Press Release
June 30, 2015

Villar urges DA, NFA to stop spread of synthetic rice

Sen. Cynthia Villar today urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) to look into the reported proliferation of synthetic rice in the country.

"Obviously, the manufacturer of fake rice is doing this in the name of profit. We heard this is cheaper to produce and looks very much like the farm-grown rice. Our fear is that many of our kababayan will not be able to tell the difference and will be deceived into buying this cheaper type," Villar said.

Fake rice, which was also reported in neighboring countries China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, allegedly reached Philippine shores, with a reported discovery in Davao del Sur, noted Villar.

Reports said the synthetic rice is made of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and plastic, shaped into grains. Materials found in pipes and cables were also used in this type of rice.

"A nationwide inspection by DA and NFA should be conducted on warehouses and rice shops to identify the illegal peddlers of fake rice and make sure they will be severely penalized under existing laws," Villar said.

"Special attention must be given to small shops in rural areas, where fake rice could be discreetly sold," she added.

The chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food and concurrent chair of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Fisheries and Agricultural Modernization, said she expects the DA to submit the official report on the matter.

"The Bureau of Customs and the Coast Guard should also continue guarding our ports for the possible illegal entry of fake rice. We should be mindful that this type could be mixed with normal rice," she added. The Nacionalista Party senator also said an information campaign should be immediately launched to teach the public pointers how to identify fake rice and to encourage consumers to report its presence to authorities.

"Maraming magkakamali dito at ang sabi pa nga, one week na daw hindi pa napapanis ang kanin. Magmadali tayo dito dahil parang kumakain ka ng plastic kapag ito ang kinain mo," she added.

Health experts have warned that consuming such fake grains could be deadly or could cause serious damage to the digestive system.

If enacted into law, Villar added the smuggling of fake rice will be declared as economic sabotage under the bill she authored, Senate Bill No. 2765 or the Anti Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2015.

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