Bohol Governor Aris Aumentado has issued an executive order to recall all distributed genetically modified organism (GMO) corn in the province and reactivate the GMO monitoring committee.

The order, which was issued on June 6, 2023, came after reports of the planting and distribution of GMO corn in Bohol in violation of the provincial ordinance that prohibits the use and planting of GMOs in the province.

The ordinance, which was enacted in 2003, states that no person shall conduct any laboratory or field testing or any activity whatsoever for the propagation of or experimentation related to GMOs of any plant, animal or microorganism in any area within the territorial jurisdiction of Bohol.

The ordinance also imposes a fine of not more than five thousand pesos or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court for any violation of the ordinance. Juridical entities involved shall also be subject to closure.

According to the executive order, a DA-7 representative verbally acknowledged the violation of the anti-GMO ordinance during the El NiƱo Task Force meeting held on May 12, 2023.

On May 18, 2023, a multi-sectoral meeting was convened by Aumentado to investigate the extent of the violation and discuss immediate actions to protect the welfare of the citizens and preserve the integrity of the local biosystems and ecology.

Gov. Aumentado mandates the immediate cessation of GMO distribution by all government offices, agencies and private individuals or entities, distribution channels and stakeholders involved in the sale, transfer or distribution of GMO corn in Bohol.

Aumentado also orders the immediate retrieval and disposal of GMO corn seeds currently in the province through a comprehensive recall procedure.

The governor also reactivates the GMO monitoring committee created under the provincial ordinance to oversee the implementation of the order, monitor the progress of the retrieval and disposal, and take all necessary legal steps to safeguard the interest of the people to maintain an ecologically balanced province.

Aumentado also directs the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) together with the Multi-Sectoral GMO Monitoring Committee to carry out the order.

The executive order also requires copies of the order to be furnished to the Department of Agriculture National Corn Program Office, Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office 7, Department of Agriculture- Provincial Agricultural Coordinating Office (DA-PATCO) – Bohol, all City and Municipal Agriculture Officers (C/MAO), City/Municipal Agriculturists and Corn Technicians.

The executive order takes effect immediately.

According to research studies, some of the benefits of GMO foods include:

  • They may have increased attractiveness, flavor, shelf life, and nutritional value for consumers.
  • They may have greater resistance to viruses, insects, herbicides, and harsh climates, which can reduce the need for pesticides and increase food security.
  • They may have higher yields and lower costs for farmers and consumers.
  • They may be used in medicine to produce life-saving vaccines, insulin, and treatments for diseases.

However, there are also some potential disadvantages and risks of GMO foods, such as allergic reactions, environmental impacts, ethical issues, and unknown long-term effects.

The pros and cons of GMO foods should be carefully weighed before making a decision, food experts said.