The famous Philippine Rice Terraces in Ifugao province, a UNESCO Living Cultural Heritage site, have been declared a genetically-modified organism (GMO)-Free zone, in a historic announcement which was celebrated in a public ceremony.
The Governor of Ifuago Teodoro Baguilat, and the local Mayor, Lino Madchiw enacted the declaration, with the support of Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Miss Earth Foundation.
‘The Ifugao Rice Terraces is a symbol of how the Philippines is a center of origin and biodiversity of rice, and exemplifies how rice, our most important food crop, is a unique and inherent part of our culture,’ said Daniel Ocampo of Greenpeace.
‘This rich rice heritage, which the declaration today serves to protect, should be a source of pride for us Filipinos. GMO crops compromise this rice heritage: genetic engineering of food crops poses risks to the environment, human health, farmers’ livelihoods and consumers’ choice and should therefore be rejected,’ said Ocampo.
The Ifugao Rice Terraces has existed for more than 3000 years and covers around 10,360 square kilometers. In was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995 as “a living cultural landscape of great beauty that exemplifies the perfect interweaving of natural and cultural values in a sustainable manner.”
Ifugaos have traditionally planted rice in the terraces without the use of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides and have traded seeds freely, among them the famous Tinawon organic rice.