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African Consumer Leaders Adopt Critical Position on GMOs and Their Implications for Food Security
November 20, 2002, Lusaka, Zambia - Leaders from 20 organizations in 20 African countries who gathered in Lusaka, Zambia November 18–20, 2002 for the African Consumer Leaders’ Conference on Biotechnology and Food Security announced their formal positions on the issue of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and food security in Africa.
The full declaration has been dubbed the Lusaka Declaration. The position taken by the consumer leaders on GMOs and food security include:
- All stakeholders have the obligation to guarantee full sovereignty and food security.
- Consumers have the right to choose the food they want to eat and pursue such choices based on their own tastes and convictions, be they religious, cultural, environmental, animal welfare or ethical considerations, and that such decisions must be respected and that consumers must be facilitated to make such decisions through transparent and full disclosure of all relevant and factual information.
- GM technology is not a solution for food security in Africa.
- African countries can address food security through maximizing existing resources, tackling distribution problems, and promoting local foods which are low-tech and highly resistant.
- The adoption of GM technologies places bio-diversity in the region at risk.
- Consumer leaders are opposed to intellectual property rights on genetic resources for food and agriculture because they do not serve the consumer.
Consumer leaders call on national governments to:
- Enact and implement comprehensive labeling laws;
- Ensure adequate safety testing of GM foods (domestically produced and imported);
- Integrate bio-ethics and other legitimate factors in all food policy instruments at the national, regional and international levels, including on national bio-safety committees and food standards organizations;
- Set up a bio-ethics commission to deal with research on biotechnology;
- Set up a risk monitoring body to study the impact of applying innovation in agriculture with respect to the rights and interest of consumers, which include access, choice and bio-diversity;
- Set up a commission and independent audit on the socio-economic impacts of biotechnology in Africa;
- Act in accordance with precautionary principles;
- Adhere to agreements regarding prior informed consent (re: food donations);
- Adopt national and regional regulatory frameworks regarding the introduction of GM seeds and foods;
- Ratify and implement relevant treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Universal Declaration of Human Genome and Human Rights, UN guidelines for consumer protection and sustainable consumption, and the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety;
- Include consumer organizations in the drafting and/or revisions of consumer protection legislations;
- Adopt, on the national level, the Organization of African Unity’s (OAU) draft model law on GMOs; and
- Reject private intellectual property rights on genetic resources for food and agriculture and pursue an alternative that ensures that these resources are in the public domain.
These positions were developed after more than five plenary sessions where the 20 African consumer leaders were addressed by experts who support GMOs in agriculture and by experts against them.
For further information and for copies of the full declaration, visit the Consumer Internationals, Africa Office website: www.consumersinternational.org
The following countries were represented at the conference: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
[18 apr 03]