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9-Misc: U.S. family farmer declaration on genetic engineering inagriculture



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TITLE:  Farmers' Declaration on Genetic Engineering in Agriculture
SOURCE: National Family Farm Coalition, USA
        http://www.nffc.net/bio1.htm
DATE:   Feb 2003

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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