1.Powerful speech to FAO by poor farmer now on hunger strike
2.FAO condemned for shameless promotion of GMOs
3.FAO Steering Committee Member Resigns in Protest
4.GMO steal our future
5.Protest in Peru against FAO GMO meeting
1.FAO SPEECH OF BOHOLANO FARMER ISIDORO ANCOG IN GUADALAJARA, MX
I am Isidoro Ancog, small farmer from the Philippines. I represent the Asian Farmers Alliance for Sustainable Rural Development or AFA. My organization in the Philippines is PAKISAMA, a national confederation of small farmers, marginal fishers, rural women, indigenous peoples and rural youth. My organization PAKISAMA is a member of AFA. I am very grateful and honored to be invited to this conference, and for that I thank wholeheartedly the organizers and FAO.
Before I came here I have two FEARS and suddenly it becomes three now. I had a chance to read some of the documents that pertains to this conference. But I sadly regret that some or most of the terms there I do not understand because it is written in modern scientific parlance. That is my first FEAR, to go home after this conference with less understanding of modern scientific jargon.
However, there is one very obvious to me that I noticed. Most of the documents I came across deals with genetic engineering, and for that I have this feeling that this conference has defined biotechnology to zero in towards massive commercialization of Genetically Modified Organisms that is my second FEAR to face defensively to an adverse intellectual arrogance on a big scale?
My third FEAR is centered on the title of this first plenary; "Targeting biotechnologies to the poor". I do not believe that the poor people are well represented in this room especially from Asia where I came from. As a poor farmer in a remote province of Bohol, Philippines, I am extremely threatened rather than happy. I cannot speak for the entire AFA for this feeling. I can only speak for myself.
Why am I a target to technologies that are designed without my knowledge? That I do not really need? Are there any poor in this room that is not with me? Green Revolution, an approach to counter poverty and hunger introduced in the 60’s, although well-intentioned at first was considered a failure because the farmers could not sustain it.
Similarly, the introduction of GMOs in our farms like the Green Revolution, is so attractive at first but in the end exacerbates poverty and hunger because it was imposed particularly to those whom they called POOR. How many more farmers in India and elsewhere would be mired in debt and how many more will commit suicide because of GMOs? Do we have to make the same mistakes and end up with the same problems?
As an organic farmer, I am against GMO; my province Bohol, by law, rejects GMO; my organization PAKISAMA AFA fights against GMO. Why? Because we firmly believe it is not the solution to poverty and hunger, but rather a cause of more food deprivation in the future especially on seeds. It is very clear that GMO is an attack to life; it is an insult to the most ancient culture, which is agriculture; it runs against ecology; it violates the law of nature; it is the ultimate in genetic pollution; and above all, it is a disrespect to the integrity of creation.
I have very high respect to all the people attending this conference. But my fears are my fears, and unless it is addressed in this conference, I am formally announcing that I am on a HUNGER STRIKE beginning tomorrow morning until this conference culminates on March 4, 2010. Finally, as a recognized participant in this conference, I invoke my right to ask that this statement of mine be included in the document and proceedings thereafter; thank you very much.
2.FAO condemned for shameless promotion of GMOs
NOTE: Listed below are just some of the civil society groups that have condemned the FAO technical conference in Guadalajara, Mexico that starts today.
To the organizers of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization International Technical Conference on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries:
We the undersigned civil society organizations are appalled at the decision of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to sponsor a technical conference on agricultural biotechnology at this time, in this place, the birthplace of maize. The conference is taking place as the Mexican government moves to introduce genetically engineered maize in field trials, threatening the center of origin of maize and its most important center of diversity with irreversible contamination, a move being fought vocally and vigorously -- in this the UN International Year of Biodiversity -- by Mexican civil society, indigenous peoples, campesinos, and all those who stand in defense of maize and its history in Mexico.
The center of diversity of maize in Mexico is a resource of unparalleled importance for humanity. It is the repository of our future options, our genetic alternatives, as we confront the difficult challenges of climate change and continued agricultural production in environments degraded by agrochemical pollution.
Mexico is the birthplace of maize and custodian of its genetic diversity, diversity now threatened by contamination from the field trials. By holding this conference at this time in Mexico, the FAO appears to condone this dangerous step.
The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), a comprehensive, peer-reviewed assessment of the state of agricultural knowledge by over 400 scientists and development experts from around the globe, co-sponsored by the FAO and other UN agencies, has concluded that genetically engineered crops are not likely to contribute substantial solutions to the fundamental problems facing agriculture today. Genetic engineering is a technology in search of a problem, an expensive and risky distraction from real solutions to address problems of hunger, poverty and the impending challenges of climate change. Increased funding for ecological farming solutions that repair degraded ecosystems and provide resilience in the face of climate change -- not business as usual -- are the way forward.
Unfortunately huge sums of money are instead being spent on this conference, by the international community and the Mexican government, to clean the image of a technology that risks contaminating centers of crop diversity, increases pesticide use and, through patenting, takes away farmers’ historic and fundamental right to save seeds. The FAO should instead be using its resources to implement the policy options found in the 2000-page document resulting from the International Agriculture Assessment.
The world clearly faces huge challenges ahead to seriously address hunger and poverty in the face of a changing climate. The wisest scientists and agriculturalists of the world have provided us a blueprint for the way forward in the IAASTD report. One of the oldest agricultural civilizations of the world has given us a wealth of maize diversity. Nothing less than how to protect and use these resources in a way that is sustainable, socially just and beneficial for the world's poorest peoples and the planet's fragile ecosystems must be the agenda of the conference.
African Biodiversity Network
African Centre for Biosafety
AgriCultures Network, Netherlands
All India Drug Action Network, India
Asociacion ANDES, Peru
AS-PTA, Agricultura Familiar e Agroecologia, Brazil
Biowatch South Africa
Californians for GE-free Agriculture, USA
Center for Food Safety, USA
Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, India
Consumer Rights for Safe Food, Philippines
Diverse Women for Diversity
Doctors for Food & Biosafety, India
Ecological Society of the Philippines
Edmonds Institute, USA
Egyetemets Létezés Természetvédelmi Egyesület (ETK), Hungary
Environmental Studies Institute, Philippines
EQUIVITA Scientific Committee, Italy
Federation of Ecological and Environmental Organizations (FEEO), Cyprus
Food Systems Integrity, USA
Foundation for Genetic Resource, Energy, Ecology and Nutrition, India
Friends of the Earth International
Friends of the Earth, USA
Gaia Foundation, United Kingdom
Gen-ethisches Netzwerk (Gen-ethical Network), Germany
Genetic Rights Foundation, Italy
GM Freeze, United Kingdom
GM Watch, United Kingdom
Green Convergence, Philippines
ILEIA, Centre for Learning on Sustainable Agriculture, Netherlands
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA
Institute for Culture and Ecology, Kenya
Institute for Responsible Technology, USA
Institute for Sustainable Development, Ethiopia
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)
International Peoples Health Council (South Asia )
Justice and Peace Desk, Diocese of Marbel, Philippines
Kenyan Debt Relief Network (KENDREN)
Kheti Virasat Mission, India
MASIPAG (Farmer Scientist Partnership for Development), Philippines
Munlochy Vigil, Scotland
Network Opposed to Genetically Modified Organisms, Philippines
NOAH, Friends of the Earth, Denmark
Oakland Institute, USA
Partido Kalikasan (Philippine Green Party)
Pesticide Action Network North America
PLANT (Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples), USA
Practical Action, United Kingdom
Provincial Organic Agriculture Program, Office of the Provincial Agriculturalist, Negros Occidental, Philippines
Save Our Seeds, Germany
Servicio de InformaciÃ³n Mesoamericano sobre Agricultura Sostenible (SIMAS), Nicaragua
Soil Association, United Kingdom
Sunray Harvesters, India
Third World Network
Washington Biotechnology Action Council, USA
WFFP, Sri Lanka
49th Parallel Biotechnology Consortium
3.FAO's Biotech Meeting Dubbed "Biased for Business" as Steering Committee Member Resigns in Protest
ETC Group News release (revised), February 26, 2010
On the eve of a major intergovernmental conference on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries (ABDC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, a civil society member of the international steering committee has resigned, calling the preparations for the gathering of governments and scientists “hopelessly biased” and “foolishly sidestepping key socioeconomic and scientific issues.”
Pat Mooney, Executive Director of ETC Group, a Canada-based international civil society organization with a long history of work with FAO and biotechnology issues, resigned from the steering committee on Tuesday, February 23. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization conference, hosted by Mexico, runs from March 1- 4 in Guadalajara.
“The overwhelming thrust of the guiding documents for the meeting are hopelessly biased in favour of biotechnology and skewed to persuade developing countries that they have no option but to climb on the biotech bandwagon. It's unacceptable that a supposedly neutral inter-governmental body like FAO would allow itself to be turned into a billboard for Big Biotech,” Mooney says. “The organizers of the ABDC don’t seem to know the ABCs of how to run a conference where different points of view can get a fair hearing. The precautionary principle (related to human and environmental impacts) is almost ignored. The oligopolistic nature of the biotech seed industry where four companies control global seed sales is not addressed. And although the background documents mention problems related to biotech patent monopolies, they conclude that the global South has no choice but to surrender. There is no serious discussion about the enormous opportunity cost of developing genetically modified crops compared to conventional plant breeding.”
Pat Mooney is also making his resignation public because farmers and other civil society partners in Mexico have said that FAO organizers were using his membership on the steering committee to claim their interests were represented. “I would never claim to be speaking on behalf of anybody but myself,” Mooney insists. Last September, when Mooney received drafts of the conference documents, he wrote back with fourteen major amendments, mostly related to the overall bias of the texts and the issues that were not addressed. He advised the organizers that the documents as drafted should not be allowed to go forward. He received no reply. The final texts were sent to the steering committee just before Christmas and Mooney had the opportunity to review the several hundred pages only a few days ago. “I was shocked that none of the issues I raised were addressed.”
The conference has had problems from its inception. Mooney was invited to join the steering committee in mid-2008. Since he was unable to attend the first session, his colleague in ETC Group, Hope Shand, attended. Shand was so disappointed with the bias in the initial discussions that, with Mooney´s agreement, she resigned. Several months later, the FAO secretariat asked him to reconsider. “I was assured that FAO was anxious to have an open, multi-stakeholder dialogue on all of the issues,” Mooney recalls. “I felt that I should support a transparent dialogue and agreed to rejoin the committee. Having now read the final documents, I feel used and abused by the entire process.” Despite his resignation, Mooney will go to Guadalajara and attend the conference and participate on a panel on crop biotechnology Monday March 1st at 4:45 pm. “I have strong views and want to state them, but I can't be on a steering committee that hasn't steered anything, resulting in unacceptably biased documents.”
The choice of Mexico as a venue for the biotech conference is also controversial. The Mexican government has recently broken a 10-year moratorium on the planting of GM maize. Answering a letter against these GM maize trials sent by1500 organizations from 67 countries, the FAO secretariat said that it was a “national matter” for Mexico, not for FAO.
“It’s a mockery that FAO is coming to Mexico to endorse biotechnology. They seem to be oblivious to the historic crime that Mexico’s government is committing by allowing the planting of GM maize in its center of origin,” says Veronica Villa from ETC Group in Mexico. “Maize is not only in the heart, economies, cultures and livelihoods of the Mexican people, it is also one of the main staple food crops in the world. Contaminating the center of origin of maize concerns the whole world and FAO is not behaving responsibly.”
Many international organizations have reacted to the bias of this conference and have echoed the Mexican organizations’ concerns. While the FAO Conference is taking place the peasant and indigenous Network in Defense of Maize, Via Campesina and the National Assembly of Environmentaly Affected People will be convening a popular public hearing to prepare a case for international tribunals regarding transgenic contamination of native maize in Mexico.
This FAO Conference and its faulty process will be discussed in the tribunal.
For more information:
Pat Mooney, Executive Director
mobile phone : +1-613-240-0045
Silvia Ribeiro & Veronica Villa
ETC Group, Mexico
tel: +52 55 5563 2664
mobile phone : +52 1 55 2653 3330
 The observation sent to FAO is the file PDF2 above
 Coverage of the hearing and other activities under the umbrella called "GMO steal our future” can be found at http://www.radiomundoreal.fm/Los-transgenicos-nos-roban-el?lang=es and http://www.biodiversidadla.org
4.GMO steal our future
Network in Defence of Maize
Via Campesina North America
National Assembly of Environmentally Affected People
[Event] Guadalajara, Mexico, February 28-March 3 2010
Amidst national and international criticism the Food and Agriculture Organisation will hold a meeting in Mexico (March 1st-4th) when, at the same time, the Mexican government has authorised the first field trials of transgenic maize in the country, despising that Mexico is the centre of origin of maize. This FAO meeting, supported by the Mexican government, is defined as an international 'technical' conference entitled 'Agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries'. The aim is to present what they call 'options and opportunities in crops, forestry, livestock, fisheries and agro-industry to face the challenges of food insecurity and climate change', and also 'agricultural biotechnologies for food security and sustainable development: options for developing countries and priorities for action by the international community'.
As can be seen already from the title, this conference has been prepared with no intention to hide the promotion of biotechnology as a solution for the food and climate crises, thus promoting the corporations' standpoint and agenda all over. The crises are real but their solutions won't come from expensive, patented and controlled technologies set forward by a handful of transnationals. Indeed, these techno-fixes may pose further risks to hunger, health, environment and biodiversity.
Judging from its official published documents, the scenario set forward by FAO is particularly worrisome, considering also the time and place chosen to carry this conference: México, at a time when its government just ended a moratorium of at least ten years against GM maize cultivation; when after a process tainted by many irregularities authorised the experimental growing of transgenic maize through field trials, against the opinion, arguments and demands of millions of peasants, indigenous peoples and communities, as well as many scientists, consumer and environmental groups. This seriously endangers all native maize varieties, their biodiversity and the cultures that have created and nurtured maize since at least 8 thousand years ago as a vital element of their existence.
Facing such an attack by FAO, by the Mexican government and other institutions, the Network in Defence of Maize, Via Campesina-North America and the National Assembly of Environmentally Affected People call to the following activities that will have the participation of many national and international experts on the issue:
Sunday, February 28th
12:00, Ex-Convento del Carmen Square (Juarez Avenue and July 8th Street)
GMO steal our future: What you can't afford not to know
Pat Mooney (ETC Group, Canada), Alberto Gomez (Via Campesina North America), Camila Montecinos (GRAIN, Chile), Veronica Villa (Network in Defence of Maize, Mexico).
Tuesday, March 2nd and Wednesday, March 3rd
9:00 - 17:00, City Museum, Guadalajara (684 Independencia street, between M. BÃ¡rcenas and Contreras MedellÃn streets, Guadalajara City Center)
Transgenic contamination of maize: 'crime against humanity'
First public hearing to prepare the presentation of the GM Maize case before international courts
People who will testify the process:
Magda Gomez and Francisco Lopez Barcenas, among others
Tuesday, March 2nd
The Global Context
Transgenic crops: impacts on seeds, agriculture and food
Camila Montecinos, Pat Mooney, Silvia Ribeiro, Luis Hernandez Navarro
The case of transgenic maize in Mexico
Evangelina Robles (Colectivo Coa), Ernesto Ladron de Guevara (UNORCA)
Testimonies from indigenous communities and peasant organizations
ElÃas Velasco (ORAB), Eutimio Diaz (Wixarika people), UNOSJO, Oaxaca, Olegario Carrillo (UNORCA), Randy Jasper (NFFC, USA), Jan Slomp (NFU, Canada - Via Campesina North America).
Participation from the audience
Wednesday, March 3rd
9:00 - 14:30
Briefing on the previous day's discussion
Ramon Vera Herrera (Ojarasca, GRAIN)
Transgenic crops in the Mexican context of environmental, economic and political crises
Andres Barreda (Casifop, National Assembly of Environmentally Affected People), Ana de Ita (Ceccam)
Testimonies from the scientific community
Union of Socially Committed Scientists (UCCS)
Comments from the people testifying the process
What are we missing to complete the case filing?
Participation from all attendants
Wednesday, March 3rd
16:00 - 21:00, Escorza Square (Juarez Avenue and Escorza street)
Peasant and Popular Trial to Transgenic Crops
Public Meeting (Theater and other artistic expressions)
Exhibition of native seeds
Contacts and information:
Network in Defence of Maize
Via Campesina-North America
National Assembly of Environmentally Affected People
5.Protest in Peru against FAO GM meeting
On Thursday 25 February, Peruvian indigenous organizations, local government bodies and civil society organizations in Cusco, Peru, held a meeting to formulate a strategic response to a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) ABCD10, starting on 1 March, that will push for greater use of genetically modified organisms. A demonstration through the ancient Inca streets followed up this multi-stakeholder gathering.
The meeting produced a Declaration which underlines that the FAO agenda does not represent the best approach for tackling agricultural challenges, including those brought by climate change. The President of the Government of Cusco is officially sending the Open Letter of the Peoples of Cusco to the FAO Director General, members of ABCD10 organizing committee, and relevant Mexican government representatives.
For your information I am attaching an unofficial English version of the Cusco Declaration. [see below]
More information about the meeting and demonstration can be found at:
Open letter to the FAO and photo gallery of the event: http://www.andes.org.pe/Transgenicos_No_Gracias/
Youtube video of the event [Spanish]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pxjyDBqyYU
Open Letter from the Communities of Cusco to:
- Organizers of the International Technical Conference on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and
- Peruvian Representatives to the International Technical Conference
Calling upon the Solidarity of the International Community
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) calls attention to member states to make greater efforts in favor of the conservation of biodiversity, agrobiodiversity and the protection of cultures and knowledge of the indigenous peoples who are recognized for their valuable contributions to the food and health of humanity, for being the domesticators, breeders and guardians of the most important diversity of crops and animals.
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety of the CBD is an international instrument that seeks to regulate the international flow and movement, as well as possible adverse effects of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or transgenic organisms.
The Regional Government of Cusco Peru, indigenous and farmers' organizations and guilds, women’s and students groups, research institutions, as well as non-government organizations and other members of civil society, in the face of the FAO International Technical Conference on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries, meeting in the city of Guadalajara Mexico, sponsored by, among others, international biotechnology corporations who promote the production of transgenic seeds (GMOs), we declare the following:
1. That, Peru is one of the eight centers of global mega diversity and is the center of origin and domestication of 162 species of important cultivars for food and agriculture. In this landscape, Cusco is the center of origin and diversity of potatoes and other important crops, which for more than 10,000 years have been nurtured by our originating cultures, within a ritual agriculture that has made possible a sustainable base of genetic diversity and variability of native crops.
2. That, the Regional Government of Cusco, has enacted the Regional Ordinance N° 010-2007-CR/GRC, legal instrument that declares the Cusco Region Free of Transgenics, in which the introduction, cultivation, manipulation, storage, research, conservation, exchange, confined use and commercialization of genetically modified organisms GMOs is prohibited, for being considered a grave threat for regional food security, comprising the genetic and economic heritage of our region and for putting in risk the values of the indigenous cosmovision.
3. That, interested in the International Technical Conference on Agricultural Biotechnology in Developing Countries, planned for the 1 4 March of 2010 in Guadalajara, Mexico and sponsored by the FAO, we have revised the technical documents prepared for this occasion. These documents leave clear that the FAO ignores the needs and potential that traditional organic agriculture has for small-scale farmers and instead privileges the mass use of modern technology based on GMOs. This technology is concentrated in the hands of powerful international biotechnology and petrochemical corporations, which have a monopoly on 50% of the world's seeds, of which commerce reaches 38 billion dollars annually and yet, whose touted results are scientifically and technologically unproven.
4. That, the International Assessment of Agriculture Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), concludes that rural development problems are not only the result of low yields and lack of productivity, but rather that the conditions associated with food quality, environmental sustainability, access to water, land tenure, and use of alternative energy sources are key elements to the solution. The IAASTD recognizes the rights and needs of small-scale farmers, women farmers and those who suffer from hunger. The assessment also recognizes that the cause and persistence of poverty are associated to power relations and the unequal distribution of resources. The aforementioned document proposes solutions for agriculture, poverty alleviation and development that the FAO should implement.
5. That, it is an insult to the people of Mexico that the Technical Conference of the FAO is being held in the center of origin of maize (corn), biocultural heritage of global importance, during the International Year of Biodiversity, which should be celebrated for its concept of protection, promotion, valorization and development of our cultural and biological diversity.
The signing institutions, united in an open, participatory and democratic forum without hidden agendas:
WE DECLARE THE FOLLOWING:
1. The FAO must set forth their position to the international community, clearly, expressly and unequivocally against genetically modified organisms, strongly promoted by determined business groups with global reach.
2. The FAO must immediately implement the recommendations of the IAASTD.
3. The communities of Cusco reject the agreements of the Technical Conference, sponsored by the FAO, for closing the door and only collaborating with the participation of representatives that have demonstrated to respond to the interests of economic power and support of international agroindustrial corporations and sectors closely linked with the promotion of agricultural biotechnology (understood in this case as genetic engineering) and for acting contrary to the interests of the Cusco community and the small-scale and indigenous farmers of the world who on repeated opportunities have questioned and rejected the promotion of genetic engineering and specifically genetically modified organisms. The FAO is ignoring the interests and the voices of the world’s poor and small-scale farmers.
4. The FAO must take into consideration that, for indigenous and farming communities, seed diversity is critical for sustainable agriculture, climate change mitigation and adaptation processes, and for the dignity and food sovereignty of the communities. Ecological agriculture and our traditional practices can contribute to the eradication of hunger in the world.
5. We call upon all States participating in this conference to comply with their promises to create formulas and alternatives that ensure food security and sovereignty and nutrition, with the free and informed participation of small-scale farmers. We are convinced that the supply of ecological foods can feed the great majority of people in the world, in rural as well as urban zones.
6. We call for a reorientation of research and the recognition and application of our communities’ traditional knowledge, practices and systems of innovation supported by participatory methods, which manifest the potential our ecological model of food production and supply.
7. We express solidarity with the farmers, indigenous and professional organizations throughout the world that also have voiced their protest against this new season of GMO promotion and from Cusco call for a global moratorium on GMOs and for uniting efforts to adequately protect and regulate local and national food markets, preserving biodiversity, agrobiodiversity and ancestral cultures of indigenous and farming communities of the world.
Cusco 25 February 2010