Separate anti-GMO edict for food production eyed

BACOLOD City – The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental is eyeing the passage of a separate ordinance on the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) on food production.

Provincial Board member Alain Gatuslao, committee on laws, rules and ordinances chair, said that instead of amending the Anti-GMO, the provincial board will instead pass a separate law with focus on food production.

Gatuslao pushed for the withdrawal of the proposed amendments saying that the existing ordinance regulates living GMOs, whether plants or animals.

The ordinance passed in 2007 has provisions to expand its applications on food production or non-living GMOs.

But Gatuslao pointed out that the revisions, particularly the expansion of its coverage, might “destroy” the whole ordinance, thus, it is better to pass a separate anti-GMO regulation for food production.

“The existing one will become a standalone anti-GMO ordinance covering plants and animals,” he said.

He added that they will also create separate implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) for the two complementing ordinances.

Under the new ordinance, the province will create an anti-GMO “watchlist items” used in food production, like the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) for beverages and soft drinks.

The province will ask food and beverage companies to submit certifications that the corn sugar they are using does not contain any GMO.

“It may, then, be used by complainants in filing charges against companies found to have GMOs in their products,” Gatuslao added.

The existing Anti-GMO Ordinance, meanwhile, would still need some amendments.

Aside from the task force and monitoring team, the ordinance also has other components such as the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist and Provincial Veterinary Office, which were not utilized, Gatuslao said.

“We will work for the improvement of the existing ordinance, which has been a dormant law for long years, alongside the creation of a separate one,” he added.

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