The biotech industry is trying to block the UN Conference on Biodiversity, but it won't block farmers

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Foto: Vía Campesina
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Despite lengthy negotiations, the 14th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) ended on 29 November in Sharm El Sheickh (Egypt), leaving the door open to contamination and appropriation of all natural biodiversity and the food chain through patents from the biotech industry.


The "exterminating" GMOs developed using "gene drive" techniques aim at the permanent eradication of entire species: animals, plants or microbial. Once dispersed, no border can stop them until they have completed their deadly mission. The promises to eliminate in this way any vector of diseases such as malaria mosquitoes are lies: nature abhors the void and may even reveal new and even more aggressive vectors. Progressive governments have not been able to obtain the long-awaited moratorium to prohibit the spread of these chimeras. The Convention only recommends precautions: risk assessment, consultation with indigenous or local populations, but above all not with all interested citizens who could support them against the promoters of the "gene drives".


By reducing the genetic modifications thus obtained to a simple dematerialized "information" to fit into computer algorithms, the industry extends the scope of its patents to all plants, animals or microorganisms that naturally contain the same "information". The patent on the genetic information associated with genes that accelerate the growth of chickens thus allows the appropriation of all naturally fast growing chickens! We had hoped that this genetic information would be verified so that we could ban these patents on "native genes".


By multiplying uncontrollable artificial genetic modifications, the new "genome-editing" techniques generate even more risks to biodiversity, health and the environment than transgenic GMOs, while violating the very principles of the CBD. They were expected to be regulated in the same way as recently decided by the Supreme Court of the European Union.


The Convention confined itself to referring these two issues to new expert committees. In the meantime, industry can continue to release its new patented GMOs, even in countries that reject them, but will not be informed in the absence of binding international standards.


Delegates of the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) and La Via Campesina, who participated in Sharm El Sheikh, strongly denounce the arrogance of a handful of rich countries that block all reasonable decisions and the hidden tricks of industry that has corrupted some representatives of developing countries to create the illusion of meaningful support for their new patented chimeras.


Until stronger international decisions are taken, it is up to each country now to oppose all patented GMOs, whatever they may be. The millions of farmers in La Via Campesina, as well as all IPC organizations, will work with their many civil society allies to do so.
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