FAO's Biotech Meeting Dubbed “Biased for Business” as Steering Committee Member Resigns in Protest

On the eve of a major intergovernmental conference on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries (ABDC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, a civil society member of the international steering committee has resigned, calling the preparations for the gathering of governments and scientists “hopelessly biased” and “foolishly sidestepping key socioeconomic and scientific issues.”

Pat Mooney, Executive Director of ETC Group, a Canada-based international civil society organization with a long history of work with FAO and biotechnology issues, resigned from the steering committee on Tuesday, February 23, 2010. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization conference, hosted by Mexico, runs from March 1- 4 in Guadalajara.

“The overwhelming thrust of the guiding documents for the meeting are hopelessly biased in favour of biotechnology and skewed to persuade developing countries that they have no option but to climb on the biotech bandwagon. It's unacceptable that a supposedly neutral inter-governmental body like FAO would allow itself to be turned into a billboard for Big Biotech,” Mooney says. “The organizers of the ABDC don’t seem to know the ABCs of how to run a conference where different points of view can get a fair hearing. The precautionary principle (related to human and environmental impacts) is almost ignored. The oligopolistic nature of the biotech seed industry – where four companies control global seed sales – is not addressed. And although the background documents mention problems related to biotech patent monopolies, they conclude that the global South has no choice but to surrender. There is no serious discussion about the enormous opportunity cost of developing genetically modified crops compared to conventional plant breeding.”

 

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