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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

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 [1], 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. [2]
  • South Africa has recently halted approvals of new applications to import GM maize pending a study into their impact on South African trade. [3]
  • The Indian State Andhra Pradesh has suspended the permission to sell GM BT cotton varieties after crop failures. [4]
  • Argentina is experiencing growing environmental, social and health problems associated with widespread GM soya cultivation. [5]

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 [6]. 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.

ENDs

Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065.

Notes

[1] Growth and poverty reduction: the role of agriculture. A DFID policy paper published by the Department for International Development. December 2005.

[2] See www.checkbiotech.org/

[3] TITLE: GMO maize import applications on hold, SOURCE: South African Press Agency / The Citizen, South Africa, see www.citizen.co.za/index/article.aspx?pDesc=10607,1,22

[4]See www.hindu.com/2005/11/27/stories/2005112716091200.htm

[5] Branford, S. (2004) New Scientist, 17th April 2004, pp. 40-43. “Argentina: A Case Study on the Impact of Genetically Engineered Soya – How producing RR soya is destroying the food security and sovereignty of Argentina” Joensen, L., Semino, S. and Paul, H, Rural Reflection Group, Argentina and EcoNexus, UK: www.econexus.info.

[6] The CIPR arose from a DFID White Paper “Eliminating Poverty: Making Globilisation Work for the Poor” published in December 2000 (paragraphs 142-149). The aim was “…to look at the ways that intellectual property rules need to develop in the future in order to take greater account of the interests of developing countries and poor people.”

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.

http://www.iprcommission.org/papers/word/final_report/chapter3wordfinal.doc

http://www.iprcommission.org/papers/word/govt_response/govt_response.doc