Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

GMO free world perspectives

How to collaborate on the threat of GMOs world wide?

Organiser: Irina Maia (GENET) –

Moderator: Steve Emmott (Consultant on Environment and Trade, ex-Advisor of the Green Group)
Minute taker: Svetla Nikolova & Maaike Raaijmakers

Speakers and special guests :
Jeffrey Smith – Institute for Responsible Technology (USA)
Maggie Lilith – Conservation Council of Western Australia Inc (Australia & NZ)
Maria Isabel Manzur – Fundacion Sociedades Sustentables (Latin-America)
Mamadou Goita – IRPAD, COPAGEN (Africa)
Geert Ritsema – Greenpeace International (Europe)

The ambitious goal of the workshop of identifying points in common worldwide and define global actions was not achieved, but still it was a very useful exercise to have the global perspective given by speakers from 5 continents on the situation of GM cultivation and of resistance to its expansion.

•    Some Australian states decided not to plant GM crops and have moratoriums in place
•    Other states are growing GM – e.g. oilseed rape is planted in Victoria and New South Wales
•    Japan opposes GM crops in Australia
•    There are small grassroots campaigns in Western Australia
•    The two main arguments for farmers not to plant GM: don’t want to be in a franchise-type arrangement i.e. not being able to save their own seeds ; don’t want to risk their exports
•    It is hard to get anything in the media (newspapers or mainstream media)
•    There is no mandatory labelling but there are some GM-free labels  (with zero tolerance)New Zealand
•    Has no commercial growing of GM crops but has trials on animals.

Latin America
•    Largest growth of GM crops in the world; Argentina and Brasil largest exporters of GM soy; Argentina’s government is blind for rural areas and small farmers and totally happy with GM soy
•    Brazil was affected by GM expansion in Argentina; contamination forced Brazil to approve new law on biosafety allowing GM soy
•    Centre of origin for many crops: potatoes, beans
•    In Paraguay there are serious conflicts for land, human rights problems – small farmers surrounded by landowners; there is a moratorium on GM crops
•    Bolivia is pushing to grow GM
•    Mexico prohibited growth of GM corn/maize because it is the centre of origin for the crop, but there is illegal planting
•    Costa Rica and (?) are producing GM seed for exporting to the North
•    Latin America is receiving GM-food aid from the USA
•    There are campaigns for GM-free zones and countries and a network for GM free Latin-America
•    There was a UNEP-GEF project to create national biosafety network in 2003, but this did not work
•    Priorities for action: guarantee GM-free seeds & increase soy diversity; local seminars to inform people and raise awareness; support for campaigns on GM-free zones; legal tools

•    There’s big public resistance to GMO; the more they know about GM the more they reject it
•    There are campaigns in supermarkets & for GM-free animal feed
•    There’s a legal ban on GMO in 6 countries
•    GM cultivation only represents 0,01% of total agricultural area
•    Priority issues: labelling

•    In South Africa there is cultivation of Bt cotton and problems of contamination
•    In Burkina Faso there’s maize from a Canadian company that’s also causing contamination
•    Last year there was a joint meeting in Nairobi and a common position on GMO aroused. Discussion on how to prevent GM cultivation on the countries where there’s still no GMO
•    Need for informational tools
•    There’s a network of different organisations: women, farmers, children protection, fighting GMO

•    There are GMO in the entire food chain: feed, food, seed
•    Supermarket chains are starting to reject GMO (???): Starbucks, Walmart
•    There’s a big and growing movement to buy organic
•    There’s a need for clear definitions, standards and rules
•    A huge campaign to drive GMO out of the market is on its way – goal is to reach a tipping point of consumers pressure to drive GMO out of the market
•    Focus on health risks of GMO and choice of consumers
•    Information on how to choose non-GM food to the public, in schools, web sites; a brochure on “How to avoid GMO”
•    Organise the entire chain which is against GM: food suppliers, producers
•    Verify GM-free supply

Your contribution on this subject

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Last Contributions

Background Papers and further reading

Maggie Lilith: The situation in Australia - Pacific

GMO free world perspectivesPerspectives pour un Monde sans OGMPerspektiven für eine Welt ohne GVOsPerspectivas de un mundo libre de OGM

Local Organising Committee