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January 11, 2017 01:20 AM

By: Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Negros Occidental Board Member Alain Gatuslao said on Jan. 10, 2017 that he is planning to conduct an investigation into the entry of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) into the country amid concerns raised by sugar industry stakeholders.

"We will check possible violation of ordinance banning the entry of genetically modified organisms. If allowed by the members of the committee on laws, we can investigate in aid of legislation," Gatuslao said.

Gatuslao, chair of the committee on laws, said he considers the issue "a serious matter."

"It is more than just economic unfairness but more on the health risks," he said, adding that "local government units have the power to investigate this matter."

Earlier, sugar planters groups issued statements expressing their concerns over the importation of HFCS by beverage and food producers in the country.

Francis de la Rama, president of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Inc. (Confed) said the sugar industry loses more or less P10.5 billion "which will result into an economic disaster if not addressed."

“Our research shows that beverage companies made a shift of utilizing higher volumes of artificial sweeteners (mostly HFCS) in the formulation of their beverage products at the expense of the domestically produced sugar. This high fructose corn syrup is a 100 percent imported product and is a sweetener,” De la Rama added.

Confed urged the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to execute its mandate in managing and regulating the supply of sweeteners in the country.

The Asociacion de Agricultores de la Carlota y Pontevedra Inc. called for the enforcement of provincial ordinance banning products containing genetically modified organisms from entering Negros Occidental.

Beverage companies use imported HFCS as a substitute for sugar as sweetener for their products, Cuenca said.

Meanwhile, environment group Green Alert Negros reiterated its stand on the risks posed by HFCS.

In a statement, GAN coordinator Rj Rojo said “all forms of GMOs should be banned in Negros Occidental as stated in Section 3 of Provincial Ordinance No. 7-2007 which explicitly prohibits the entry, experimentation, field testing, and other purposes related to GMOS.”

“The provincial government should not allow proliferation of such products since it’s a gross violation to the ordinance and an insult to the landmark law,” Rojo added.

He added that “GMOS will also have a big impact on local economy and will affect local farmers and industries.”

 

He called on Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. to continue his commitment against GMOS like what he did in 2015 wherein he stressed that “GMO is banned from Negros. We’re an organic island.”