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9-Misc: Civil society organisations' statement on GMOs from Cameroon



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TITLE:  NATIONAL WORKSHOP BY CIVIL SOCIETY ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS
SOURCE: Centre for Environment and Development/Friends of the Earth Cameroon
        http://www.africa-environment.org/index.php?
subaction=showfull&id=1122994612&arch
ive=&cnshow=headlines&start_from=&ucat=31&go=headlines
        (in French)
DATE:   30 Jul 2005

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ -------------------


NATIONAL WORKSHOP BY CIVIL SOCIETY ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS
Yaoundé, Benedictine Monastery
29-30 July 2005

FINAL STATEMENT

We, organizations of civil society in Cameroon, research organizations
and researchers, gathered in Yaoundé on 29-30 July 2005,
Led by the process initiated by the Centre for Environment and
Development (CED/FOE Cameroon) to monitor the policies and practices
concerning Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in Cameroon,
Taking into account that GMO pose a real danger to people's health and
the environment as well as to the socio-economic balance of our country
After analysis of the situation and legislation on GMO in Cameroon,

WE DECLARE/DEPLORE:

CONCERNING LAWS AND REGULATIONS RELATIVE TO GMO:
- the permissiveness in the legislation on security issues related to
modern biotechnology;
- the lack of rules and regulations for the implementation of the
legislation and the weak application of the existing laws

CONCERNING ACCESS TO INFORMATION
- the poor dissemination of the legislation on modern biotechnology in
Cameroon
- the difficulties in obtaining information from authorities and research
institutions

CONCERNING PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT IN THE DISCUSSION
- the little concrete involvement from civil organizations
- the poor collaboration between the authorities and civil society
- the disregard for opinions prevailing among civil society
- the weak implication of the public and other active segments of civil
society in decision-making procedures

CONCERNING CAPACITY BUILDING
- the lack of institutional and technical knowledge/competence at the
national levels in matters of GMO

CONCERNING RESOURCES
- the inadequacy of human resources
- the lack of material and financial resources

CONCERNING FOOD AID
- the questionable origin and quality of food aid for Cameroon
- the calling into question of food aid as solution to hunger issues in
the country

CONCERNING THE CONTROL OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE IMPORTS
- the arbitrary character of the control on agricultural food stuffs at
the port of entry
- the monopoly of a foreign agency in the current control system
- the absence of state institutions in control activities

CONCERNING CONSUMER RIGHTS
- the lack of information on offered food products
- the absence of systematic and honest labelling of products

IN LIGHT OF THE ABOVE, WE RECOMMEND:

For the Government:
- to officially forbid the production, importation and marketing of GMO
in Cameroon until these products have proven to be harmless
- to engage with civil society in a reflection for the revision of the
current law on modern biotechnology
- to accelerate the elaboration and publication of the regulations on the
implementation of the current law on modern biotechnology
- to actively implicate civil organizations in the elaboration and
finalization of any rules that are currently being drafted
- to widely disseminate information on GMO by engaging civil society
organizations
- to equip itself with the human and material means needed for the
systematic and effective control of food imports, in particular of GMO
- to establish a permanent and formal platform of dialogue with civil
society on questions concerning the protection of the environment in
general, and on GMO in particular
- to develop and put in place sustainable alternatives to food aid
(development of transport infrastructures, dissemination of information
on agro biological techniques...etc)
- to enforce the systematic labelling of products with the mention of
"contains.." or "does not contain GMO" or "(not) manufactured from GM
products"
- to demand the suspension of the African Panel of Biotechnology put in
place by the African Union, until its mandate is publicly debated to
ensure an equitable representation of all the actors

For research organisations
- to suspend all in-the-field g GMO trials as long as their harmlessness
has not been proven, and rather develop agro-biological cultivating
methods , which are healthy and take the environment into consideration.

For food processing companies
- to steer away from using GMO and/or GMO-based ingredients in their
production processes
- to respect the laws that regulate the norms and labelling of food products

AS FOR US, WE COMMIT OURSELVES:
- to form a network to monitor GMO in Cameroon
- to put in place in a short time frame the action plan elaborated during
this workshop to ensure the continuity of the underlying initiative
- to organize sensitisation campaigns on GMO and its dangers throughout
the country
- to contribute to the development of human resources on matters related
to GMO
- to publicize the activities currently undertaken by organizations that
scrutinize the issue of GMO
- to undertake lobbying and public advocacy to protect the consumers'
interests and to plead for the revision of the current law on GMO, and
the implementation of its rules and regulations to strengthen the
collaboration with research institutions
- to approach the organizers of the national workshop on NEPAD with the
request for GMO to be put on the agenda with discussions about, among
others, the suspension of the African Panel of Biotechnology
- to make a list of all civil organizations with mention of their contact
addresses present at this workshop and send it on to the Government and
to research institutions in the hope of more formal discussions.

Yaounde, 30th July 2005, the PARTICIPANTS




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