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8-Misc: US farm groups warn of GE agriculture



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TITLE:  Farmers' declaration on genetic engineering in agriculture
SOURCE: sent by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)
        Peasant Movement of the Philippines, http://www.geocities.com/kmp_ph
DATE:   November 24, 2000

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


Farmers' declaration on genetic engineering in agriculture

Genetic engineering in agriculture has significantly increased the economic 
uncertainty of family farmers throughout the U.S. and the world. American 
farmers have lost critical markets which are closed to genetically 
engineered products. Corporate control of the seed supply threatens 
farmers' independence. The risk of genetic drift has made it difficult and 
expensive for farmers to market a pure product. Genetic engineering has 
created social and economic disruption that threatens traditional 
agricultural practices for farmers around the world. Farmers, who have 
maintained the consumer's trust by producing safe, reasonably priced and 
nutritious food, now fear losing that trust as a result of consumer 
rejection of genetically engineered foods. Many scientists believe 
genetically engineered organisms have been released into the environment 
and the food supply without adequate testing. Farmers who have used this 
new technology may be facing massive liability from damage caused by 
genetic drift, increased weed and pest resistance, and the destruction of 
wildlife and beneficial insects.

Because of all the unknowns, we, as farmers, therefore:

1. Demand a suspension of all further environmental releases and government 
approvals of genetically engineered seeds and agriculture products.
2. Demand an immediate, independent and comprehensive assessment of the 
social, environmental, health and economic impacts of genetically 
engineered seeds and agricultural products.
3. Demand a ban on the ownership of all forms of life including a ban on 
the patenting of seeds, plants, animals, genes and cell lines.
4. Demand that agrarian people who have cultivated and nurtured crops for 
thousands of years retain control of natural resources and maintain the 
right to use or reuse any genetic resource.
5. Demand that corporate agribusiness be held liable for any and all 
damages that result from the use of genetically engineered crops and 
livestock that were approved for use without an adequate assessment of the 
risks posed to farmers, human health and the environment.
6. Demand that the corporations and institutions that have intervened in 
the genetic integrity of life bear the burden of proof that their actions 
will not harm human health, the environment or damage the social and 
economic health of rural communities. Those corporations must bear the cost 
of an independent review guided by the precautionary principle and 
conducted prior to the introduction of any new intervention.
7. Demand that consumers in the U.S. and around the globe have the right to 
know whether their food is genetically engineered and have a right to 
access naturally produced food.
8. Demand that farmers who reject genetic engineering should not bear the 
cost of establishing that their product is free of genetic engineering.
9. Demand the protection of family farmers, farmworkers, consumers, and the 
environment by ending monopoly practices of corporate agribusiness through 
enforcement of all state and federal anti-trust, market concentration and 
corporate farming laws; by a renewed commitment to public interest 
agricultural research led by the land grant colleges; by an immediate shift 
of funding from genetic engineering to sustainable agriculture; and by 
expanding the availability of traditional varieties of crops and livestock.
10. Demand an end to mandatory check off programs that use farmers' money 
to support and promote genetic engineering research and corporate control 
of agriculture.

What many farmers have found about genetic engineering:

Genetically engineered agricultural products were released on the market 
without a fair and open process to assess the risks on human health and the 
environment or the social and economic risks to farmers and rural 
communities.

Family farmers' livelihoods and independence will be further compromised by 
genetic engineering. Genetic engineering empowers corporate agribusiness to 
accelerate capital and chemical intensive agriculture at the expense of 
family farmers and rural communities around the world, increases corporate 
concentration in agriculture, and poses unknown risks to the safety and 
security of the food supply.

Genetic engineering disrupts traditional agricultural practices creating 
social upheaval in rural communities and threatening agrarian cultures 
throughout the world.

Consumers worldwide are rejecting genetically engineered foods, driving 
down farm prices. This will force significant numbers of family farmers out 
of business.

Family farmers have been unfairly forced to assume liability for 
genetically engineered products that were not adequately tested before 
being released into the environment and food supply.

The corporate ownership of genetic resources and the corporate use of 
genetic engineering in agriculture is not designed to solve the problems 
farmers face in agriculture such as increased weed resistance, growing 
staple crops on marginal land, or making traditionally bred crops available 
to farmers worldwide, but rather to enrich corporations.

Genetically engineered seeds increase costs to farmers, have failed to 
perform as promised by corporate agribusiness, and, in some cases, yields 
have been lower and crops engineered to be herbicide tolerant have required 
increased use of herbicides manufactured by the corporations that market 
the seeds.

The "terminator" gene, which renders corporate seeds sterile and was 
developed with USDA resources, is an unconscionable technology because it 
destroys life and destroys the right of farmers worldwide to save seeds, a 
basic step necessary to protect food security and biodiversity.

Genetic engineering*: Genetic engineering involves taking a gene from one 
species and splicing it into another to transfer a desired trait. This 
could not occur in nature where the transfer of genetic traits is limited 
by the natural barriers that exist between different species and in this 
way genetic engineering is completely new and incomparable to traditional 
animal and plant breeding techniques. Genetic engineering is also called 
biotechnology. Another name for genetically engineered crops is genetically 
modified organisms (GMOs). (*Reference: Genetic Engineering, Food and our 
Environment by Luke Anderson, Chelsea Green Publishing Co., White River 
Junction, Vermont).

ENDORSERS OF THE FARMERS' DECLARATION ON GENETIC ENGINEERING IN AGRICULTURE

American Corn Growers Association
California Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
Citizen Action Coalition of Indiana (CAC)
Dakota Resource Council (ND)
Empire State Family Farm Alliance
Family Farm Defenders
Federation of Southern Cooperatives
Illinois Stewardship Alliance
Indiana Citizen Action Coalition
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
Land Loss Prevention Project (NC)
Land Stewardship Project (MN)
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance
Minnesota COACT
The Minnesota Project
Missouri Rural Crisis Center
National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
National Catholic Rural Life Conference
National Family Farm Coalition
Northeast Organic Farming Association (VT)
North American Farm Alliance (OH)
Northern Plains Resource Council (MT)
Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Assocation
Ohio Family Farm Coalition
Organic Growers of Michigan
Rural Advancement Foundation International  USA
Rural Coalition
Rural Vermont
Sustainable Cotton Project
Western Colorado Congress
Western Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
Women, Food and Agriculture



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