June 14, 2024

The Court of Appeals has directed the Philippine Rice Research Institute and the University of the Philippines Los Baños to cease and desist from commercially propagating, field testing, and conducting activities related to Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant, respectively, citing the constitutional right to health and maintaining environmental integrity.

The appellate court granted the privilege of the Writ of Kalikasan to the Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad Agrikultura, Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines and other petitioners, and revoked the biosafety permits for commercial propagation of Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant.

“Considering the unmistakable importance of the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology, especially in these times, we remind the government of its eminent duty to assiduously protect said right,” read the 143-page decision dated April 17.

The Writ of Kalikasan provides protection of one’s constitutional right to a healthy environment.

Owing to the lack of “full scientific certainty” on the effects – good or bad – of Bt Eggplant and Golden Rice, the precautionary principle calls for actions to be taken to “avoid or diminish the threats of serious and irreversible damage to the environment,” it said.

It directed the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health, and the Bureau of Plant Industry to strengthen risk assessment procedures and promulgate mechanisms for the monitoring of all activities conducted under the rules governing applications involving genetically modified organisms.

The court added all applications for contained use, field testing, direct use as food or feed, or processing, commercial propagation, and importation of GMOs are enjoined until the government has addressed all issues mandated in accordance with the decision.

The CA also granted the Writ of Continuing Mandamus, which ordered the concerned respondents-government agencies to submit to the CA the strengthened risk assessment procedures and concrete mechanisms to monitor all activities conducted under the Joint Department Circular 1-2016 and 1-2021.

Until the deficiencies noted in the decision are addressed by the concerned government agencies, “any application for contained use, field testing, direct use as food or feed, or processing, commercial propagation, and importation of all GMOs are enjoined,” the CA said. – PNA