In an effort to protect the health of their people and their environment, farmers in Camarines Sur protested Thursday and destroyed experiment fields of genetically modified Golden Rice.
The 30 or so policemen involved were no match for the nearly 400 farmers who stormed the fields, uprooting the strain of rice to protest the ongoing experiment.
The farmers represented two Philippine anti-GMO groups: the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bikol (KMB) and the Sararong Inisyatiba nin Kahinwanmaan sa Wasakon ang Agrokemikals na Lasong-GMO (Sikwal-GMO).
Bert Autor, the coordinator of Sikwal-GMO and secretary-general of the KMB, said that it only took the farmers 15 minutes to finish the job.
"They [farmers] were not able to control their emotional outburst," Autor said in a statement, adding that the farmers were fired up by warnings from "concerned scientists and peasant leaders" about the "dangers" of the Golden Rice or GM rice to health and its threat to biodiversity.
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Department of Agriculture and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) say that development of Golden Rice will continue. They have said that the purpose of these experiments is to fight malnutrition and to reduce vitamin A deficiency.
The IRRI stated on their website that their field trials are part of the IRRI's work to see if Golden Rice can be a safe and effective way to reduce vitamin A deficiency in the Philippines. Dr. Bruce Tolentino, deputy director general of communications and partnerships for the IRRI, said, "Vitamin A deficiency is horrible and unnecessary, and we want to do our part to help to reduce it. Our Golden Rice research is part of our humanitarian work to reduce Vitamin A deficiency that mostly affects women and children."
"Earlier today one of our Golden Rice field trials located in the Bicol region of the Philippines was vandalized. We are really disappointed that our Golden Rice field trial was vandalized, but it is just one trial and we will continue our Golden Rice research to improve human nutrition," he added.