Today we remember the ninth year of the historic golden rice uprooting.

On August 8, 2013, around 400 farmers and consumers uprooted golden rice from an experimental farm operated secretly by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and PhilRice in Camarines Sur, Bicol. An expression of determined opposition, the action grabbed broad and international attention and postponed golden rice commercialization originally slated in 2016.

Today, the golden rice uprooting continues to inspire the ardent and enduring struggle against the golden rice scam.

Bill Gates, Syngenta, and other foreign big capitalists behind the failed Green Revolution are the same driving force behind golden rice. Repeating its theme of “modernizing agriculture,” they market golden rice as a “high-tech solution against Vitamin A deficiency.”

In reality, golden rice is an unnecessary and unwanted corporate experiment that will endanger Filipino farmers, consumers (especially children), and the environment. Its advancement only serves the profit-making interests of big agrochemical transnational corporations (TNCs) intending to sell the chemical inputs required for golden rice to grow.

In the first place, golden rice is not even a solution to Vitamin A deficiency. It contains too little Vitamin A, one has to consume 3.75 kilos of golden rice to receive an adequate amount per day.

There is more Vitamin A content in native, already prevalent, and cheaper crops such as kamote, carrots, moringa (malunggay), squash, and tomatoes. If the proponents of golden rice are serious about addressing Vitamin A deficiency, they could simply support local small farmers planting kamote and other crops.

Instead, they stubbornly push for this billions-worth and decades-long foreign venture. Golden rice is a waste of much-need resources and time. The dismissal of local, traditional, and organic practices and knowledge is an affront to our rich history and culture in farming. Science is not undertaken exclusively by researchers in labs; there is as much science in farmers’ traditional practices in fields.

The peddlers of golden rice are ultimately putting Filipino farmers, consumers, soil, biology, and culture at grave risk, as offerings at the altar of profit.

Golden rice must be exposed for what it is – a scam. We must oppose turning Filipino farmers and rice eaters into guinea pigs for foreign interests.

We challenge Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as president and concurrent agriculture secretary to take a decisive stand against golden rice. We call upon the urgent cancellation of golden rice’s hastily approved permits.

While his dictator father paved the way for the domination of foreign agrochemical TNCs and the prevalence of imported chemical-dependent agriculture through Masagana 99, Marcos Jr. should be free to think on his own. Especially today when we hold the undeniable lessons of the past.

Nevertheless, we remain steadfast in defending and advancing the farmers’ rights to seed and land, and the consumers’ rights to safe food.

Stop golden rice now!

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