SAN AGUSTIN, PILI, CAMARINES
SUR --Over 300 members of
militant groups stormed into the compound of Department of Agriculture
regional office here and uprooted and trampled and vandalized
the Golden rice which were already in their booting stage planted
in an experimental lot here. The police and barangay tanod of
about 25 who were securing the site were outnumbered and caught
by surprise when the agitated rallyists forcibly opened the gate
and climbed over the fence. In just 15 minutes the rallyists
ravaged the ricefield.
DA Bicol regional executive director
Eng. Abelardo R. Bragas and the members of the research and technical
team strongly condemned the violent and mischievous assault of
the rallyists which resulted to damage of government properties,
loss of valuable data and research investment. He said the agency
may take legal action against the perpetrators.
Golden Rice is a new type of rice
which contains beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. Leading
nutrition and agricultural research organizations are working
together to evaluate Golden Rice as a potential new way to reduce
Vitamin A deficiency. Part of this evaluation is the conduct
of multi-location field trails to ensure that Golden rice is
effective and safe, and can be planted, grown and harvested just
like other popular rice varieties.
The field trials were duly permitted
by the Department of Agriculture Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI),
the national regulatory authority in the Philippines for biotechnology
research and development, after establishing that the trials
will pose no significant risks to human health and environment.
Series of meeting and dialogues
with local leaders and community representatives were conducted
prior to the conduct of the trials. Implementation of the trials
was being closely monitored by the Institutional Biosafety Committee
(IBC) composed of researchers and experts from the DA, CBSUA,
barangay captain, municipal council and religious group.
At the time of the incident, DA
RFO 5 officials and members of the research and technical team
of the Golden Rice Project were gathered at the DA main building
awaiting the arrival of the rallyists, ready to have dialogue
with them. The team had been alerted that a rally will be held
that day and as in the previous rallies before, leaders of the
protesting groups are invited for a dialogue.
The surprise attack was staged by the group led by Wilfredo Marbella, deputy secretary of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Bert Auter, secretary general of KMP Bicol. Also identified were members of Anakpawis Partylist and MASIPAG.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala in a television interview asked those opposing the trial to let the trials be completed first.
Dir. Bruce Tolentino (in polo) explains to the media that despite what happened , Golden Rice research will continue as it is the commitment of their institution and the other partner agencies, to fight malnutrition. With him were Dr. Tony Alfonso, project director of Golden Rice and concurrently national coordinator of Biotechnology Program of the DA and DA Bicol regional executive Director. Eng. Abelardo R. Bragas. (DA RAFID