Philippine court to decide on genetically modified eggplant tests
The Philippine Supreme Court is expected to decide shortly whether to accept a demand from the environmental group Greenpeace to stop the field testing of genetically-modified (GM) eggplant, on the grounds that the potential impact on other eggplant varieties has not been adequately assessed.
Greenpeace has asked the court to issue a cease and desist order to stop the field testing of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) eggplant, and thus prevent what it describes as the contamination of traditional eggplant varieties. But proponents of biotechnology are worried that such a move could cast a cloud over the country's ambitious plans to produce and market more GM crops.
The tests, conducted by the University of the Philippines Los Banos, are due to be carried out on a variety of Bt eggplant that has been genetically modified to resist infestations of the fruit and shoot borer, a major pest that can lay to waste as much as 70 per cent of the annual eggplant crop.
At present, many farmers rely on chemical pesticides to prevent infestation, spraying many times per growing season, and supporters of the new variety argue that it could make this unnecessary.
The Philippines is the only country in Asia to have approved the commercial planting of GM crops for food. The first of such crops is a variety of maize that is now planted in nearly 700,000 hectares, more than double the area planted to the crop in 2007.