GENET archive


9-Misc: Free trade proponents, Ag(Biotech) industry and researchersin support of FAO biotech report

Dear GENET-news readers,

to read more about the activities of the leading groups behind these
letters you should have a look at:

a good list of affiliates to this international free trade and
libertarian network is published by:

Hartmut Meyer

                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

SOURCE: International Consumers, USA
DATE:   Jul 16, 2004

------------------- archive: -------------------


NGOs in support of FAO report, "Agricultural biotechnology: meeting the
needs of the poor?"
An open letter to Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director General of UN Food and
Agriculture Organization

July 16, 2004

Mr. Jacques Diouf
 Director General
 UN Food and Agriculture Organization
 Geneva, Switzerland

Dear Mr. Diouf,

We, the undersigned NGOs and civil society stakeholders involved in
farming and agricultural issues, wish to express our support and
agreement with the FAO report released Monday, May 17 ("Agricultural
biotechnology: meeting the needs of the poor?").

We applaud the FAO for moving the discussion about agricultural
biotechnology away from polarizing political rhetoric and either/or
debates toward how best to utilize and apply agricultural biotechnology
to the needs of the world's poor and undernourished. This is a most
welcome advancement of the international discussion.

The FAO is to be commended for its balanced, well-reasoned approach. The
report acknowledges that while there are potential risks from the use of
agricultural biotechnology, the potential benefits are both large and
greatly needed given the challenges humanity faces in feeding a larger,
more affluent population from an already limited land and resource base.

Far from proposing a "technological fix" to food security problems, the
report acknowledges that biotechnology alone cannot solve the problems of
the poor and that a multifaceted approach is needed to address systemic
poverty and malnutrition in developing regions. The report also stresses
the need to carefully assess the socio-economic, food safety, and
environmental impacts of biotechnology on a case-by-case basis,
considering both the opportunities and risks.

Importantly, the report acknowledges that biotechnology offers tremendous
promise in increasing food security, food safety, and economic
opportunities for smallholder farmers in developing countries.
Biotechnology can speed up conventional breeding, address intractable
disease problems, create crops that resist disease and insect pests and
displace toxic chemicals that harm the environment and human health, help
combat difficult endemic livestock diseases, and improve the nutritional
quality of dietary staples heavily relied upon by the poor. Because the
technology is embodied in the seed, these may be easier for small-scale,
resource-poor farmers to utilize than the technologies of the previous
and successful Green Revolution.

While currently led by the private sector and focused on developed
countries in the West, the report notes that there are critical
opportunities ahead for biotechnology to address the particular needs of
the poor and that cooperation and adequate funding are needed to ensure
that the needs of the poor are not neglected and barriers to access are

Noted in the report are public-private partnerships, increased funding
for public-sector transgenic crop research, and technical and regulatory
capacity-building in developing countries to ensure they have the skills
and knowledge necessary to make their own decisions about the use of

The report notes that the emerging evidence on the economic impacts of
transgenic crops for smallholders is positive, with enhanced incomes and
reduced pesticide exposure.

Finally, the report highlights some of the difficult agricultural and
nutritional problems faced by smallholders in developing countries, and
the unique and powerful ways that agricultural biotechnology can address
these issues.

Perhaps most importantly, this FAO report acknowledges the food safety of
transgenic products currently on the market. The report stresses that
regulation should be science-based and noted the critical role of the
Codex Alimentarius Commission and International Plant Protection
Convention in easing international tensions in trade and food aid.

We commend the FAO and your office for weighing in on this important yet
still contentious area and offering reasoned optimism about the role that
agricultural biotechnology should play in meeting the needs of the poor
and humanity in the 21st century.


Alex Avery, Director of Research
 Hudson Institute, Center for Global Food Issues

Frances B. Smith, Executive Director
 Consumer Alert and
 Coordinator, ICCS
 Washington, DC

Dr. Richard A. Herrett
 Consultant, Formerly head of the non-profit Agriculture Research Institute

Prof. Jaroslav Drobnik, President
 Non-profit Biotech Education Organization
 Czech Republic

Dr. Alena Gajdosova, Deputy Director
 Institute of Plant Genetics and Biotechnology
 Slovak Academy of Sciences
 Nitra, Slovak Republic

Dr. Michael A. Wilson
 Department of Biological Sciences
 University of Warwick
 (Formerly CEO Horticulture Research International 1999-2004)

Dr. Peter Langelüddeke
 Hofheim, Germany

Dr. Narpat S. Shekhawat
 Biotech unit. JNV University
 Jodhpur, India

Dr. Vivek Damle
 Mumbai, India

Dr. Robert Wager
 Malaspina University College
 Nanaimo, Canada

Farzana Panhwar, President
 The Sindh Rural Women's Up-lift Group
 Hyderabad, Pakistan

Dr. Phil Larkin
 Senior Principal Research Scientist
 CSIRO Plant Industry
 Canberra, Australia

Dr. Thomas R. DeGregori
 Professor of Economics
 University of Houston

Waldemar Ingdahl, Director
 Tankesmedjan Eudoxa

Deroy Murdock, Senior Fellow
 Atlas Economic Research Foundation

Thompson Ayodele
 Institute of Public Policy Analysis

Dr. Tim Evans, President and Director General
 Centre for the New Europe
 Brussels, Belgium

Greg Conko
 Competitive Enterprise Institute
 Washington DC

Dr. Chris R. Tame, Director
 The Libertarian Alliance
 London, England

Karen Kerrigan, Chairman
 Small Business Survival Committee
 Washington, DC

Parth J. Shah, President
 Centre for Civil Society
 New Delhi, India

Barun Mitra
 The Liberty Institute
 New Delhi, India

Alberto Mingardi, Director
 Globalization and Competition Policy
 Istituto Bruno Leoni

Carlo Stagnaro, Director
 Environmental Policies
 Istituto Bruno Leoni

Jay Lehr, Science Director
 The Heartland Institute
 Chicago, USA

Elizabeth Whelan
 American Council on Science and Health
 New York

Paul Driessen
 Senior Policy Advisor, Congress of Racial Equality
 Senior Fellow, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow

Dr. Boudewijn Bouckaert, Director
 Department General Jurisprudence and History of Law
 Member, High Council for Justice
 Erasmus Lecturer, Harvard Law School
 Gent, Belgium

Brian Lee Crowley, President
 Atlantic Institute for Market Studies
 Halifax, Nova Scotia

Dr. Don Ross, Professor
 University of Cape Town
 University of Alabama
 Cape Town, South Africa

Garrett J. Glass, Executive Director
 Digital Freedom Network
 Newark, New Jersey

Dr. Krassen Stanchev, Executive Director
 Institute for Market Economics
 Sofia, Bulgaria

Leon Louw, CEO
 Free Market Foundation of Southern Africa
 Johannesburg, South Africa

Martin Chren, Director
 The F. A. Hayek Foundation Bratislava
 Bratislava, Slovak Republic

Dr. Yuri N. Maltsev
 Carthage College
 Kenosha, Wisconsin

Fred Oladeinde
 The Foundation for Democracy in Africa
 Washington, DC

Horacio R. Marquez
 The Latin America Finance Group, Inc.
 Princeton, NJ

Dr. C.S. Prakash
 Center for Plant Biotechnology Research
 Tuskegee University
 Alabama, USA

Drew L. Kershen
 Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law
 University of Oklahoma College of Law
 Norman, OK , U.S.A.

Martina Newell-McGloughlin, DSc
 University of California Systemwide Biotechnology
 Research and Education Program
 Co-Director, NIH Training Program in Biomolecular Technology
 UC Davis Davis, CA

Henry I. Miller, MD
 Fellow, The Hoover Institution
 Stanford University
 Stanford, CA

Dr. Joseph D. Rosen,
 Professor of Food Science
 Rutgers University
 New Brunswick, NJ

Michael Fumento
 Senior Fellow
 Hudson Institute
 Washington, D.C.

Borut Prah
 IBM Corp., retired
 Oakland, CA

Roger N. Beachy, President
 Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
 St. Louis, MO

Eustace G Davie, Director
 Free Market Foundation
 South Africa

Senator Rudy Boschwitz
 Advisory Chairman
 Hudson Institute, Center for Global Food Issues

Robert B. Goldberg
 HHMI University Professor
 Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
 University of California,Los Angeles

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Open Letter to FAO Director General in Support of SOFA 2003-04 -
        Biotechnology Report
SOURCE: International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research
DATE:   Jul 11, 2004

------------------- archive: -------------------

Open Letter to FAO Director General in Support of SOFA 2003-04 -
Biotechnology Report

Dear Director General,

We, the signatories of this letter, are scientists and scholars involved
in independent academic research related to the international
implications of agricultural biotechnology. We are writing this letter to
support FAO's recent report: The State of Food and Agriculture 2003-04;
Agricultural Biotechnology: Meeting the Needs of the Poor? In our opinion
the publication provides a comprehensive overview of biotechnology's
potentials and constraints, and it reflects current scientific knowledge
on this important subject area.

Genetically modified (GM) crops have been field tested since the late
1980s, and since 1996 they have been grown commercially in over 16
countries, including several developing countries. The FAO report points
out correctly that this new technology is associated with certain
environmental and health risks, so that effective biosafety and food
safety regulations have to be integral components of responsible
biotechnology development and utilization. Yet, the evidence so far
suggests that environmental and health risks can be managed, so that
there is no reason for an outright rejection of GM crops based on safety
concerns. Risk assessments have to be carried out and risk management
have to be implemented on a case by case for every individual
biotechnology product.

In terms of the economic and social impacts in developing countries,
independent studies that have been conducted over the last eight years
show a fairly consistent picture. Roundup Ready (RR) soybean farmers in
Argentina profit from lower costs of weed control. Bt cotton growers in
China, South Africa, Argentina, Mexico, and India benefit from
significant reductions in chemical insecticides and higher effective
yields. In spite of higher seed prices, on average these advantages
result in sizeable income gains for GM crop adopters, including resource-
poor farmers. Studies even show that the net benefits for small farmers
can be bigger than for larger farmers. That the majority of the farmers
is highly satisfied with their GM crop experience is reflected in the
rapidly increasing adoption rates. Likewise, agricultural consumers can
benefit from lower commodity prices. The FAO report provides a good
summary of the academic studies available in this direction. Most of
these studies were published in high-ranking, peer-reviewed scientific
journals. More research is needed before conclusive statements about
secondary socioeconomic effects can be made, but the evidence so far
demonstrates that GM crop technology can be very suitable for poor
farmers and consumers in developing countries.

However, as the FAO report also emphasizes, the examples of small farmers
benefiting from GM crops are still very limited in number. Most of the
poorest countries lack the scientific and regulatory capacity to adapt
available GM technologies to their local needs. Moreover, biotechnology
products that are especially designed for poor farmers and consumers have
hardly been developed up till now. Without significantly bigger public
sector support for research and capacity building and effective public -
private cooperation the advantages of agricultural biotechnology will
bypass the most vulnerable population groups. Also, the international
proliferation of intellectual property rights is an issue that requires
closer scrutiny and new institutional mechanisms in order to improve
biotechnology access for the poor.

Agricultural biotechnology is not a panacea for developing countries.
Technological instruments cannot substitute for other important policies
that address the institutional and structural problems of food insecurity
and poverty. But, with appropriate policy support, agricultural
biotechnology could make an important contribution to sustainable
development. The FAO report highlights the major areas where public
interventions are needed, in order to bring the "gene revolution" to the
poor on a larger scale.

From our perspective, the FAO report currently provides the most
comprehensive and up-to-date review of issues related to agricultural
biotechnology and developing countries. The potentials and constraints
are tackled in a very balanced way. Therefore, this publication will be
an important contribution to rationalizing the international debate on
this topic.

View Current Signatures


this open letter has been launched at:

8th International Conference on Agricultural Biotechnology: International
Trade and Domestic Production

organized by the: International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology
Research (ICABR)

and the:
Catholic University of Leuven
CEIS - University of Rome "Tor Vergata"
Center of Sustainable Resource Development, University of California at
Economic Growth Center, Yale University


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
E: coordination(*)
W: <>

   GENET-news mailing list