By Andrea Lim
In their opposition stand against genetically-modified (GM) food products, Greenpeace has shown their support towards multinational companies in the agriculture business.
The point of having GM crops, as in the case of Bt corn and Bt eggplant, is to reduce the use of pesticides and other chemicals used in agriculture by making the plant resistant to pests through alterations in its genetic makeup.
The environment group maintains a pro-farmer, pro-environment stance and yet fuels false notions in the Philippines and elsewhere by labeling GM food, or genetically modified food, as a “threat to national security and nutrition.”
The majority of the their claim is based on perceived human health risks, despite that there already exists a broad scientific consensus stating that food derived from GM crops causes no greater risk than those of conventional food.
According to healthresearchfunding.org, the modifications in the crops allow them to become resistant to drought and infestations. GM food also has a better overall quality and taste compared to that of conventional food, and it contains more nutrition benefits.
GM technology has also proven to have drastically cut the use of pesticides and increased profits in the agriculture sector. Independent studies in North America have shown an almost 50% reduction of herbicide use on commercially grown herbicide-tolerant crops.
In the Philippines, Greenpeace has gone as far as convincing farmers to destroy GM crops, such as the ‘Golden Rice’ planted in Pili, Camarines Sur and the experimental eggplant farm in Bay, Laguna, in order to serve the interests of mega corporations that make pesticides.
GM crops are able to substantially cut pesticide use, cut production cost for farmers, reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals, and benefit consumers through lower prices while protecting their health and enhancing environmental protection.
Thus, the implication is clear – Greenpeace makes a show of rejecting government and corporate money, while maintaining a relationship with World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), that which is closely linked to global companies like Coca-Cola and has a history of receiving cheques from Shell Oil.
Even in decades back, Greenpeace made an arrangement with the WWF who agreed to finance their campaign to “save the whales” in exchange for Greenpeace’s procurement of the original Rainbow Warrior, a diesel-powered electric ship built in the UK.
Genetic modification is like any other new technology that should be viewed in light of development that has already gone on before. Man has been manipulating genetics for thousands of years.
Wheat, for example, is a hybrid of different species that is only maintained artificially. Traditional (that is, non-GM) wheat is unable to exist in the wild because it is incapable of seed dispersal.
Plant breeders have even influenced its genetics with chromosomes from several other species. GM technology allows genes to be added more precisely and effects to be studied more carefully.
Senator Loren Legarda today stressed on the importance of promoting green skills and green jobs, stating that it would provide employment opportunities and boost climate change adaptation efforts in the country.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Environment and Natural Resources and on Climate Change, noted that there are already 3.5 million green jobs worldwide and the Philippines has the potential to generate thousands of green jobs, especially if there are more renewable energy investments in the country.
“We take note of the government’s continuing efforts to generate more jobs for our growing population. But despite the various programs to address unemployment, we still need to do more. We can encourage our citizens to train in green skills such as management in agriculture, forestry, horticulture, environmental information technology and other careers that contribute to environmental preservation,” she explained.
“We should also strengthen efforts to encourage more renewable energy investments in the country because this industry can provide thousands of jobs for our people. According to Greenpeace, a geothermal company in the country was able to employ 2,582 individuals for a 1,189-MW plant and that a 10-megawatt solar power plant can provide jobs for 1,000 people for six months during the period of construction and 100 permanent positions for its operation and maintenance,” she added.
The Senator, citing additional data from Greenpeace, said that the availability of green jobs in other nations and regions is rapidly increasing. In Europe, there are already about 650,000 green jobs created; more than 175,000 are employed in the United States’ wind and solar industries; and China has an estimated one million green jobs.
“In generating green jobs, we also need to actively promote the importance of renewable energy projects and encourage Filipinos to consider employment in green industries which provide healthier working environment,” said Legarda.
“Our path should be towards sustainable and resilient development where progress is measured not only through material wealth, but also and more importantly, through the happiness, safety and well-being of our citizens,” Legarda concluded.
Ministers from some of the world’s largest fishing powers, including the EU, the US, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines recently gathered at a high-level international conference in Greece, where they reiterated commitments to reduce global fishing capacity and to ensure accurate information on fishing is readily available, including through the creation of a global record of vessels . The conference was organized in Thessaloniki by the European Commission under the auspices of the Greek presidency of the European Union. The conference declaration, which also aims at improving data collection to assess stocks and fishing capacity, was signed by several countries including the EU, the United States, Japan, Colombia and Indonesia.
However, Greenpeace warned that it is high time for governments to turn words into effective action to ensure a healthy future for fisheries and fishermen around the world. Similar commitments have been made already years ago, but have not necessarily tuned into effective action. In June 1999, the FAO adopted the International Plan of Action (IPOA) for the Management of Fishing Capacity, whose immediate objective was for “States and regional fisheries organizations, to achieve world-wide preferably by 2003, but not later than 2005, an efficient, equitable and transparent management of fishing capacity”. A number of other global instruments and conferences have emphasized the same call, but global fishing capacity has continued to expand regardless.
Excessive fishing capacity drives overfishing and illegal fishing, displaces coastalcommunities, causing environmental harm and making fishing fleets economically unviable. The EU fishing fleet, for example, is able to catch two to three times more fish than is sustainable in most fisheries.
“Across Southeast Asia, many fishing grounds are already either depleted or currently being overfished. The capacity of the fishing fleets— specifically the larger commercial vessels— are decimating the marine resources to the detriment of coastal communities,” said Mark Dia, Regional Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
“Governments in Southeast Asia should take the lead in this global effort to restore the health of our seas by managing the ability of their own fleets to fish, in line with the state of fish stocks. These countries must also ensure that they develop their fishing capacity in a way that is sustainable, benefit their coastal communities and is based on low-impact gears and best available practices,” added Dia.Greenpeace wants the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia to start by scrapping the largest and most destructive industrial fishing vessels, initiating a shift towards small-scale low-impact fishing, which is more environmentally sustainable and creates jobs to supports local communities.
The Philippines has had their exemption to commercial purse seine tuna fishing access in the high seas pockets in the Pacific extended again at the last Western and CentralPacific Commission Meeting in Australia last December.
“The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has admitted that we have nearly finished up all the tuna in our waters and this is the reason why we now need to send the commercial fleets all the way to the Pacific high seas,” added Dia. “If we only took care of our own resources and fishing grounds, then there will be more than enough fish to feed our people. We must reverse the current trend of overfishing in the Philippines and around the world. Better management of fishing capacity is critical and long overdue.”
For more information:Mark Dia, Regional Oceans Campaigner, +63917- 8430549, firstname.lastname@example.org. Virginia Llorin, Media Campaiger, +63917-8228793, email@example.com