PETALING JAYA: A group of farmers and non-government organisations are objecting to Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute's (Mardi) application to plant the genetically-modified (GM) rice MR219 on a test field.
A total of 54 community and farmer organisations as well as NGOs jointly submitted a memorandum of protest to the National Biosafety Board asking it to reject Mardi's application to carry out the field test.
They also staged a protest at the proposed field test site near Markas Pida 3 Semut Gatal in Tambun Tulang in Perlis on Monday (July 22).
Malaysia Food Security and Sovereignty Forum coordinator Nurfitri Amir Muhammad claimed that planting GM rice – even on a small plot for testing purposes – had far-reaching implications on the environment and public health, apart from posing a threat to the plant gene pool.
"The GM rice has been genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, as well as to rice diseases caused by bacteria and fungi," he said.
"If glyphosate-tolerant crops are approved for commercial cultivation, it (glyphosate) will likely be ineffective over the long term.
"The United States has seen GM crops becoming increasingly tolerant to various herbicides, thus increasing the use of alternative herbicides.
"This exemplifies the short-term effectiveness of the herbicide-tolerant crop strategy for weed control, and forewarns a likely increase in chemical use that would result from any commercialisation of glyphosate-tolerant GM rice in Malaysia," he said.
The groups endorsed a memorandum objecting to field trial of GM rice.
Among those who had endorsed the memoradum are Persatuan Usahawan Tani Cinta Alam Kelantan, Koperasi Petani Tambatuon, Persatuan Usahawan Organik Kelantan, Persatuan pengusaha padi wangi Kelantan, Pertubuhan Alam Sekitar Sejahtera Malaysia, Persatuan Penanam Padi Daerah Rompin, Persatuan Iban Marudi, Baram Sarawak, Badan Bertindak Pesawah and Padi Rescue.
Others include Persatuan Pengguna Pulau Pinang, Sahabat Alam Malaysia, IDRIS Association, Persatuan Agroekologi Malaysia SRI-Mas, Pertubuhan Persaudaraan Pesawah Malaysia, Persatuan Pendidikan Dan Kebajikan Jaringan Nelayan Pantai Malaysia.
WWF Malaysia as well as Pesticide Action Network, Asia and the Pacific had also endorsed the memorandum.