Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

Press Release

16.05.2008

Diversity not Monocultures

Alternative Summit on Food and Agriculture calls for a Halt to Genetic Engineering and Agrofuel Development

The 700 participants from more than 100 countries who attended the international “Planet Diversity” congress closed the event by demanding an international moratorium on the production of ‘agrofuels’ and the use of genetically engineered crops. They called for a revolution in agriculture oriented towards the survival of and respect for all peoples, animals and plants. The combined climate and biodiversity catastrophes demand a common, radical paradigm change among farmers, consumers, scientists and governments. The current food crisis, despite agricultural surpluses, is a political scandal.
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02.05.2008

Combating world hunger: diversity not monocultures

Broad alliance organises May 12th demonstration against hunger, commodity market speculation and genetic engineering

To mark the start of negotiations on the UN Cartegena Biosafety Protocol (of the Convention on Biological Diversity) in Bonn, Germany, 80 farmers, development and environmental organisations have called for a demonstration for biodiversity: “Regional, fair and GMO-free!” Demanding a radical change in agricultural policy, with fair food prices, free access to seeds and knowledge and free choice of food and cultivation methods, they say “no” to industrial monocultures and biofuels, and to subsidies for cheap meat production, “no” to genetic engineering firms that refuse to accept liability for damages, and “no” to commodity speculation on the world market which could kill millions of people.
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29.04.2008

For regional biodiversity – against global monocultures

Participants at demonstration, festival and Planet Diversity Congress campaign for biodiversity

To mark the beginning of negotiations on the UN Cartegena Biosafety Protocol in Bonn, Germany, “Planet Diversity” will bring together guardians of biodiversity from around the world. On May 12th they will welcome UN convention delegates with a demonstration and festival “for biodiversity – regional, fair and GMO-free!” More than 80 farmers, development and environmental organisations will support the demonstration, calling for a radical change in agricultural policy. The message of the recent IAASTD report on world agriculture is clear: industrial agriculture with its vast monocultures, factory farming and use of pesticides and genetic engineering cannot sustainably combat hunger in the world.
More...

 

Diversity not Monocultures

Alternative Summit on Food and Agriculture calls for a Halt to Genetic Engineering and Agrofuel Development

Press Release, Bonn May 16, 2008 - The 700 participants from more than 100 countries who attended the international “Planet Diversity” congress closed the event by demanding an international moratorium on the production of ‘agrofuels’ and the use of genetically engineered crops. They called for a revolution in agriculture oriented towards the survival of and respect for all peoples, animals and plants. The combined climate and biodiversity catastrophes demand a common, radical paradigm change among farmers, consumers, scientists and governments. The current food crisis, despite agricultural surpluses, is a political scandal.

The goal of the international network emerging from “Planet Diversity” is to deliberate on common values and a wholistic revolution in agriculture and food consumption. Businesses should be won over through critical and precautionary, practical progress.

„The monocultures of the past decades no longer contribute to the production of more and better food. They do not feed the world’s poor, but instead fill the meat factories and cars of the rich. They damage the climate, exhaust the soil, lead to the burning of forests, waste and poison our limited water and drive small farmers and inidigenous peoples fom their land,” summed up conference organizer Benedikt Haerlin. “Industrial agriculture is a fossil of the past that threatens to destroy our natural and cultural diversity and with it our ability to survive.”

The farmer and grassroots groups of “Planet Diversity” see this interpretation confirmed by the recent report from 400 scientists and experts of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). Its co-president Hans Herren told the conference that “business as usual is simply not an option anymore,” and stressed that: “the means and technologies to overcome hunger are available. What is missing is the political will to apply them intelligently and systematically.”

This call of alarm from the world body should not be ignored for years like the first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), demanded Indian seed and environmental activist Vandana Shiva. World trade and speculation with agricultural raw materials have created the situation where despite increasing production, the number of hungry will swell to a billion people. “We farmers can produce enough food for the populations of today and tomorrow when we are not forced into dependence on multinational trade, chemical and gene technology corporations and robbed of our natural means of production,” said farmer leader Mamadou Goita from Mali.

Seeds, the basis of all agriculture, are not the private property of Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer, but are rather the common inheritance of humanity. „The right to trade, plant, further develop and sell seeds should be the basis for an agriculture in service to humanity, instead of profits,” said Guy Kast-ler of the Network for Rural Seeds in France. Hunger and climate change can only be overcome if we bring diversity back into the fields instead of locking it up in gene banks.
The disappointing results of the negotiations on an international liability law in the framework of the Biosafety Protocol show how little the genetic engineering firms trust their own safety measures. An-gela von Beesten from the German section of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment, who led a workshop on the health risks of genetic engineering, pointed out that independent research and health assessment are practically impossible because of secrecy.
“Diversity not monocultures,” also stands for the participants of “Planet Diversity” as a new ethical consciousness: “We are a part, and not the rulers of, nature,” reads their Bonn Manifesto.

Mone Volke
Benny Haerlin
Press and publicity

Planet Diversity, Berlin
c/o Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft
Marienstr.19-20, D-10117 Berlin
Tel:  +49 30 28 48 23 25
Fax: +49 30 27 59 03 12

presse@planet-diversity.org
www.planet-diversity.org

 

Combating world hunger: diversity not monocultures

Broad alliance organises May 12th demonstration against hunger, commodity market speculation and genetic engineering

Press Release, Berlin 2 May 2008 - To mark the start of negotiations on the UN Cartegena Biosafety Protocol (of the Convention on Biological Diversity) in Bonn, Germany, 80 farmers, development and environmental organisations have called for a demonstration for biodiversity: “Regional, fair and GMO-free!” Demanding a radical change in agricultural policy, with fair food prices, free access to seeds and knowledge and free choice of food and cultivation methods, they say “no” to industrial monocultures and biofuels, and to subsidies for cheap meat production, “no” to genetic engineering firms that refuse to accept liability for damages, and “no” to commodity speculation on the world market which could kill millions of people.

Rally speakers include Vandana Shiva (India), Farida Akhter (Bangladesh), Percy Schmeiser (Canada), Mamadou Coulibali (Mali), a representative of Via Campesina (Brazil), Ibolya Tamás és Gedó (Hungary), Maya Graf (Green Member of Swiss Parliament), Ulrich Kelber (Social Democrat Member of German Parliament), Dorothee Lindenkamp (farmer), Claudia Warning (Assoc. of Development NGOs), Hubert Weiger (BUND), F.-W. Graefe zu Baringdorf (German Family Farmers Union, Green Member of European Parliament) and Benny Haerlin (Planet Diversity).

From May 12, delegates from the 140 Cartagena Biosafety Protocol signatory states will negotiate international liability regulations for damages due to genetic engineering. Hubert Weiger, chairman of Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland: “We call upon the German Government to drop their soft line with large genetic engineering companies and stand up for mandatory international liability regulations, as farmers in developing countries have been without any legal protection against possible damages and contamination of their crops due to GMOs.”

"The food price explosion around the world is not due to crop failures or shortages. It is a consequence of speculation and unfair competition on the world’s commodity markets,” explains Rudolf Buntzel of the Evangelischen Entwicklungsdienst EED. “First, liberalisation and price dumping forced developing countries to become dependent on food imports, now they are faced with disaster: their own agriculture lies in ruins, while import prices have become exorbitant. Millions of people are experiencing new misery and avoidable hunger."

“Germany and the EU must immediately halt their plans for blending biofuels with diesel and petrol,” demands Stephanie Töwe of Greenpeace. “Car drivers must not be forced to burn food for fuel while the poorest of the world have nothing to eat.”

“The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) only recently called for a radical change in agricultural policies to guarantee a sustainable and fair food supply without destruction of its natural and social base. Innovative use and distribution of well-adapted technologies is the key to success. We must reduce the input of energy and pesticides and instead promote small farmer structures and regional self-determination in agricultural and food policies,” says Reiner Braun, director of the Association of German Scientists.

“Organic farming and other forms of ecological agriculture demonstrate, especially in countries of the global South, that a radical energy and pesticide reduction is possible without loss in nutritional value and with large benefits for rural development,” argues Gerald A. Herrmann, president of IFOAM, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.

“A few chemical and genetic engineering companies try to profit from the misery they contributed to in the first place. They are not part of the solution but part of the problem. Genetic engineering kills jobs in agriculture, results in agro-industry, uses mainly monoculture for crop and energy plants, does not increase profits and certainly fails to contribute to food security,” explains Friedrich Wilhelm Graefe zu Baringdorf of the German Family Farmers Union.

“The decisive question is: diversity or monoculture?” concludes Benedikt Haerlin of the Foundation on Future Farming. “For millions of years, diversity has been the only reliable innovative force of nature. Agro-industrial monocultures are its worst enemy. Freezing seeds in the Arctic and digitalising and patenting gene banks is not enough to stop the extinction of species and the destruction of agricultural diversity. Diversity must live to develop and to preserve. Biodiversity will only survive and flourish with cultural diversity on this planet: we are diversity!“

Further Information
Demonstration, Festival of Diversity in Bonn and international conference “Planet Diversity,” May 13 – 15 with more than 500 participants from 90 countries: www.planet-diversity.org.

Contact:
Benedikt Haerlin, 030 27590309
Mone Volke, Planet Diversity, Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Tel: 030 28 48 23 25, Fax: 030 27 59 03 12, presse@planet-diversity.org
c/o Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft, Marienstr. 19-20, 10117 Berlin

 

For regional biodiversity – against global monocultures

Participants at demonstration, festival and Planet Diversity Congress campaign for biodiversity

Press Release, Berlin, 29.04.08 - To mark the beginning of negotiations on the UN Cartegena Biosafety Protocol in Bonn, Germany, “Planet Diversity” will bring together guardians of biodiversity from around the world. On May 12th they will welcome UN convention delegates with a demonstration and festival “for biodiversity – regional, fair and GMO-free!” More than 80 farmers, development and environmental organisations will support the demonstration, calling for a radical change in agricultural policy. The message of the recent IAASTD report on world agriculture is clear: industrial agriculture with its vast monocultures, factory farming and use of pesticides and genetic engineering cannot sustainably combat hunger in the world.

“We need a new agriculture,” said Benedikt Haerlin, lead organiser of the Planet Diversity congress. “One billion people are starving,” he said, “and although the current protests are mainly taking place in the cities, most of the world’s hungry live in rural areas. We cannot afford monocultures any longer, with their massive input of fertilizers and pesticides.” Genetic engineering is no solution, nor is patenting of seeds which prohibits the traditional exchange of seeds – and with it the exchange of ancient knowledge.
“We stand at a crossroads,” declared Georg Janßen, executive director of the German Family Farmers Union AbL, which is organising the demonstration.  He maintains that radical changes are needed to support small farmers on a global scale. Yet the German government with its one-sided promotion of the agricultural industry wants to keep things just as they are until 2013. Genetically modified plants are no solution as they only increase farmers’ dependency on the agricultural industry. “We call upon the German government, the governments of the federal states and the German Farmers Union to reconsider. The future belongs to small-scale farming, not to industrial agri-business. We want to emphasise quality: healthy, GMO-free foods instead of industrial mass produce.”

The organisers will not allow the countries of the Northern and the Southern hemisphere to become divided over these issues. To strengthen international cooperation they have called for an international rally and demonstration in Bonn on 12 May 2008.

The demonstration’s demands are almost the identical with those of the IAASTD report on world agriculture: against global monoculture, against agro-fuels and international fuel speculation, against experiments in genetic engineering, bio-piracy and patents on life. For  the preservation of regional biodiversity with the free exchange of seeds and knowledge.

Speakers at the final rally include two Right Livelihood Award laureates: Indian physicist Vandana Shiva and Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, who was sued by chemical giant Monsanto for patent infringement after his fields were contaminated by genetically modified pollen.

Following the demonstration, a Festival of Diversity will take place from 2 –10 pm in the Bonn Rheinaue Park. With a colourful program and activities for all ages, the Planet Diversity festival will inform the general public about the loss of biodiversity in the world’s fields, stables and kitchens. International conference-goers will participate along with many local, regional and national farm, environmental, development and food and agriculture related groups.

“This festival will appeal to all senses, with something for everyone: a children’s area with a petting zoo and games, cinema and theatre, live music as well as varieties of plants and delicious food from the region and around the world,” explained Ute Sprenger, from a member organization of the Planet Diversity coalition. A celebration of the UN-designated “Year of the Potato” will take place in its own thematic pavilion, and the Bolivian Ambassador will speak from the main stage on the importance of the potato in his country.

A multicultural program will be presented on two stages, with live music, dance, cabaret and talk with agricultural and environmental experts from around the world. The talent will include: Bolivian and Haitian dancers; Russian speed folk; rock and classical music; jazz and Afro beats; Latino bands and Japanese drummers. Well-known cabaret artist Gregor Lawatsch will appear, as well as bands from a high school rock band competition. Songs such as the "Love Song for Linda (the Potato)" and a homage to the Schwäbisch-Hällische pig will passionately demonstrate that in Germany too, agriculture must change to prevent further reduction in the diversity of crops and farm animals.

The demonstration and festival will kick off the three-day Planet Diversity conference, an international gathering of 500 participants from 80 countries addressing key issues regarding local and regional biological and cultural diversity to support rural innovation and guarantee food sovereignty and food safety.  The plenary sessions will be translated into four languages. More than 30 workshops over the three days will focus in on the issues and consider strategies and actions for the future.

Contact:
Anna Gyorgy
Bonn office coordination, English language press
Planet Diversity
c/o IFOAM
Charles-de-Gaulle-Str. 5, 53113 Bonn, Germany
Tel: 0049 (0) 176 53 51 71 86
a.gyorgy@planet-diversity.org
www.planet-diversity.org

Background information:

Planet Diversity Congress Program: www.planet-diversity.org/programme.html
Press, registration and contacts: www.planet-diversity.org/press.html

12 May 2008:

Demonstration: www.planet-diversity.org/demonstration.html
Meeting place: 10:00 am, Rheinaue Park Bonn

Festival of Diversity: www.planet-diversity.org/festival.html
International pavilions and stories, music, theatre, talks, films, activities, children’s program, dance and regional specialities from around the world. Showing the film “The World According to Monsanto” (German version) by filmmaker Marie Monique Robin.
2 pm to 10 pm, Rheinaue Park, Bonn

13 to 15 May 2008:

International Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture
Plenary sessions, information exchange and more than 30 workshops on food sovereignty and access to healthy food, seeds, water and land; fair consumer relations; GMO-free regions; patents on life and genes; biofuels; indigenous knowledge, women and diversity. The congress takes place at the Gustav Stresemann Institute, Bonn.

Speakers include among many others World Food Prize laureate and co-president of IAASTD Hans Herren,  the Right Livelihood Award laureates Vandana Shiva, Percy Schmeiser, Farida Akhter and Royoko Shimizu, Jakob von Uexküll of the World Future Council, scientists such as Miguel Altieri, president of the Latin-American Society for Agroecology, Ulrich Köpke, president of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research, theologian and biologist Günter Altner and biologists Christine von Weizsäcker and Florianne Koechlin.

16 May 2008:

Public presentation of the congress findings, excursions and follow-up meetings.

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