Davao city gov’t destroys ‘Bt’ eggplants in UP farm

Subscribe Now December 19, 2010 at 09:09pm

The city government destroyed genetically modified eggplants being field-tested in a site at the University of the Philippines Mindanao in Barangay (village) Mintal here as people involved in the experimentation cried. The whole experimental site was completely shut down Saturday and about 1,500 Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, eggplants, about a half of them already bearing flowers and fruits, were destroyed, city officials said.

The destroyed plants were buried in a ditch.

The uprooting of the controversial crops followed the December 13 cease-and-desist order issued by Mayor Inday Sara Duterte against the experimentation, which was highly criticized for its alleged lack of transparency.

Barangay Bago Oshiro and Mintal, which surround the UP Mindanao campus, have issued resolutions calling for the immediate cessation of the field trials.

In the order, Duterte had warned UP that the city government would uproot the crops if UP did not voluntarily shut down the site.

Leo Avila, chief of the City Agriculture Office, said Duterte wanted the university to “start all over again and go through the right procedure.”

The Go Organic Mindanao, a coalition of groups pushing for sustainable and environmentally acceptable agriculture, said those behind the project did not hold public consultations before the field testing started.

The group has insisted that the field testing would expose the local varieties to contamination because it was not conducted within a confined trial.

But UP’s Dr. Eufemio Rasco, the man behind the field testing, said their experimentation had been observing the safeguards required to prevent contamination by putting up traps.

Critics of the project, however, say the traps were just cyclone wires.

Avila said it was best to stop experimentation due to a clash of ideas on what “strictly confined trial” meant.

The two-day operation was witnessed by Go Organic Mindanao member organizations, representatives of UP, Bureau of Plants Industry and the city government, through Avila.

Before this, officials of UP asked the city government for a five-day reprieve. The implementation of Duterte’s order was overwhelmed by intense emotion and heated exchanges between supporters of the experiment and members of the Go Organic Mindanao.

On Saturday, Rasco’s staff broke into tears when their field test site was shut down.

Source: inquirer.net

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