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Let Nature's Harvest Continue

29 June 2000

African Counter-Statement to Monsanto

An invitation to stand in solidarity to resist gene technology From Delegates to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Plant Genetic Resources

During the past few weeks, European citizens have been exposed to an aggressive publicity campaign in major European newspapers trying to convince the reader that the world needs genetic engineering to feed the hungry. Organised and financed by Monsanto, one of the worlds biggest chemical companies, this campaign gives a totally distorted and misleading picture of the potential of genetic engineering to feed developing countries.

We, the undersigned delegates of African countries negotiating at the FAO on farmers rights, access and benefit-sharing, strongly object that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environment friendly nor economically beneficial to us.

It is time to look at some of the facts about the company behind this campaign. Monsanto is one of the world's largest pesticide companies. During the past two years only it spent over US$ 6000 million to take control over other seed and biotechnology companies and is now the major industrial player in this field. Its major focus is not to protect the environment, but to develop crops that can resist higher doses of its best-selling chemical weed killer 'Roundup'.

Rather than stretching a helping hand to farmers, Monsanto threatens them with lawsuits and jail. In the USA, the company employs tactics to find and bring to court those farmers that save Monsanto soybean seeds for next year's planting. Backed by patent law, the company demands the right to inspect the farmers' fields to check whether they practise agriculture according to Monsanto conditions and with Monsanto chemicals.

Rather than developing technology that feeds the world, Monsanto uses genetic engineering to stop farmers from replanting seed and further develop their agricultural systems. It has spent US$ 18000 million to buy a company owning a patent on what has become known as "Terminator Technology" seed that can be planted only once and dies in the second generation. The only aim of this technology is to force farmers back to the Monsanto shop every year, and to destroy an age old practice of local seed saving that forms the basis of food security in our countries.

In the advertising campaign Europeans are asked to give an unconditional green light to gene technology so that chemical corporations such as Monsanto can start harvesting their profits from it. We do not believe that such companies or gene technologies will help our farmers to produce the food that is needed in the 21st century. On the contrary, we think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the sustainable agricultural systems that our farmers have developed for millennia and that it will thus undermine our capacity to feed ourselves.

In particular, we will not accept the use of "Terminator" or other gene technologies that kill the capacity of our farmers to grow the food we need. We invite European citizens and colleagues from the South to stand in solidarity with Africa in resisting these gene technologies so that our diverse and natural harvests can continue and grow.

We agree and accept that mutual help is needed to further improve agricultural production in our countries. We also believe that Western science can contribute to this. But it should be done on the basis of understanding and respect for what is already there. It should be building on local knowledge, rather than replacing and destroying it. And most importantly: it should address the real needs of our people, rather than serving only to swell the pockets and control of giant industrial corporations.

Jean-Marie Fondoun Cameroon Delegate
Georges A. Agbahungba Benin Delegate
Paul Therence Senghor Senegal Negotiator
Koffi Goti Cote d'Ivoire Delegate
Mokosa Madende Congo Democr. Delegate
Jean Jacques Rakotonalala Madagascar Delegate
Juvent Baramburiye Burundi Delegate
Worku Damena Ethiopia Delegate
Gietaturn Mulat Ethiopia Delegate
M.S. Harbi Sudan Delegate
Eltahir Irbrahim Mohamed Sudan Delegate
Maria A. Calane Da Silva Mozambique Delegate
Kohna Nganara Ngawara T Chad Delegate
Nkeoua Gregoire Congo Delegate
Mugorewera Drocella Rwanda Delegate
H. Yahia-Cafrif Alegria Delegate
Abebe Demissie Ethiopia Delegate
G. P. Mwila Zambia Senior Agricultural Officer
Dr. S. H. Raljtsogle Lesotho Director Research Department
Naceu Hamza Tunisia Delegate
Hambourne Mellas Morocco Delegate
Elizabeth Matos Angola Delegate
Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher Ethiopia African's Group Spokesperson
Shadrack Mlambo Zimbabwean Delegate

Additional Statement by Zimbabwean Delegate

Africa should not be used as a testing ground for technologies and products which have been developed elsewhere. We reserve our sovereign right to test these technologies ourselves, examine their effectiveness and compatibility to the environment our region.

Signed in support and solidarity by
Action Aid
Austrian Mountain Farmers Association
Baby Milk Action
Basque Farmers Union
Banana Link
Catholic Institute for International Relations Centro
Internazionale Crocevia
Coordination Paysanne Europeenne
Christian Aid
CSA (Comitato Scientifico Antivivisezionista).
Farmers Link
FIN (Fondo Imperatrice Nuda contro la Sperimentazione Animale)
Find Your Feet
Friends of the Earth
The Gaia Foundation
Genetic Resources Action International
Greenpeace International
The Green Party
The Green Party Agriculture and Food Working Group.
The Green Group of the European Parliament GEYSER organization, France
prof. Valeria Negri, Instituto di Miglioramento Genetico, Vegetale, prof. Egizia Falistocco, Instituto di Miglioramento Genetico Vegetale, prof. Luisa Lanfaloni, Instituto di Miglioramento Gentico Vegetale dr. Nicola Tosti, Instituto di Miglioramento Genetico Vegetale dr. Paola Taviani, Instituto di Miglioramento Genetico Vegetale dr. Fiorella Pimpinelli, Instituto di Miglioramento Genetico Vegetale Dr. Beatrix Tappeser, Institute for Applied Ecology, Frieburg Ecoropa The Pesticides Trust World Development Movement Women's Environmental Network WWF-Italy and Fulco Pratesi (president)

*** The web site where you can find the African statement condemning the Monsanto's "Let the Harvest Begin" campaign is ***

This message is distributed via the Africa Faith and Justice Network for the Advocacy Network for Africa (ADNA). Visit ADNA on the web at

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