PHILIPPINES APPROVES PRO-GMO RULE
On March 7, 2016, the Philippines approved a set of rules on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which came as a relief to farmers and importers but to the dismay of environmental activists. The rules will now be forwarded to the Department of Agriculture with an expectation that they will take effect by April 2016, and are intended to improve transparency in the approval process for GMO permits. Prompted by a Greenpeace petition, the Philippines Supreme Court stopped the issuance of permits for importing or planting GMOs in December 2015, putting the Philippines' one million corn farmers and buyers of GMO soybean meal into a period of limbo. Greenpeace has responded to the new rule by stating that it plans to take further action against the new GMO guidelines. Proponents of the new rule were relieved but worried that it could mean a longer waiting period to receive permission to ship GMO crops. The new rule could mean that importers may need a biosafety permit, in addition to the old regulations’ requirement for sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance. Philippines is seen as a trailblazer for GMOs and was the first country in Asia to approve GMO commercial cultivation in 2002. For the full story, see http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-gmo-idUKKCN0W90MK.