SEARICE STATEMENT FOR COP-MOP6
2 October 2012
BAN GMOs WORLWIDE TILL RISK ASSESSMENTS INCLUDE SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS
SUCH AS FARMERS’ RIGHTS AND FOOD SECURITY
SEARICE CALLS ON ALL PARTICIPANTS TO THE COP MOP 6 TO IMPOSE A MORATORIUM ON GMO RELEASE WORLDWIDE FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:
Risk Assessments do not include socio-economic considerations such as farmers’ rights and food security;
Monitoring and assessment mechanisms are not in place to evaluate impacts of GMOs, most especially to smallholder men and women farmers/ food producers;
Unintentional transfer of LMOs continue unabated or are not discovered especially in developing countries;
Liability and redress mechanisms are not in place, especially in developing countries; and
Developing countries lack capacity in including socio-economic considerations in risk assessments, monitoring and reporting, determining unintentional transfer, and in installing liability and redress mechanisms.
Governments in 1996 during the World Food Summit committed to halve world hunger in 2015. This is the same goal in Target 3 of the MDGs. Recently, the G8 Summit in 2012 committed to eradicate world food hunger.
It is the mother of ironies that GMOs are touted for their socio-economic “advantages” such as “combat world hunger, increase farmer welfare through increased yield, and decreased pesticide use”; and yet no decisive action has been taken by the COP-MOP to the Cartagena Protocol as a collegiate body to willfully include socio-economic considerations in risk assessment and monitoring guidelines for biosafety decisions.
There needs to be more political will to include socio-economic considerations, that involve food security and farmers’ rights in risk assessments and monitoring, because biosafety decisions directly affect food security, farmers’ rights, sustainable agriculture and agricultural biodiversity.
Conventional methods of including socio-economic considerations in risk assessment and monitoring do not suffice. These only measure yield of GMOs in ideal settings and do not reflect conditions in the real world such as the capacity of farmers to buy the GMO seeds, and the external inputs that go with these, such as fertilizers and pesticides; as well as long term considerations affecting farmers’ rights and food security. These conventional methods are also one-way street, disregarding any interlinkages between socio-economic variables with other variables in risk assessments such as the biodiversity and the whole environment in general.
Resistance to socio-economic considerations are propounded by GMO-producing countries because:
International commitments1 to halve world hunger by 2015 occurred at the same time that GMOs were first cultivated in 1996; yet three years to countdown and world hunger remains a problem.
In 2008, four United Nations Agencies and the World Bank came up with the IAASTD report done by 400 scientists from 80 countries which do not endorse GMOs as a solution to world hunger since yields of GM crops were highly variable.
Farmers’ rights, although internationally recognized through the CBD and the ITPGRFA, are trampled upon with the use of GMOs, since there are limited or no genuine provisions to involve smallholder producers in biosafety decisions, or at the least, obtain their free and prior informed consent to cultivate GM crops. Instead, incentives promote the cultivation of GMOs which do not consider effects on agricultural biodiversity, and farmers are given false promises of increased yields and reduced pesticide use. Also, GMOs are covered by intellectual property rights that prevent farmers’ rights to produce, reuse, and exchange seeds. Worst, GMOs were found to reduce agricultural biodiversity, since these contaminate diverse PGRFA.
The CBD, FAO, and the UN Committee on Food Security have recognized agricultural biodiversity as one of the pillars of food security. Small men and women farmers play a significant role in agricultural biodiversity and food security.
Despite these interlinkages between biosafety decisions, food security, farmers’ rights and biodiversity, 56% of 72 parties to the Cartagena Protocol that underwent review, do not assess GMOs on the basis of conventional socio-economic considerations . How much more will countries test GMOs on the basis of food security and implementing farmers’ rights?
On the principle of the precautionary approach, a moratorium on GMO release worldwide needs to be imposed until such time that regulatory mechanisms are in place which consider socio-economic considerations, specifically, farmers’ rights, and food security.
Otherwise, events such as the suicide among Indian cotton farmers, and the bankruptcy suffered by US farmers in failing to sell their 2006 long grain rice harvests due to GM rice contamination, among other adverse effects of GMOs to people’s health and the environment will continue unabated.