FAO pushing GM in Africa with biotech front group (6/3/2006)

This really stinks. This is a joint initiative of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum (ABSF), which sounds fine until you know that ABSF is a Kenya-based front group spun off by the industry-backed ISAAA.

ABSF was established when Florence Wambugu was in charge of ISAAA's "Afri-centre" and ABSF has Wambugu as its Vice President. Wambugu won GM Watch's PANTS ON FIRE award for the extraordinary dishonesty of her promotion of GM in Africa.

There are people starving in Kenya. Meanwhile Wambugu and her Monsanto, USAID backers have helped literally millions of dollars and significant local resources be funelled into a totally unsuccessful and risky technology when viable and relatively inexpensive alternatives for improving crop production are readily available (see 'Monsanto's showcase project in Africa fails', New Scientist Vol 181, 7 Feb 2004)

Agricultural Biotechnology Network in Africa (ABNETA)
Abneta.org, March 3, 2006 [via Agnet]

Recognizing the enormous potential of biotechnology in plant breeding and therefore in food security, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum (ABSF), is in the process of establishing an agricultural biotechnology network for professionals and stakeholders in Africa.

This network, titled "Agricultural Biotechnology Network in Africa" (ABNETA)[1] will build a knowledge base in plant breeding and associated biotechnology and facilitate accesses to authoritative data to empower professionals and stakeholders with reliable information enabling them to take advantage of the new technologies for agricultural production and conservation in their decision making processes.

Neither at the country level nor at the continent level in Africa is such a system available for exchanging information in plant breeding and associated biotechnology.

ABNETA will be launched on the 21st of March 2006 followed by a coordinators meeting on the 22nd. FAO, through ABNETA, will enable the plant breeding and biotechnology community in Africa to discuss, learn, share and accept innovative views and concepts that would surely enhance the appreciation of biotechnology as a way to improve sustainable crop production in Africa.

The two most novel features of ABNETA are the ability to collect and disseminate information regarding related scientific equipments and techniques as well the ability to converge all related websites, databases and networks through the roadmap to one interface to facilitate the discussions and decisions making processes.

A range of partnerships needs to exist in order for ABNETA to build its capacity effectively, its knowledge base to be used efficiently and above all to assure its sustainability. While professionals in plant breeding and biotechnology from universities and institutes within Africa contribute and share their experience to build the knowledge base in ABNETA, stakeholders from public and private sector also need to be involved in order to assure the best use of the ABNETA knowledge base.

Partnership with International Organizations, including donors, with goals to achieve hunger free Africa that would move towards food security and environmental safety is critical for ABNETA for its sustainability.

[1] Additional information about the Agricultural Biotechnology Network in Africa can be found at the website www.abneta.org

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