SC orders stop to commercial release of genetically modified rice, eggplant products

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 19) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a writ of kalikasan in a case seeking to stop the commercial release of genetically modified rice and eggplant products.

Petitioners, led by farmers’ group Magasasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-Unlad ng Agrikultura, claimed that Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant are genetically modified organisms, which need further study on its safety.

According to petitioners, Golden Rice is a modified rice injected with maize or corn and a gene from bacteria found in soil, which allows the plant to biosynthesize beta-carotene — a source of Vitamin A — in the edible parts of rice.

Meanwhile, the petitioners said the Bt Eggplant was designed to produce its own toxin to kill fruit and shoot borer, a common pest that consumes and damages eggplants.

The Supreme Court required the Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Plant Industry, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health, Philippine Rice Research Institute and the University of the Philippines – Los Baños to file a verified return within 10 days from service of the writ.

A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy to protect one's right to a balanced and healthy ecology when it is violated or threatened.

In October 2022, the petitioners also sought the issuance of a Temporary Environmental Protection Order directing the Agriculture department to do the following:

(a) Refrain from commercially propagating Golden Rice and issuing biosafety permits for commercial propagation of Bt Eggplant.

(b) Cease and desist from commercially propagating Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant until such time that proof of safety and compliance with legal requirements is shown.

(c) Declare all biosafety permits for Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant null and void.

(d) Perform independent risks and impact assessments, obtain the prior and informed consent of farmers and indigenous peoples, and implement liability mechanisms in case of damage, as required by law.

The Supreme Court Public Information Office said it will upload a copy of the ruling once it receives a copy from the En Banc Office of the Clerk of Court.