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Bacolod City, PhilippinesWednesday, July 15, 2009
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‘No technical, legal basis
for anti-GMO ordinance’

A coordinator of the Provincial Coastal Fisheries Resources Management, which is under the Office of the Provincial Agriculture, claimed in a position paper he submitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan during a committee hearing of the GMO ordinance in 2007 that he believes there is “lack of technical and insufficient legal basis” for the anti-GMO ordinance.

This, Ruel Almoneda said, is because the national government retains the authority to regulate with regard to animal and plant quarantine.

He also said in his position paper that, as stipulated in the provisions of Local Government Code, the powers of the LGU are limited to regulating and it cannot exercise the power to ban unless expressly granted permission to do so by the national government agency concerned.

While the intention of the proposed ordinance is very laudable, he said, the Negros Occidental SP cannot enact such ordinance banning the entry, importation and introduction of genetically-modified plants and animals within the jurisdiction of the province for lack of technical and legal basis.

Vice Governor Emilio Yulo III, however, said the approved GMO ordinance remains in effect, unless otherwise, modified or amended.

The Diocese of Bacolod, however, in a statement it issued, commended the efforts of the SP to uphold the GMO ordinance, despite calls for a moratorium from some sectors.

The statement signed by priests assigned at the Diocese of Bacolod, reiterated their appeal to SP members to continue its implementation “without fear and favor”   .

“We know the path to good governance is rife with difficulty and pressures from all sectors, but we trust and pray that you hold steadfast to your principles and commitment in ensuring the good of the many,” the priests said.

Board Member Enrique Miguel Lacson, chairperson of the SP Committee on Food Security, called for the continued support of the GMO ordinance, pending its review.

Almoneda yesterday suggested the change of “banning of GMO entry into the province” to regulating, saying plant and animal quarantine services are not among the functions devolved to local government units, which presently performed by the Department of Agriculture, assisted only by LGUs.

At present, he said, there are no regulatory functions on plant and animal quarantine being exercised by LGUs, much more the power to impose regulations over it.

The Negros Organic Agriculture Movement and its allied groups called on the SP and Zayco to reject the calls for amendment of the ordinance.

Leaders of the livestock and poultry associations had earlier called on Zayco and the SP members to expedite their decision on the GMO ordinance, claiming they have already incurred an add-on production cost of P162 million from April to June.*GPB



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