International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, Inc., et.al.

vs.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines), et.al.
(G.R. Nos. 209271, 209276, 209301 and 209430) 8 December 2015
FACTS:
In 1991, NCBP formulated the Philippine Biosafety Guidelines which governs the
regulation of the importation or introduction, movement and field release of potentially
hazardous biological materials in the Philippines. The same was followed by the Guidelines on
Planned Release of Genetically Manipulated Organisms (GMOs) and Potentially Harmful Exotic
Species (PHES).
International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, Inc. (ISAAA),
University of the Philippines Los Baños Foundation, Inc. (UPLBFI) and UP Mindanao
Foundation, Inc. (UPMFI) executed a Memorandum of Undertaking, in pursuance of a
collaborative research and development project on eggplants that are resistant to the fruit and
shoot borer.
Greenpeace, MASIPAG and individual respondents filed a petition for writ of kalikasan
and writ of continuing mandamus with prayer for the issuance of Temporary Environmental
Protection Order (TEPO) alleging that the Bt talong field trials (The crystal toxin genes from the
soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) were incorporated into the eggplant genome to produce
the protein CrylAc which is toxic to target insect pests.) violate their constitutional right to health
and a balanced ecology considering that the required Environmental Compliance Certificate
(ECC) under PD 1151 was not secured prior to the project implementation and that there is no
independent, peer-reviewed study on the safety of Bt talong for human consumption and the
environment. While the respondents contend that all environmental laws were complied with,
including public consultations in the affected communities and that the Bt talong project is not
covered by the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement Law
ISSUES:
Whether the law on environmental impact statement/assessment applies on
projects involving the introduction and propagation of GMOs in the country
RULING:
Yes. EO 514 mandates that concerned departments and agencies, most particularly
petitioners DENR-EMB, BPI and FPA, to make a determination whether the EIS system should
apply to the release of GMOs into the environment and issue joint guidelines on the matter.
All government agencies as well as private corporations, firms and entities who intend to
undertake activities or projects which will affect the quality of environment are required to
prepare a detailed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to undertaking such development
activity.
An environmentally critical project (ECP) is considered by the EMB as “likely to have
significant adverse impact that may be sensitive, irreversible and diverse” and which “include
activities that have significant environmental consequences.”
In this context, and given the overwhelming scientific attention worldwide on the
potential hazards of GMOs to human health and the environment, their release into the
environment through field testing would definitely fall under the category of ECP.