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Carta abierta al Congreso de la Unión, México

Por el reconocimiento de los derechos indígenas

Estimados amigos y amigas,

En el día de ayer, una carta abierta de 14 "premios Nobel alternativos" (Premio (Right Livelihood y Premio Golman) fue entregada al Congreso de la Unión, México, pidiendo el reconocimiento constitucional de los derechos y cultura indígenas, que está actualmente debatiendo el tema.

También fue reseñada en un extenso artículo del diario La Jornada, el 22/3/20001.


Open Letter to Mexican Congress

RAFI requests signatories to an open letter in support of the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights in Mexico that has been sent to the Mexican Congress. Full text below:

Dear Friends,

Today, an open letter in support of the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights in Mexico has been sent to the Mexican Congress, which is currently discussing this issue, undersigned by 14 recipients of the Right Livelihood Award (sometimes referred to as the 'Alternative Nobel Prize') and the Goldman Prize.

The letter was published in a full-page presentation in La Jornada on Thursday, March 22,2001 on page 14: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2001/mar01/010322/014n1pol.html.


Bracing for 'El Nuña'

Andean Groups Hopping Mad About Popping-Bean Patent

Tales from a Tribunal: 'The nuña bean is part of the Andean heritage. It is our treasure. For a company to patent a nuña cross, claiming the 'bean-nut popping bean' as an 'invention' with absolute world novelty is immoral and violates the rights of all indigenous groups,' said Elias Carreno, Coordinator of the 'Stop Biopiracy in the Andes' Campaign of the Associaci n Kechua-Aymara for Sustainable Livelihoods, ANDES (translated from Spanish).

Indigenous elders from six Andean communities that grow nuna beans met in late February for a traditional Quechua 'tribunal' to deliberate on US Patent No. 6,040,503 on the 'bean-nut popping bean' awarded to a US food processor, Appropriate Engineering and Manufacturing. The popping bean trait is found only in the Andean nuna bean, which the inventors claim in their patent. After hearing testimony from expert witnesses, the tribunal rendered their decision. Their verdict was unflinching in its criticism of intellectual property monopolies that are predatory on the knowledge, rights and resources of indigenous people.

New Terminator Patent Goes to Syngenta

Wake-Up Call for CBD's Scientific Body Meeting in Montreal

World's Largest Agrochemical and Seed Enterprise Holds Growing Arsenal of Terminator and Traitor Technologies

Syngenta, the world's largest agribusiness firm, was formed on 13 November 2000 with the merger of AstraZeneca and Novartis. The next day the company won its newest Terminator patent, US Patent 6,147,282, 'Method of controlling the fertility of a plant.' (The patent was issued to Novartis - but the company's intellectual property goes to Syngenta.) With pro forma 1999 sales of US $7 billion, Syngenta is the world's largest agrochemical enterprise, and the third largest seed corporation.

Enola Bean Patent Challenged

'This patent has caused great economic hardship for farmers in northern Mexico, and we welcome attempts to overturn it,' said Miguel Tachna Felix, spokesman for the Agricultural Association of Rio Fuerte in Sinaloa, Mexico which represents 22,000 farmers in northern Mexico. Felix is referring to a legal challenge of a US patent on a yellow bean of Mexican origin.

RAFI and RAFI-USA Announce Plans of Name Change for Globally-focused RAFI

Twenty-three years old, one of the world's most experienced biodiversity/biotech advocacy organizations is broadening its focus and changing its name, the directors of RAFI and of RAFI-USA announced today.

Long history: RAFI and RAFI-USA staff have been working together for over 20 years. Work on agricultural genetic resources that began under the mandate of the International Coalition for Development Action (ICDA), a Brussels-based civil society organization (CSO), in 1977 quickly merged with similar work under the auspices of the Rural Advancement Fund in the southern United States and led to the formation of the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) as a Netherlands incorporated CSO in 1985. Although the international work began to be known as RAFI, the work was still under the auspices of the Rural Advancement Fund which fully supported the work through its staffing and fundraising efforts.

Comiendo con el enemigo

Al tiempo que los alimentos transgénicos fueron lanzados al mercado como "la solución al hambre en el mundo", la primera generación de transgénicos nos planteó la pregunta de si quienes hacían este anuncio pensaban que el mundo se podría alimentar de agrotóxicos. En efecto, pese a pomposas declaraciones tanto de la industria biotecnológica como de algunas academias de ciencias, más de 70 por ciento de los cultivos transgénicos sembrados hasta este año fueron modificados para ser resistentes a químicos de las propias compañías, aumentando el nivel de estos químicos tanto en el ambiente como en los residuos que permanecen en los alimentos. Más de 25 por ciento restante han sido "cultivos-insecticidas", manipulados usando hasta límites inimaginables algunas pocas cepas de una sola bacteria -el bacillus thuringiensis o Bt- lo cual, como era lógico, produjo en poco tiempo resistencia en los insectos que se suponía iba a combatir, creando necesidad de más químicos en lugar de lo contrario, como prometían las multinacionales que lo comercializan.

Seedy Squabble in Switzerland

As Washington tries to sort out what a 'plant' is, world food security is iced in Switzerland. Industry, Europe, Japan, and the G77 (developing) countries look on in amazement.

What 'grows' but doesn't 'move'? If you're an agronomist, the standard answer is a 'plant'. In Neuchatel, Switzerland last week however, at a tactically critical food security negotiation, the running joke was 'Washington trade policy'. As world seed and biotech industries, governments of Europe and Japan, and G77 (developing) countries watched in consternation, U.S. Government representatives tied themselves in knots trying to explain the difference to uninterested patent and trade lawyers back in their capitol, between plant genetic resources in agriculture from other industrial technologies. The U.S. delegation continuously raised what appeared to other delegations, to be nonsensical conflicts between the World Trade Organization (WTO) and an agreement being revised by governments in the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to safeguard the flow of crop germplasm for scientific research and international food security.

Seedy Solutions in Switzerland?

A Not-so-Thanksgiving Story

The Biosafety protocol on GM crops was a big thing in January, but the meeting about to begin in Neuchatel addresses a 'clear and present danger' to world food security. A brave little band of 'biocrats' could decide the fate of the scientific exchange of crop genetics. Their political bosses don't even know they've left town!

The Biosafety deal struck by governments in Montreal in January was intended to make the world safe from (or for?) transgenic crops. But what about the safety of those pedestrian seeds that are the basis for virtually all genetic crop improvement? The stuff that lets bio-engineers juggle genes and allows farmers to breed new diversity that can meet the stresses coming with global warming? Whereas the biosafety protocol tries to prevent the unwanted movement of GM seeds around the world, another treaty is being developed to facilitate the exchange of seeds for scientific research.