In a seminar called "After the Green Revolution now the Gene-revolution?" in Amsterdam Thursday, farmer-delegates from three continents (South America, Africa and Asia) clearly stated their opposition to GE and transgenic organisms.
Elenita Dano from the Phillipines, Maria Jose Guazelli from Brasil presented their work on sustainable farming, and their views on the Green Revolution and the current GE developments in their countries. Both said that the introduction of GE is going with the EXACT SAME story as the Green Revolution was being brought in with.
The experience of the Green Revolution has not been so good. "It has undermined farmers’ confidence in their own capacity as breeders, besides bringing other harm from chemicals used. Hunger actually increased by 11% between 1970 and 1990", said Mrs. Dano. Mrs. Dano now works in a project with farmers relearning plant breeding and developing new rice-varieties, adapted to the local situation. The farmers do everything including taste-tests. The hybrids used in the Green Revolution also were tested on taste: "People do say that, compared to the other varieties, the hybrids taste like saw-dust".
Mrs. Guazelli talked much about the court cases in Brasil against approval of GE soy and corn. "Especially the GE corn is a threat in Brasil since it is an open pollinator. Many land varieties of corn are still grown in Brasil and they will all quickly get contaminated" She also explained how industry and government together defend GE which showed that the overall situation of industry/politics/"science" pushing of GE is a global event with seemingly not many differences between North and South.
The speaker from Africa had airplane-delay so arrived at the end, but his message was that the corporate control threat should be fought against. When asked whether a more public controlled development of GE would help them (an argument made here lately) the answer was negative by all three speakers. The seminar was organised by FoE Netherlands and Hivos, a north- south ngo.
"...farmers are likely to be weaned from pesticides to be force fed biotech seeds, in other words, taken off one treadmill and set on a new one! ...It is only too obvious to concerned scientists, farmers and citizens alike that we are about to repeat, step by step, the mistakes of the insecticide era, even before it is behind us." -Hans R.Herren, Director General, The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology Nairobi, Kenya
"Greater concentration of ownership inherent in the new technologies, and laws drawn up to protect them, is set to repeat and worsen one of the great mistakes of the green revolution. More dependence and marginalisation loom for the poorest. The inability to contain genetic material once released into the environment means that even field trials of new crops are tantamount to uncontrolled, irreversible experiments and invasions of the global commons." -Christian Aid, 'Selling Suicide: farming, false promises and genetic engineering in developing countries'
For much more on this, including links to articles on lessons from the green revolution, see: http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/feedtheworld.htm