jueves, mayo 27, 2004

The FAO is taking a hell of a beating from NGO's and independent experts for its recent pronouncement in favor of biotech crops.

ISP to FAO: GM Crops Not the Answer

The Independent Science Panel (ISP) has criticised the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations for its qualified backing of genetically modified (GM) crops in the global fight against hunger.

The FAO recently released its annual publication, The State of Food and Agriculture 2003-2004. This year, the theme was on "Agricultural Biotechnology: Meeting the needs of the poor?" The report touches on the full range of agricultural biotechnology tools and applications, but focuses largely on transgenic or GM crops and their impact on poor people in poor countries.

The FAO is disingenuous when it calls on countries to develop stronger IPR regimes to promote GM crop research, even as the independent Commission on Intellectual Property Rights has expressed reservations over patent protection for plants and animals. Many developing countries that are World Trade Organisation (WTO) members, particularly the Africa Group, have also expressed similar concerns, joining countless non-governmental and civil society organisations, and some 700 scientists (including ISP members), to call for no patents on living organisms.

Is the FAO ignoring these views, much as it seems to be selective in the evidence it draws on to justify the report’s conclusions? For example, in the section on public attitudes, the report relies heavily on a survey that asks imbalanced questions. This section concludes that people in developing countries are generally likely to support agricultural biotechnology, which is not surprising, given that the risks are not mentioned in the questions asked, only the potential benefits.

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