Last August 8, the Golden Rice field trial in Pili, Camarines Sur was destroyed.  According to a statement released by the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office 5 (DA-RFO 5), members of militant groups entered the DA compound and “…deliberately uprooted and trampled the rice plants in the experimental plots”. This happened despite an invitation to a dialogue at the DA by members and partners of the Golden Rice project.

We are thankful that no one was badly hurt. We sympathize, firstly, with the farmers who are being used as their front and insinuated as culprits of the uprooting–real farmers care for their crops and will not do that! We also commiserate with the law enforcement officers and some DA and barangay officials, who were around to secure the place and who exercised maximum tolerance, yet were harassed, threatened, and hurled with invectives by these groups.

Most importantly, we feel sorry for the Filipino children and pregnant women, who suffer from vitamin A deficiency, because the field trial vandalism further delayed efforts to possibly help ease their condition.

Vitamin A deficiency can damage our immune system, and may result in blindness, or even death, if left untreated. Despite numerous government efforts to address it, vitamin A deficiency remains a public health problem in the country.

We believe in the potential of Golden Rice, a new type of rice that contains beta carotene, a source of vitamin A; and we trust and abide by the government regulatory system that approves the conduct of these trials to ensure that risk, if present, is properly identified and addressed.

Thus, even with this unfortunate incident, PhilRice, along with IRRI and other leading nutrition and agricultural research organizations, will continue to do its part in evaluating the potential of Golden Rice to help solve the problem of vitamin A deficiency. And I am glad to mention that Secretary Alcala stated in a TV interview in Aug. 9 that he wants to see the Golden Rice experiment completed.

Data and materials from field trials are needed to have sufficient evidence that Golden Rice is safe and effective in reducing vitamin A deficiency.

Though there may be sectors that may not currently see our work as important, we hope that this will not be an excuse to ignore the rule of law; and that when all data have been gathered and it is proven to be safe and effective, we will all be together in promoting Golden Rice.

Eufemio T. Rasco Jr.
Executive Director and
Project Proponent, Golden Rice

GR Support Resolutions:
Batac City Council Board Resolution for GR MLT
Camarines Sur Provincial Board Resolution for GR MLT
GR MLT Resolution Brgy_Caraycayon_Tigaon_CamSur
GR MLT Resolution Municipal_Tigaon_CamSur
GR MLT Resolution Province_Camarines_Sur
Ilocos Norte Board Resolution
San Mateo Resolution
Science City of Munoz City Council Resolution for GR MLT
Tabug (Batac City) Barangay Council Resolution for GR MLT
Maligaya_Science City of Munoz_GR MLT
Municipal Council Board Resolution_San Mateo Isabela
Nueva Ecija Provincial Board Resolution for GR MLT
Pili Mayor San Luis Statement of support
Pili Municipal Council Resolution for GR MLT
San Agustin (Pili) Barangay Council Resolution for GR MLT

 

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute