Farmers’ groups have urged the Department of Agriculture to abandon plans to field-test GMOs in ten sites around the Philippines, over concerns about food security and ultimately rising production costs.

In an interview with Business World, Manny Yap, executive director of the Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) umbrella organisation of farmers’ groups, explained that the testing of Bt corn should stop immediately.

“Bt corn is developed to resist a particular pest [the Asiatic corn borer]. But that kind of approach to controlling the pest problem is just a temporal solution.

“It will even create another problem because the level of toxin in every plant will increase in the long run,” he added.

GMO-advocates argue that Bt corn will slash production costs by eliminating the need for traditional pesticide sprays, but farmers’ groups content that the price of the GM seed will increase in the long term.

The call to abandon the trials came when Agriculture Secretary Leonardo Q. Montemayor issued a statement that he would review the draft administrative order (AO) prepared by previous Agriculture Secretary Edgardo J Angara on commercial food production using biotechnology.

Yap stressed: “Commerciality has always been the target of those companies undertaking the field testing.

“We had discussions with Sec. Montemayor last February about the field testing, but nothing happened,” he said.

“What actually happened is that the field testing is now multi-locational whereas before it was confined in one area.”