THE Court of Appeals (CA) has revoked the biosafety permits for the commercial propagation of Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant, citing their potential risks to the environment and the health of consumers.

In a 143-page decision issued on April 17, the appellate court also stopped the field testing and use, as well as imports of, genetically modified organisms (GMO) until all measures have been to ensure they are safe.

The appellate court’s Fourth Division granted the privilege of the Writ of Kalikasan to the Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad Agrikultura (MASIPAG), Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines (Greenpeace), and others, “citing the constitutional right to health and maintaining environmental integrity.”

It also issued a cease and desist order, halting the commercial propagation of the Bt Eggplant and Golden Rice.

“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,” according to the decision, written by Associate Justice Jennifer Joy C. Ong.

The appellate court found that the petitioners proved the adverse health and ecological effects of the Golden Rice and Bt eggplant projects are scientifically plausible but uncertain.

“Under the circumstances, applying the ‘precautionary principle,’ steps should be taken to avoid or diminish any possible adverse effect to health and ecology,” National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers President Ephraim B. Cortez said.

Mr. Cortez added that “once proof of compliance with safety, health, and legal requirements are submitted by concerned government agencies, the respondents may resume activities relative to the commercial propagation of Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant.”

“The conflicting scientific views (are) compounded by the lack of administrative monitoring  for which the regulators were unable to determine whether or not there were health and safety issues during the process,” he added.

The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, had granted the petitioners the Writ of Kalikasan, referring the case to the appellate court for “acceptance of the following returns on the Writ of Kalikasan, and for hearing reception of evidence, and rendition of judgment.”

MASIPAG, a coalition of farmers and scientists, requested a temporary environmental protection order against the DA to halt the commercial cultivation of Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant until evidence of safety and compliance with legal requirements is provided.

A Writ of Kalikasan is a legal recourse aimed at safeguarding individuals from environmental harm that jeopardizes life, health, or property across two or more municipalities. — Chloe Mari A. Hufana