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3-Food: African consumer leaders adopt a critical position on GE food

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TITLE:  African consumer leaders adopt a critical position with respect to
        GMOs and their implications for food security in the region
SOURCE: Consumers International, Press Release
DATE:   Nov 26, 2002

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PRESS RELEASE: African consumer leaders adopt a critical position with 
respect to GMOs and their implications for food security in the region

November 20 - Lusaka, Zambia - African Consumer Leaders from 20 
organizations in 20 African countries, gathered in Lusaka, Zambia from 18-
20 November 2002, at the African Consumer Leaders’ Conference on 
Biotechnology and Food Security, organized by Consumers International 
Regional Office for Africa, and hosted by the Zambia Consumer Association 
(ZACA), have today, announced their formal positions on the issue of GMOs 
and Food Security in Africa.

The full declaration has been dubbed the Lusaka Declaration. The position 
taken by the consumer leaders on GMOs and food security include:

- All stakeholders have the obligation to guarantee full sovereignty and 
food security.

- Consumers have the right to choose the food they want to eat and pursue 
such choices based on their own tastes and convictions, be they religious, 
cultural, environmental, animal welfare or ethical considerations, and that 
such decisions must be respected and that consumers must be facilitated to 
make such decisions through transparent and full disclosure of all relevant 
and factual information.

- GM technology is not a solution for food security in Africa, including 
the small Islands States

- The problems of food security in Africa encompasses a broad range of 
issues such as: distribution, maximization of existing resources low-tech 

- African countries can address food security through maximizing existing 
resources, tackling distribution problems; promoting local foods which are 
low-tech and highly resistant

- The documented cases of environmental risks indicate that the adoption of 
GM technologies places bio-diversity in the region at risk

- Consumer leaders are opposed to intellectual property rights on genetic 
resources for food and agriculture because they do not serve the consumer. 
Consumer leaders call on national governments to:

- Enact and implementation of full comprehensive labeling laws; to ensure 
adequate safety testing of GM foods (domestically produced and imported)

- Effectively and explicitly integrate bio-ethics and other legitimate 
factors in all food policy instruments at the national, regional and 
international levels, including on national bio-safety committees and food 
standards organizations;

- Set up a bio-ethics commission to deal with research on biotechnology;

- Set up a risk monitoring body to study the impact of applying innovation 
in agriculture with respect to the rights and interest of consumers, which 
include access, choice and bio-diversity;

- Set up a commission and independent audit on the socio-economic impacts 
of biotechnology in Africa; ∑ Act in accordance with precautionary 

- Adhere to agreements regarding prior informed consent (re: food 

- Adopt national and regional regulatory frameworks regarding the 
introduction of GM seeds and foods;

- Ratify and implement relevant treaties such as the Universal Declaration 
of Human Rights, universal Declaration of Human Genome and Human Rights, UN 
guidelines for consumer protection and sustainable consumption and the 
Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety;

- Include consumer organizations in the drafting and/or revisions of 
consumer protection legislations on GMOs focusing on regional organizations 
and programmes like AU, NEPAD, ECOWAS, COMESA and SADC;

- Adopt, on the national level, the Organisation of African Unity’s (OAU) 
draft model law on GMOs;

- Reject private intellectual property rights on genetic resources for food 
and agriculture and to pursue an alternative that ensures that these 
resources are in the public domain where consumers and the community have 
access to theses biotechnological innovations

The consumer leaders also called for:
- The integrity, impartiality and transparency in the national food 
regulatory and knowledge-generating bodies to be restored;
- Immediate positive labeling of all foods derived from, or containing 
derivatives of biotechnology be they for relief of for sale;
- Industry to immediately stop their unethical influence on critical policy 
and decision-making instruments and processes on biotechnology either 
directly or indirectly;

These positions where developed after more than five plenary sessions where 
the 20 African consumer leaders where addressed by experts who support GMOs 
in agriculture and by experts who are against them. The consumer leaders 
drew their conclusions and formulated their own positions in a series of 
workshops which concluded on Wednesday 20 November 2002.

For further information and for copies of the full declaration, please 
Guy-Patrick Massoloka, Communications Officer for Consumers International 
Regional Office for Africa (CI-ROAF),
tel: (263-4) 30-2283
or visit
Consumer Internationals, Africa Office website: http://

Notes to the editor:

The following countries were represented by consume leaders attending the 
conference: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory 
Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, 
Seychelles, South Africa, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe

Links to Media Coverage:
International Conference Mulls Genetically Modified Organisms In Zambia
African consumers demand South Africa label GM foods


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