Convention on Biological Diversity: Farmers Demand an End to the Commercialization of Biodiveristy, GM Seeds and Synthetic Biology

La Via Campesina - Press release 

(Hyderabad, 11 October 2012) As the worlds leaders gather in Hyderabad, India to discuss how to stop rapidly depleting biodiversity at the 11th Conference of Parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD), La Via Campesina (LVC), the global peasants movement, asserts that instead of protecting biodiversity, the CBD discussions are progressively degenerating to allow rapid privatization and commercialization of biodiversity. The attempt is to take biodiverisity out of the hands of the farmers, fishers, indigenous people who nurture and protect it, and let it go into the hands of profiteering corporations who seek to control it for commercial ends. 

CBD is also discussing risky, untested and undebated technologies such as new kinds of synthetic biology, GM crops and geoengineering. “They attempt to create life that does not exist in nature, or promote very large projects like ocean fertilization to sequester carbon in the oceans having a impact marine life. There is no institution to oversee such bizarre developments and we cant predict the risks. These techno fixes will not solve our environmental problems. They will only make it worse”, said Marciano Toledo, La Via Campesina member from Brazil. 

La Via Campesina promotes a strong monitoring of the industry which has been engaging in bio-piracy. “they steal our local biodiversity in order to patent it and commercialize it for profit. This patenting of nature needs to be stopped. In India Monsanto's subsidiary Mahyco has stolen our indigenous brinjal varieties to produce its Bt brinjal. The Indian biodiversity authority is now doing the right thing by taking legal action against them,” said KV Basavraj of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha(KRRS), Karnataka Farmers movement. 

Small farmers bear the brunt of privatization of biodiversity and the commercial mono-culture model of farming. On one hand it places unfair economic burdens on farmers due to increased cost of production and indebtedness. “ The farmer suicide epidemic in India is directly linked to GM cotton and privatization and increasing costs. This is an attempt out wipe out our local small holder agriculture which is based on local biodiversity and resources,” said S Kannaiyan of South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements. On another hand this commercial monoculture model of farming has serious ecological impacts- GM crops and commercial hybrids use high fossil fuel based chemicals, consume more water, cause toxicity, increased pests and and emit green house gases. 

The real solution is to keep biodiversity public, in the hands of farmers, fishers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, open for use by all people to develop and use publicly for food production and human survival. It is well known that farmers, fishers and pastoralists have developed and renewed biodiversity over the millenia, their knowledge and expertise is crucial for conserving biodiversity. “We need to implement food sovereignty- which means ensuring the right of local producers to produce food in an ecological manner that maintains local and wild ecosystems. Small farmers develop biodiversity on their fields all over the world. This is the way to conserve biodiversity, to solve climate change and feed the world,” said Nandini Kardahalli of KRRS. 

La Via Campesina is calling upon the CBD conference to take immediate action and to engage in the following measures: 

1.To ban the introduction and cultivation of GMO seeds. Evidence has shown and proven that in the long term, the use of GMOs do not meet its promises such as productivity increase but on the contrary, lead to the development of super-weeds and genetic contamination, environment degradation as well as a sharp decline in biodiversity.The expansion of transgenic seeds has to be prevented, contrary to what is happening now in countries such as Indonesia who just allowed the introduction of GMO's. 

2.To phase out the use of chemical pesticides. The production and use of chemical pesticides and herbicides (such as Monsanto's Round-up) is currently increasing, becoming one of the main causes of the crisis of biodiversity. 

3.To shift from the use of synthetic fertilizers to the use of agroecologymethods by using more organic matter in the soil and increasing micro-organism population in the soil. 

4.To reject the Green Economy proposal of putting a price on nature and its functions. We say no to biodiversity and ecosystems offsets through market mechanisms, such as the Payment for Environmental Services and the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). Biodiversity and ecosystems are unique wherever they are, and companies should not be able to destroy biodiversity and ecosystems in one place and “offset” it elsewhere. 

5.To affirm and maintain the moratorium on terminator technology and the moratorium on geo-engineering. We call for the strengthening of the moratorium on geo-engineering, including a ban on field testing of geoengineering experiments, as they could have serious impacts on nature and the livelihoods of peasants. 

6.To urgently place a moratorium on synthetic biology. We call for a ban on the environmental release and commercial use of synthetic biology. 

Farmers and seed savers will be at Hyderabad representing the voice of the small farmers movement La Via Campesina throughout the CBD COP11 . 

La Via Campesina activities during CBD 

  • 15 Oct, 1430-1700 hrs: Discussion on “Commercialization of biodiversity and threats to food sovereignty and farmers rights” at the Peoples Biodiversity Festival, at Exhibition Grounds, Nampalli, Hyderabad. (please call us for directions if needed)
  • 16 Oct, 1815-1945: Side event in side the official conference “Peasant Seeds And Agroecology: Food Sovereignty In Practice” HALL I - Ground Level) 

Contacts for the media: Ashlesha Khadse secretariatlvcsouthasia@gmail.com, +919900200771; 

Kannaiyan: +91 9444989543; Tejo Pramono : tpramono@viacampesina.org

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