Beware of food that kills softly, Davao advocates warn

Oct. 18, 2007

DAVAO CITY — Safe food advocates have warned the public about buying vegetables, fruits and other food products in the market that leave the body with a killing-me-softly effect.

The warning came during a gathering of organic producers and environmentalists here Tuesday, in time for the global celebration of the World Food Day.

Betsy Ruizo-Gamela, executive director of the Don Bosco Foundation for Sustainable Development, said that the public markets around are huge repositories of food products, both raw and processed, that are laced with synthetic chemicals.

We have to be very careful because the vegetables and fruits that we find in the market might have been grown with chemicals that are still present no matter how we wash them well. Parents must ensure that the food they feed their children is not fortified with these deadly chemicals or they might also be killing their children gradually, Gamela said.

Generally, what the public is eating now are non-safe foods because they are chemical-based, added Gamela who also stressed that the public must be made aware of how the food that they bring home are produced and processed

She then challenged the Department of Agriculture and other concerned agencies to conduct strict monitoring on the extent of usage of chemicals by farmers, both large-scale and small-scale, and conduct periodic testing of the crops being brought to the market.

The call was also directed at consumer groups and the public themselves. Asked how to spot a chemically-enhanced vegetable and fruit, Gamela said: If the crop looks very good and sexy, then you have to suspect that was peppered with chemicals because, naturally, it was spared from insects and pests.

Betty More, another woman advocate for sustainable agriculture and environmental protection, said that based on their experience at the Kababayen-an Alang sa Teknolohiya nga Haum sa Kinaiyahan ug Kauswagan (Katakus) or Empowering Women Through Appropriate Technology in Harmony with the Environment, even backyard vegetable growers are aware that the vegetables they produce are not healthy and safe for consumption.

The farmers that weve worked with said they do not eat the crops they get from the gardens with chemicals. These farmers have two separate gardens and the one without chemicals is the one that they get their food fromthe other is where they get the crops that they sell to the market, said More, executive director of Katakus.

While hitting the governments prioritization of the mononculture form of agriculture like banana and pineappale plantation that is considered as the number one threat on sustainable agriculture, the groups also criticized policy of the government on genetically engineered crops.

Dr. Emerlito Boromeo, consultant of Greenpeace International and Third World Network, said that the government must reconsider its policy in the face of waves and unrelenting questions about its safety on people and the environment.

I cannot understand the obsession of the government on genetically modified cropsthis obsession will further increase our agricultural dependence on transnational agricultural companies. This obsession will only burry the farmers down into poverty instead of being alleviated from it, Boromeo said.

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