People’s Caravan 2004 Kicked Off!!

“Asserting Our Rights to Land and Food”

The Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PAN-AP) with hundreds of people’s organizations and support NGOs will take part in the People’s Caravan 2004 (PC2004) for People’s Food Sovereigntyon 1-30 September 2004 across 15 countries in Asia and Europe. This year’s People’s Caravan will bear the theme “Asserting Our Rights to Land and Food” and will feature activities such as simultaneous protests, mass education and mobilization. It will kick off in Malaysia and will culminate in Nepal with a public rally and the Conference on Alternatives to Globalization on 30 September.

PC 2004 is a follow-up to the first People’s Caravan held in November 2000, dubbed as People’s Caravan 2000: Land and Food Without Poisons. The Caravan in 2000 strengthened the linkages among groups working on land issues, pesticides and GMOs, and helped empower marginalized sectors, especially women. Four years later, the organizations that took part in the PC 2000 will come together to put forward important issues in land and food and bring these to various organizations and communities across Asia.

The Caravan aims to raise awareness among a broad range of sectors that include peasants, indigenous people, workers, fisherfolks, consumers, policy makers and the media on the important issues involved in food sovereignty, and to build a strong and broad network of advocates for people’s food sovereignty. It also aims to gather support from a broad range of sectors to push for the People’s Convention on Food Sovereignty that will be presented to governments and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at the World Food Summit + 10 in 2006. The Caravan will provide information and mobilize people towards policy advocacy at various levels on such issues as the World Trade Organization (WTO), genetic engineering (GE), pesticides and agrochemical transnational corporations, and towards the promotion and support to sustainable agriculture.

The Philippine leg
The Philippine leg of the Caravan will be held on 8-16 September. The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) serves as the Philippine Coordinator, with RESIST as the host organization. A series of forums, debates, dialogues and protests is scheduled in Metro Manila, Panay, Bicol, Nueva Ecija, Laguna, Cordillera, Cagayan Valley and Davao City.
PC 2004 in the Philippines will highlight the following issues:
1. Right to Land and Food. Main focus will be on the people’s rights to land and productive resources. The Caravan will advocate for a genuine land reform that gives access to and control over the land, seeds and water to poor peasants; pesticide-free and GM-free production for the present and future generations; support for the rights of peasant women; and strengthening of communities in the rural areas.

2. WTO Out of Food and Agriculture. The Caravan will campaign for measures to remove food and agriculture from the control of the WTO.

3. Eliminate Pesticides and Genetic Engineering. PC 2004 will demand for the stop of the commercialization of GMOs and pesticides, and will educate the general public on their dangers and threats to food, health and the environment.
4. Resist Agrochemical TNCs. The Caravan will continue to push the resistance against agrochemical corporations.

Let your voice be heard. Join the People’s Caravan 2004!!!

Philippine Hosts:
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) - Philippine Coordinator
Resistance and Solidarity against Agrochemical TNCs (RESIST)
AMGL (Alliance of Peasants in Central Luzon)
AMIHAN (National Federation of Peasant Women)
DANGGAYAN-Cagayan Valley
PAMANGGAS (United Peasants of Panay and Guimaras)
PUMALAG (Pagkakaisa at Ugnayan ng mga Magbubukid sa Laguna)
PAMALAKAYA (National Federations of Fisherfolk Organizations)
OFFERS (Organic Farming Field Experimental and Resource Station)
NNARA (National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates)
SENTRA (Center for Genuine Agrarian Reform)
Office of Rep. Rafael V, Mariano, ANAKPAWIS Party List
MIRIAM College

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


c/o Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas(KMP)
17-D Kasing-Kasing St.
Kamias Road, Quezon City
tel/fax (+63)-2-434-5467

Coordinating Body Members

  1. Samahan na Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Sambayanan (AGHAM) (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People
  2. Brotherhood of IRRI Workers Support Services Group (BISSIG)
  3. Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC)
  4. People’s Network for the Environment (KALIKASAN)
  5. Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas(KMP)(Peasant movement of the Philippines)
  6. Magsasaka at Syentista para sa Pagunlad ng Agrikultura(MASIPAG) (Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development)
  7. Pesticide Action Network ( PAN– Philippines)
  8. Philippines Society for the Protection of Animals (PSPA)
  9. Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE)
  10. Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya(SIBAT) (Wellspring of Science and Technology for the People)
  11. Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD)
  12. Institute for Occupational Health and Safety for Development (IOHSAD)
  13. Rural Missionaries of the Philippines(RMP)
  14. MIRIAM P.E.A.C.E

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


RESISTANCE AND SOLID SOLIDARITY AGAINST AGROCHEMICAL TNCs is a broad alliance of Philippine-based farmers' organizations, NGOs, scientists, heath workers/professionals, academes, and concerned individuals in opposition to Agrochemical TNCs and the evil menace of imperialist globalization. It promotes and advocates for alternative, natural and sustainable farming, and pushes for genuine agrarian reform as the foundation of food security and social justice.