DFID Ignores Evidence on GM
Immediate release (7 Dec 2005)
Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065
DFID continues to assert the potential of biotechnology in its agricultural strategy launched today , in spite of growing concerns in southern countries about GM crops. China and South Africa have both recently slowed the introduction of GM crops in their countries. One State in India has banned GM cotton. GM soya monoculture in Argentina is causing serious social and economic problems.
- The Chinese authorities failed to agree to license GM rice because the lack of safety data. 
- South Africa has recently halted approvals of new applications to import GM maize pending a study into their impact on South African trade. 
- The Indian State Andhra Pradesh has suspended the permission to sell GM BT cotton varieties after crop failures. 
- Argentina is experiencing growing environmental, social and health problems associated with widespread GM soya cultivation. 
DFID’s strategy for agriculture relies on unproven public – private partnerships with brokers such as the African Agricultural Technology Foundation developing GM crops suitable for southern farmers. In 2003 the Commission for Intellectual Property Rights reported to DFID on the potential impact of patenting laws on poorer smaller farmers who rely on saving seed from one harvest to the next . At an earlier DFID stake holder meeting on the strategy, DFID officials said that the inclusion of biotechnology in the strategy was “non- negotiable”.
Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:
DFID appear to be blind to the performance of GM crops around the world and growing doubts about their safety and suitability. Their over reliance on GM crops to solve poverty is very worrying. The biotech industry’s record on this to date is not impressive and public private partnerships have produced very little to date. DFID is in danger of ignoring many more cheaper and accessible solutions to increase productivity and alleviate poverty for farmers in southern countries.
Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065.
 Growth and poverty reduction: the role of agriculture. A DFID policy paper published by the Department for International Development. December 2005.
The Commission was asked to consider:
How national IPR regimes could best be designed to benefit developing countries within the context of international agreements, including TRIPS.
How the international framework of rules and agreements might be improved and developed, for instance in the area of traditional knowledge – and the relationship between IPR rules and regimes covering access to genetic resources.
The broader policy framework needed to complement intellectual property regimes, including for instance controlling anti-competitive practices through competition policy and law.
See links for recommendations on agriculture and the government’s response.