>LOS BAÑOS, Laguna, Philippines – Greenpeace activists who are opposing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are facing legal actions for destroying experimental GM eggplants at a research site of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) last Thursday.
“Greenpeace violated the rules and the university, as an institution, has to deal legally with their actions,” the UPLB said in a statement attributed to Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco.
“The fact that Greenpeace committed violations inside the university, which is an affront to its academic freedom, they will have to be dealt with accordingly,” Vice Chancellor Virginia Cardenas said.
Charges which the environmental activists may face include trespassing, conspiracy, malicious mischief, and violation of biosafety protocols.
UPLB officials led by Velasco and Cardenas confronted the activists when they were hauled to the university police station after they had uprooted the experimental eggplants at the research site in nearby Bay town.
Records show that the Greenpeace-led group, which included two Indian nationals and local and foreign journalists, arrived at the “off-limits,” fenced UPLB research farm at around 6:30 a.m. last Thursday.
The UPLB said the activists, led by a certain Danilo Ocampo, destroyed the research site’s steel gate with a bolt cutter, entered the area, and uprooted more than a hundred non-GM, non-transgenic eggplants, which served as check varieties and pollen traps.
“Luckily, only two Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) eggplants were uprooted,” reported the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) headed by Dr. Emil Javier, former UP president and UPLB chancellor.
NAST, the country’s highest science and technology advisory and recognition body, condemned the trespassing, destruction of government property, violation of academic freedom of the UPLB and interference in the legitimate activities of the science community. – By Rudy A. Fernandez