Confronting the Biotech Engine (4/5/2003)

4 May 2003

Confronting the Biotech Engine

From: Patrick Mulvany <[email protected]> Food Security Policy Adviser, ITDG, (Intermediate Technology Development Group)

Confronting the Biotech Engine: updated Internet resources for some of the Global Processes on Agricultural Science and Technology for "Development" <http://www.ukabc.org/iard/index.htm > (Email copies of pages are available if you want)

It's time again for the Monsanto-inspired World Agricultural Forum... plus other delights from the USA, UN, World Bank, GFAR and others over the next couple of months. NB For the latest on Nanotechnology, its potential impact on society and the need for its governance, see < www.etcgroup.org >


The 2003 WORLD AGRICULTURAL FORUM & WORLD CONGRESS, St. Louis, Missouri, USA, May 18 - 20, 2003

For those who have not followed this before, the forum is corporatising and coopting 'sustainable agriculture'.

The Title of this year's Forum is [with translation...]: A New Age in Agriculture [i.e. more rapid Molecular-level Biodevastation]
Working Together [i.e. to a US Corporate Agenda?] to Create the Future [e.g. Sterile Dystopia?] and Disabling the Barriers [i.e. to allow unregulated Movement of TNCs' Goods, Capital, Technology?]

I don't know if FAO will attend this one, but in 2001, FAO's DG Diouf made a keynote address and said: "Hunger is often not just a result but also a cause or a fuelling component of conflict and civil strife, and has direct influence on uncontrolled immigration and urbanization... Ethics has a fundamental role to play in guiding the use and direction of science in the development of technologies so that the basic needs of mankind receive their due priority. This requires "science with a conscience", transparency and honesty with regard to its potential benefits and consequences both for present and future generations. This need is especially apparent where the results of science cannot be foreseen with absolute certainty." <http://www.fao.org/dg/2001/achieve-e.htm >

FT report of the 2001 Forum said: "Divisions on world hunger wide as ever: World Agricultural Forum fails to heal rifts between agribusiness, agencies and developing nations" <http://www.jubilee2000uk.org/worldnews/northamerica/world_agricultural_foru m.htm>

This year it is IFAD supported by Brazilian President 'Lula' and others, including Borlaug, Sanchez and Zoellick, who will make the keynote addresses. Andrew Bennett of Syngenta, Susan Sechler of Rockefeller and Ray Offenheiser of Oxfam America among various Northern NGO/ Foundation contributors + many from the CGIAR.

"These leaders will focus on the growing polarity [sic] between civil society, business and governments and will present their arguments on how to create a more equitable and sustainable agricultural system."

Full programme at < http://www.worldagforum.org/2003_agenda.html >

Peoples' Resistance at < http://worldagforum.com/action/ >

 The "policy makers" at the WAF could learn more if they were sat down and read the beautiful book, Fatal Harvest, and shown its stunning photos of biodevastation in the name of agricultural progress: "Fatal Harvest is a book that will forever change the way we think about food. This book will inform and influence the growing public movement of activists, farmers, policymakers, and consumers who are fighting to make our food safer for ourselves and for the planet." < www.fatalharvest.org >


Next stop on the World Biotech Tour is Sacramento for the pre-Cancun Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agriculture Science and Technology in June 23 - 25, hosted by US Department of Agriculture < http://www.fas.usda.gov/icd/stconf/conf_main.htm >

Peoples' Mobilisation

[Soon at < http://www.sacramentoministerial.org/ > ]

"The U.S. government, and its corporations, are keen to shift debates around hunger away from issues of distribution towards issues of production."

Origin of this Ministerial meeting, conceived at the US dominated World Food Summit: five years later, see:
< http://www.ukabc.org/wfs5+report.htm >



"An international assessment on agricultural science and technology would bring together representatives from governments, industry, the scientific community and NGOs from around the world to work together to give decision makers the tools and information they need to answer these questions in a larger policy context and to shape the future of agriculture. " Steering Committee meeting - 50 people including representatives of Oxfam International, Greenpeace, Consumers Union - will be held in 12/13 June in Cork, Ireland. < http://www.agassessment.org/ >

CSOs are suspicious of the motives - possibly covert promotion of genetic engineering - and have organised to ensure the assessment is inclusive of all technologies, sciences, knowledge systems, and focused on the needs and demands of the majority of farmers, herders and fisherfolk, the production of safe, healthy food and sustaining the biosphere. It should look retrospectively at and learn from the contribution of science and technology to the present state of food and agriculture, hunger and livelihoods and the integrity of agroecosystems. An initial meeting in Dublin, followed by regional meetings (next in Delhi in May) has allowed participation by some NGOs, although the weight has been formal sector institutions and business. There has been no legitimate representation by small-scale producers in these meetings. CSO pages < http://www.ukabc.org/iard/agassessment.htm >



GFAR 2003: Linking Research and Rural Innovation to Sustainable Development, May 22 - 24, Méridien Président Hotel, Dakar, Senegal, West Africa < http://www.egfar.org/gfar2003/default.shtml >

FARA preparatory meetings: Consultative meetings by the private sector, biotechnology 17 - 18 May.
The 2nd FARA plenary 'Sustaining Africa's agriculture through research for development' 19 - 20 May
Senegal Agriculture Day (21 May 2003) Feature visits/exposition of Senegal's advances in agricultural research and development.
< http://www.egfar.org/gfar2003/documents/FARAflyer.pdf >

The NGO Committee has 'frozen' its relations with the CGIAR at system level because of the CGIAR's increasingly corporate focus, support for genetic engineering and intellectual property rights, inaction over GMO pollution in the Centers of Origin of crops and its neglect of its fundamental mandate. The CGIAR is reviewing its 'Partnership Committees', including its NGO Committee, through a 3-person review panel.  

GRAIN comment on NGO Committee action
< http://www.grain.org/seedling/seed-03-01-6-en.cfm >
Statement and more on NGO Committee action
< http://www.ukabc.org/iard/index.htm >
Peoples' Street Conference
< http://www.geocities.com/resist_agtncs/psc.htm >

Global Agricultural Research: Enhancing Food Sovereignty?
< http://www.ired.org/anglais/documents/pdf/018.pdf >
Backgrounder on CGIAR and GFAR from GRAIN
< http://www.grain.org/publications/seed-01-9-1-en.cfm >



"FAO, IFAD and The World Bank are organizing a ministerial roundtable on "The role of agriculture and rural development in eradication of hunger and poverty" as part of a one-day meeting being organized by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on 30 April 2003 at UN headquarters in New York.  

This meeting is part of a series of preparatory events for this year's ECOSOC high-level segment to be held from 30 June to 2 July 2003 Geneva, Switzerland. The theme for this year is: "Promoting an integrated approach to rural development in developing countries for poverty eradication and sustainable development"." < http://www.rdfs.net/news/events/0304ev/0304ev_ecosoc_en.htm >

A re-emergence of the old Integrated Rural Development concept of the 1970s at a time when the "Ecosystem Approach" is in the ascendancy in the UN system?  < http://www.biodiv.org/programmes/cross-cutting/ecosystem/default.asp >


On a more positive note - The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety needs only 2 more ratifications to come into force < http://www.biodiv.org/biosafety/ > .

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture already has nearly 50% of the ratifications necessary for it to come into force  < http://www.ukabc.org/iu2.htm >.

Sorry for X-postings...

Patrick Mulvany
Food Security Policy Adviser
ITDG, (Intermediate Technology Development Group)
Schumacher Centre
Bourton, RUGBY CV23 9QZ, UK
Tel: +44 1926 634469;  Fax: +44 870 127 5420
Email: [email protected]  &  [email protected]
: www.ukabc.org  &  www.itdg.org
Company reg. No 871954, England; Charity No 247257

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