Via Campesina Disrupts CBD
2.Gene Campaign criticises India's 'silence' at global bio-safety meet
3.FIRMS FORCE FARMERS TO BUY NEW SEEDS EACH YEAR
1.VIA CAMPESINA JOINS BIODIVERSITY DAY CELEBRATIONS:
Via Campesina Disrupts CBD
This afternoon activists from all over the world have hung a banner, banged on teacups and handed out messages by Via Campesina during the official celebrations of Biodiversity Day at the 9th Conference of Parties (COP-9) of the UN Convention on Biodiversity. They did so at the end of a message by UN
secretary general Ban Ki Moon read by the Programme Officer of the Secretariat of the CBD to the distinguished delegates of the Convention.
The banners read "No Agrodiversity Without Farmers" and "Nature for People, Not for Business". The written message was brought to the attention of the delegates by farmers' group Via Campesina, who were refused to be part of the celebration ceremony just before biodiversity day.
According to Via Campesina as well as many other present at the convention small famers are the key to both the solution to world hunger and the safeguarding of the world's biodiversity.
Via Campesina also warns against corporate interests advocating for a new Green Revolution in Africa as a strategy to increase productivity. Although
they use concepts such as "sustainability", "participation", and
"biodiversity management", the production model is the same as that which has created the present crisis and growing loss of biodiversity
Small farmers, though, have the ability to feed the world. Peasant agriculture promotes food diversity, sustains traditional cultures and does not burden the environment. Moreover, small-scale, local and ecological production is an effective and immediate way of reducing carbon emissions
and cooling down the planet.
After a few minutes the banners were taken away by UN police officers and officials and the people holding them were escorted out of the Maritim Hotel, and lost their accreditation badges, which are required to participate in the meetings.
Members of Via Campesina were given a round of applause from the delegates when they chanted "nature for people, not for business".
Prior to the banner hanging action, members of Via Campesina and their supporters disrupted an industry lunch where agro- industrialists were congratulating each other for their excellent work at monopolizing the seed supply and destroying agricultural biodiversity. CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf, who has been criticized for his pro-industry actions, presented at the side event following the lunch.
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2.Gene Campaign criticises India's 'silence' at global bio-safety meeting
The Hindu, May 23 2008
NEW DELHI: India’s role at the recently held fourth Meeting of Parties at Bonn on the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety for developing a global Liability and Redress regime on Genetically Engineered Organisms (GEOs) has been severely criticised by the Gene Campaign which participated in the event.
Suman Sahai of the Gene Campaign, who participated as an “accredited NGO,” was disappointed that India played “no role” at this crucial meeting. She charged India with “falsely” attempting to show at the international meet that it had fully complied with the requirements of the Bio-safety Protocol on compulsory compliance standards for dealing with GEOs such as transgenic plants.
“It is sad India does not go prepared to such crucial negotiations. For a country that has so many aspirations to engage in this technology (genetic engineering), it is scary that it should have such disregard for bio-safety,” she said.
Dr. Sahai said developing a Liability and Redress regime in GEOs had always been a controversial subject in the Bio-safety Protocol since the biotech industry, supported by countries such as the U.S., Brazil , Australia, Japan, etc., strongly opposes any international regime that would fix liability if something went wrong with the use of GEOs. On the other hand, developing countries want parties that produce and export GEOs to be made “accountable” if any damage to human and animal health and biodiversity is caused.
“At the negotiations, there was a heated debate when the developing countries proposed a compulsory liability regime that is legally binding on all countries. The leadership of the developing country group was taken by Malaysia, supported by the Philippines, Colombia and other Latin American countries and very decisively the African countries who were vocal in their support and effectively blocked the developed country positions with firm arguments.”
“Unfortunately, India was a silent spectator during the entire debate, disappointing many that had hoped to see India in a leadership role, fighting for the environmental and health safety of people in all countries where GEOs are being produced.” India was represented by an official of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Dr. Sahai said that at the instance of Malaysia, which led the initiative for a global and legally binding Liability and Redress regime, a Like-Minded Group of about 80 (including India) was formed to lobby more effectively against the developed countries.
According to her, the opposition to the international Liability regime was consistent and led by Japan, Peru and Brazil.
At one point it appeared as though the talks would break down but the Malaysian delegation saved the day and as a compromise it was decided to continue the talks in early 2009.
3.FIRMS FORCE FARMERS TO BUY NEW SEEDS EACH YEAR
IPS/GIN, 23 May 2008
Farmers used to save seeds from each harvest to plant the next spring, but biochemical industry giants are now making this impossible: The seeds they sell grow into plants that do not produce new fertile seeds.
This forces farmers to buy a new batch of seeds from the companies every year.
Twenty-five years ago, there were at least 7,000 seed growers worldwide, and none of them controlled more than 1 percent of the global market. Today, after a takeover spree, 10 major biochemical multinationals, including Monsanto, DuPont-Pioneer, Syngenta, Bayer Cropsciencie, BASF and Dow Agrosciences, control more than 50 percent of the seeds market. 'The goal of these companies is, of course, to make profits,' said Benedict Haerling, a researcher at the German nongovernmental organization Future of Agriculture. 'In order to improve their profits, they all apply one strategy to increase their control of the market: they impose upon farmers worldwide the so-called vertical integration of inputs, from seeds to fertilizers to pesticides, all from one brand.' Compulsory customer loyalty, you might call it.
And through biochemical manipulation, including genetic modifications, many companies have made sure the harvest you obtain cannot be sown again. Such 'vertical integration of agricultural inputs' has transformed agriculture in developing countries into a two-class business, said Angelika Hillbeck, a researcher on bio-safety and agriculture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. 'In the developing countries there is a class of farmers with large plantations and enough money who can afford to buy all inputs from the major biochemical companies, from seeds and fertilizers to pesticides and conservatives.' But there are small farmers for whom the biochemical markets are out of reach.
Hillbeck and Haerling are scientific counselors to nongovernmental organizations and associations of small farmers in developing countries who are attending a U.N. conference on biological diversity in Bonn this week.
The conference aims at reviewing international compliance with the targets adopted in 2002 to significantly reduce the rate of decimation of species at the global and national level by 2010. It is also set to formulate binding international rules on legal measures to stop the loss of biodiversity.
The treaty is scheduled to be approved in 2010 in Japan.
The Bonn conference takes place in the framework of the U.N. Convention on Biological diversity, the international treaty adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio in June 1992 to protect biodiversity.
The convention's three main goals are conservation of biological diversity, sustainable economic use of flora and fauna, and the equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources among all countries.
The conference is also looking at the need to renew agriculture and restore biological diversity within it, especially through traditional farming methods and natural seeds.
Several groups are out to protect natural seeds. The Arche Noah of Austria has made an inventory of some 6,000 traditional plants and seeds, ProSpecieRara of Switzerland of 2,000 plants; and both the German Association for the Preservation of Organic Plants Diversity and Dreschflegel in Germany are working on 2,000 and 600 exotic plants respectively.
The one enemy they most fear is genetically modified organisms. 'What we do is go through the seed banks searching for ancient species, and try to grow them again, to reproduce them and put them back in the market,' said Ursula Reinhard, director of the German Association for the Preservation of Organic Plants Diversity. 'We have developed a natural species of red beets, and the thing we most fear is GMO contamination,' said Birgit Vorderwuelbecke, director of the Arche Noah seeds department. Such contamination would be in clear opposition to the objectives of biological diversity protection, Vorderwuelbecke said. She is seeking a ban on open air GM agriculture.
But major biochemical companies have expressed strong opposition to any international treaty regulating liability and compensation in case of health and environmental damage caused by genetically modified organisms.