Datum: 10 juli 2001
Bron: Persbericht
Via: Biotech Activists, biotech_activists@iatp.org, 10 juli '01 door ngin@icsenglish.com


London/Manila/Mexico City 10th July, 2001 -Greenpeace today deplored the ill-advised pro-biotech prescriptions of the newly released Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), stressing that the report presents as facts the unsubstantiated promises
of the genetic engineering (GE) industry while dismissing the environmental risks and ignoring the real challenges of agriculture in developing countries.

"While the report in general follows the UNDP’s highly respected tradition of providing hard facts and a critical view on major development issues, its assessment of Agricultural Biotechnology suspiciously reads as if it had been written by a Public Relations agency to promote genetically modified organisms," said Von Hernandez, Campaign Director for Greenpeace in Southeast Asia.

The UNDP report claims that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) would increase yields and nutritional properties and provide solutions for complex agricultural challenges such as pest control and drought.
However, no single GMO on the market fulfils such promises and is of any relevance to the pressing needs of agriculture in developing countries.

"The UNDP of all agencies should know that complex problems of hunger and agricultural development will not be solved by technological ‘silver bullets’. The real crisis is the obvious neglect of research and investment in the further development and spread of sustainable and ecological agriculture technologies," added Hernandez.

Support for agriculture has decreased dramatically during the last ten years. Overall technical co-operation in the field of agriculture, forestry and fisheries from all OECD donor countries has been halved from more than 7 billion US Dollars in 1989 to less 3 billion in 1999.
The cut in support for agriculture has been particularly dramatic by the multilateral institutions like UNDP and the World Bank from 3.5 billion in 1989 to less than 500 million in 1999. (1)

"For UNDP to promote GMOs in developing countries as a solution after giving up any substantial role in supporting agricultural development is extremely hypocritical and does not help the credibility of UNDP in any way. Instead of naively advocating the export of ill-devised and unsafe GE technology in the South, agencies like the UNDP should concentrate on the dissemination and promotion of proven and sustainable methods to improve agricultural practices," added Hernandez. (2)

Furthermore, the report’s approach to the environmental risks associated with the release of GMOs into the environment and to their potential health risks can only be described as frivolous. There is general agreement that especially long-term environmental risks of GMOs cannot be assessed by present scientific means and that a lot of additional research would be needed to even properly assess the food safety of such varieties. (3)

"The reality is that GMOs are facing increased resistance in all industrialised countries and the global agrochemical and GE companies are dumping these questionable technologies on developing countries. To claim that the growing concern in the South was exported by Northern
conservationists is an insult not only to hundreds of southern non-governmental groups working on this issue, but also to the majority of Southern governments, who have fought hard against industry and US
attempts to prevent an International Biosafety Protocol, which has been adopted last year and clearly advocates a precautionary approach in agricultural biotechnology," said Hernandez.

Greenpeace fully supports access to new technologies for developing countries, including those of biotechnology (4). Developing countries must urgently be in a position to identify GMOs imported into their territories and should be enabled to device their own and proper approach to apply new insights from molecular biology. The most promising applications of these technologies do not require risky
releases of GMOs, but improvements of present breeding technologies, e.g. by use of genomics.

"The Northern Industry hype about GMOs will not feed the world but could put entire ecosystems at risk thereby posing greater threats to global food security," concluded Hernandez

For more information:
Von Hernandez, Campaigns Director, Greenpeace South East Asia, Mob:
Benedikt Haerlin, Co-ordinator, Greenpeace International Genetic
Engineering Campaign, Tel: +493030889912.

In Mexico City, Raul Benet, Executive Director of Greenpeace Mexico,
Mob: +5273289629, Tel: +5285905645;
Greenpeace Mexico Press Office, Cecilia Navarro, Mob: +52 73289629;

Greenpeace International Press Office, Teresa Merilainen, Tel:

More information on http://www.greenpeace.org

Notes to the editors:

(1) OECD Development Assistance Committee, , 2001 Official Commitments
(or Disbursements) by Sector (Table 5) (Bilateral & Regional Banks), at

(2) A study commissioned to Prof. Jules Pretty by Greenpeace Germany and
Bread for the World, and supported by the UK Development agency recently
presented more than 200 cases all over the world that showed sustainable
and productive farming practices are possible in the most different
environments. The report is available at:

A recent case of contamination of food with a potentially allergenic
corn variety in the United States illustrates the inadequacy of risk
management tools available in this country. Despite spending hundreds of
millions of dollars, the GE-company, who caused the contamination,
recently admitted that it was unable to fully recall their "Starlink"
corn and that it had contaminated up to 20% of the entire corn
production of the USA. In Europe there is a moratorium on any new
commercial GMO releases as member states deem the present safety system

(4 ) The single most important obstacle to proper access to these
technologies are Intellectual Property Rights, which are designed to
allow private property claims over single traits of varieties as well as
entire plants and animals. Companies like Monsanto, Sygenta, Aventis or
DuPont are carefully constructing and tighter and tighter net of
dependency and total control not only over genetically engineered
organisms but ultimately over any useful genetic traits and varieties,
thus usurping the common heritage of global diversity, most of which is
located in developing countries.