On the 60th anniversary of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan) together with various organizations under the Stop Golden Rice Network (SGRN) joins the call to shutdown IRRI for being a major contributor in the country’s failure to attain rice self-sufficiency.
“IRRI’s existence in the country has been six decades of lies as it failed to deliver on its promises of fighting poverty and hunger and improvement of farmers’ livelihood,” Amihan national chairperson Zenaida Soriano said.
“Through its Green Revolution program, IRRI not only destroyed diversity in our farmlands but also put farmers in bankruptcy. The hybrid seeds and GM crops it developed require intensive use of pesticides and fertilizers which resulted in higher cost of production and poisoning of our rice lands,” Soriano added.
The group said that IRRI has become an instrument of large agrochemical corporations to control and monopolize the seed industry using patent laws while our traditional rice varieties are being left out by the profit-driven technology it promotes.
Soriano also noted the impact of IRRI on peasant women saying, “Dahil sa kontrol ng mga malalaking korporasyon sa binhi, tinanggal din nito ang mahalagang papel ng kababaihang magbubukid sa pagbibinhi. Dahil sa nawawala na ang mga tradisyunal na binhi, ang mga dati ay matataas ay napalitan ng mga mababang klase ng palay kaya nahihirapan na rin lumahok ang mga mga buntis sa pag-aani.”
“Victims of IRRI’s rights abuses including the farmers who formerly owned the land of IRRI’s headquarters and its workers who suffered from various diseases due to exposure to harmful chemicals continue to seek justice as IRRI was granted immunity from suit thru Presidential Decree 1620,” Soriano noted.
“The risk of the country’s dependence on rice imports has been exposed now as we are battling COVID-19. This is exactly why we are against Rice Liberalization Law because a global crisis could throw the country into food crisis. What we need is a rice program that would lead the path to rice self-sufficiency and self-reliance. We need a people-centered rice research institute that will develop our traditional rice varieties to adapt to climate change. We need to promote institutions that will treat our farmers as partners not as passive recipients of technology. More importantly, we need a genuine agrarian reform program that would distribute lands for free to the landless farmers and provide necessary support services to increase our food production,” Soriano ended. ###