FAO accused of favouring polluting industrial agriculture
LONDON (UK) / MONTEVIDEO (URUGUAY), March 1st, 2010) — Genetically Modified food and crops will not tackle hunger, poverty or climate change, said today Friends of the Earth International on the first day of the “International Technical Conference of the FAO on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries” held in Guadalajara, Mexico, from March 1st to March 4th.
The environmentalist federation denounces and rejects the fact that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is satisfying the demands of agriculture and biotechnology corporations instead of promoting peasant and ecological agriculture and food sovereignty, which are the real solutions to world hunger — as the FAO itself acknowledged on several occasions. Friends of the Earth also denounces the lack of civil society participation in the organization of this conference.
In addition, the FAO summit will be held in Mexico shortly after the Mexican government authorized the introduction of genetically modified corn into field trials, a decision condemned by numerous Mexican social, peasant, and indigenous peoples organisations, which want to protect their corn –the basis of their biological and cultural diversity—from further genetic contamination.
Numerous cases of GM contamination have been found in several countries, including Mexico. Contamination by GM plants affects not only the environment but also small scale sustainable peasants, who are already threatened by the fact that biotechnology giants patent their seeds and in an attempt to decrease traditional use, and reproduction and exchange of seeds in the rural world.
“FAO’s promotion of GM crops flies in the face of FAO’s own findings,” said Martin Drago, Friends of the Earth International´s Food Sovereignty Program Co-coordinator.
The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), an intergovernmental process made up by over 400 scientists and experts on development from all continents, co-sponsored by the FAO and other UN bodies, concluded that it is unlikely that genetically modified organisms bring substantial solutions to agricultural issues.
The report called for supporting and developing traditional knowledge and ecological farming techniques – an approach that is fundamentally incompatible with the biotech companies’ drive for patent-protected profits.
On February 23rd, Friends of the Earth International issued the report “Who benefits from GM crops? 2010” , which showed that genetically modified crops are not helping to solve hunger issues in the world.
The report highlights that GM crops are responsible for high increases in the use of pesticides and herbicides, which are derived from fossil fuels and are contributing to an increase in damaging carbon emissions. It also adds that the cultivation of GM soy to feed cattle on an industrial scale is one of the main drivers of deforestation (one of the most pollutant activities globally) in South America.
Genetic engineering is a risky and expensive technology which diverts attention and resources from true solutions to the food and climate crises. ”Food sovereignty and ecological small scale peasant agriculture, among others, can provide enough nutricious food to feed the world while drastically reducing greenhouse gases emissions. But they are not profitable enough for agribusiness,” warned Martin Drago.
The FAO, as a UN body, is supposed to protect the interests of humanity, but instead it is supporting the Guadalajara conference for biotechnology corporations, those very corporations that are failing to address the food and climate crises, but managing to make hundreds of millions of Dollars of profits with these crisis.
In response to this attack by the FAO supported by the Mexican government, Friends of the Earth International calls on people to participate and support to the alternative conference “GMOs steal our future” organized by the Network in Defense of Corn, Via Campesina North America and the National Assembly of Environmentally Affected Peoples, which will be carried out from February 28th to March 3rd in Guadalajara, Mexico, gathering national and international experts .
Follow daily coverage of Friends of the Earth International’s activities on Real World Radio
For more information, please contact:
Kirtana Chandrasekaran, FoEI´s Food Sovereignty Program Co-coordinator Tel: +44 (0) 20 7566 1669 and +44 (0) 79619 86956 (UK mobile)
Martin Drago – FoEI´s Food Sovereignty Program Co-coordinator Tel: + 5982 9022355 and +59899 138559 (Uruguayan mobile)
The report is available at: http://www.foeeurope.org/GMOs/Who_Benefits/who_benefits_full_report_2010.pdf
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