DfID still pushing GM crops (12/8/2005)

At long last the UK government's Department for International Development (DfID) has released its agricultural guidelines. There will be consultation over the next 2 months with a meeting in September

Consultation to date has already led to some changes (e.g. "Ensure the participation of representatives of the rural poor in shaping agricultural policies") but the thrust is the same, including a commitment to help governments spread GMOs, including those patented by the private sector:

"Support governments in resolving contentious science-related issues, such as intellectual property rights and the adoption of genetically modified crops"

It seems they never learn. DfID's support via a controversial GBP65m aid programme for the Vision 2020 project in the Indian state Andhra Pradesh, which included GM crops, led to the overthrow of the AP government by farmers who objected to their backing for the project.

As the Independent on Sunday has said that of DFID's previous support for GM projects, "The whole programme legitimises and promotes technology still opposed by many Third World governments and their peoples. Britain has no business doing this."

Excerpts and links below. For more on DfID: http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=204

The new DfID agriculture paper has been launched by Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for International Development.

Launch of the Draft Agriculture Policy Paper:

This draft paper is now open for consultation over the coming two months. Please send any comments to [email protected]

There will be a UK based consultation in September, details to follow later in August.


"Productivity growth for poverty reduction: an approach to agriculture
DfID's commitment to agriculture

"Agriculture has been and will remain a key part of our efforts to reduce global poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. This document explains why we believe agriculture is so important to reducing global poverty and identifies the principles and priorities for agricultural development strategies that will guide us.

"114. Biotechnology has the potential to provide significant benefits for poor people if it provides technologies relevant to their needs and is managed safely. This is particularly true for Africa, where there is limited potential to improve yields of major staples from existing varieties. Biotechnology must be accompanied by: supportive public policies; assurances on safety; and adequate regulation at a reasonable cost.

115. Concerted measures are also needed to improve public access to new technologies, which are often privately developed (DFID, 2004d). The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) is a good example of this (Box 3.3)."

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