Negros Occidental Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson prefers Congress to be the proper venue for a hearing, in aid of legislation, on the entry and use of high fructose corn syrup by beverage companies.
But the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental, on motion of Board Member Alain Gatuslao, yesterday passed a resolution for the conduct of an inquiry in aid of legislation, in response to concerns raised by leaders of the sugar industry and stakeholders, over reports on the entry of HFCS in the country.
While the date of inquiry has yet to be determined, Gatuslao, who chairs the SP Committee on Laws, said he will check existing ordinances “for possible violations”, stressing also the issue of “more than just an economic unfairness but more on the health risks”.
Lacson, meanwhile, shared the concerns of the sugar industry leaders, and called on stakeholders to continue to dialog with food processors and industrial users.
Gatuslao said he will invite local experts and leaders of the sugar industry to the committee hearing.
Sugar planters have claimed that the entry, importation, and use of HFCS by beverage and food producers in the country resulted in losses of sugar industry by P10.5 billion that will result in an economic disaster if not addressed.
Lacson said the SP will support any move of Congress to investigate it. But he added that the SP needs to gather evidence “to prove that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are in these HFCS.” He also admitted that it would be a challenge.
Board Member Salvador Escalante, chairperson of the SP Committee on Finance, said that with the existing provincial ordinance banning the entry of GMOs into the province, “these products should be banned entry”.
Escalante said he will support any legislative action by the SP.
In 2007, the Negros Occidental SP passed a landmark legislation that bans the entry of genetically-modified plants and animals into the province and imposes penalties for its violation.
All Living Modified Organisms, defined as any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology, brought into Negros Occidental will be seized and destroyed at the expense of the violator, the ordinance also states.*GPB
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