CONTRARY to reports that genetically modified (GM) crops will help alleviate poverty in
The civil groups, led by
The group, in a statement made available to The Guardian yesterday, said African countries must realise that the campaign is all about the fight for food sovereignty - for the rights of people to grow food that suits their environment, protects their biodiversity and serves their ability to eat foods that are wholesome and culturally acceptable.
Therefore, "Policies must support systems of agriculture and food production that does not distort or damage local economies. We must not blindly or willfully promote policies that build neocolonial structures that lock in poverty by upturning tested local agricultural knowledge; promoting land grabs through large-scale industrial farming and creates dependency on artificial seeds and chemicals. True food security can only be assured by food sovereignty," they said.
Director, HOMEF Nigeria, Nnimmo Bassey, observed that a report by
Bassey said perhaps the report's authors were simply unaware of global opposition to GM crops, or missed the recent Malawian civil society response to
Bassey said it must be noted that
He added that even in
"Unperturbed by the prospect of legal action from the biotechnology industry, several states are pressing ahead with laws for the labeling of GM food. To argue that onerous laws and political expediency has created a situation of 'continual field trials', as the Chatham House report does, misunderstands or misrepresents several key issues at play," Bassey said.
Coordinator of AFSA Ethiopia, Million Bellay, added that the vast majority of GM crops grown worldwide were either tolerant to the application of herbicides, produce their own pesticides (Bt crops) or are a combination of the two.
"There is good reason that the 'pipeline' of new GM crops and traits, such as drought tolerant or nutritionally enhanced African 'orphan' crops, has not materialised; they are all profoundly more complex process than what has so far been commercialised.
"The fabled 'Golden Rice' (engineered with extra vitamin A) has been in development since the early 1990s. While this has been going on, the government of
"The obsession in promoting GM crops in
Bellay added that research had shown that small-holder farmers produce 75 per cent of the world's food, but only use about 25 per cent of the world's agricultural resources. The industrial agriculture chain only produces about 25 per cent of the world's food but uses 75 per cent of the planet's agricultural resources.
"Imagine the gains that could be made if even a fraction of the resources propping up the industrial food system were channeled into alternative systems," he said.
She said though the issue of risk is given little attention in the Chatham House report, "lest we forget that in late 2013, nearly 300 scientists and legal experts from around the world signed a statement affirming that there is 'no scientific consensus on GMO safety.
"That GM's proponents can claim the contrary merely reflects the undue influence the biotechnology industry has on the scientific process."
"Further, are philanthropists who are supporting GM development and pressuring
"No matter how much these forces manoeuver to seem altruistic rather than predatory, the smoking gun always seems to be visible. The combined forces of Big Agribusiness and Big Philanthropy have been so effective at pressuring our governments that some of them see biosafety laws as mere instruments to opening up our nations to the biotech industry and their local surrogates.
"African countries must realise that the campaign is all about the fight for food sovereignty - for the rights of people to grow food that suits their environment, protects their biodiversity and serves their ability to eat foods that are wholesome and culturally acceptable," she said.
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