[For further information on the Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and
Agriculture see Forum website.
Note, participants are assumed to be speaking on their own behalf, unless they state otherwise.]
Sent: 08 February 2005 14:19
Subject: 85: The Cartagena Protocol and public participation
This is Edo Lin, independent consultant.
Several contributors to this conference have suggested that it is the big multinationals that drive the biotechnology agenda in developing countries. Although it is certainly true that multinational companies have a vested interest (and not to forget the influence of donor countries and agencies), I think it might be useful to mention the legitimate desire expressed by developing countries to have access to biotechnology by referring to Article 16 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which states (inter alia) that "Each Contracting Party, recognizing that technology includes biotechnology, and that both access to and transfer of technology among Contracting Parties are essential elements for the attainment of the objectives of this Convention, undertakes...". The CBD has now been ratified by 187 countries. (for the full text of the Convention see http://www.biodiv.org/convention/articles.asp).
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an outcome of the CBD and, as already discussed in the background document to the conference and in several messages, it obliges the Contracting Parties to create public awareness etc. The UK Institute for Development Studies (IDS) reviewed in 2002 the Public Participation and the Cartagena Protocol in 16 countries representing a variety of different political cultures, regulatory structures and social attitudes towards technology and participation. The full report or the case studies can be downloaded at http://www.ids.ac.uk/ids/env/biotech/pubsNBFs.html. One of the conclusions of the review is that promoting, consultation, participation and awareness raising requires taking into account the unique characteristics of each particular country's political, social and economic environment. These contextual factors will ultimately determine what is possible, realistic and desirable. This in particular means that it is vital to avoid the common mistake that particular policy models that appear to work well in one context may easily be imported or adopted in another setting. [The abstract of the report, by Glover, D. Keeley, J. Newell, P., McGee, R. et al., states "This commissioned report presents the findings of a review of the experience of different countries in fulfilling their obligations, under Article 23 of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, to promote and facilitate public awareness and participation in the design and implementation of their national biosafety regulatory frameworks. The main part of the report discusses lessons to be learned from previous experience of involving the public in development policy, drawing on examples from 'poverty reduction strategy processes' and processes to elaborate 'national strategies for sustainable development'. Part 2 of the report presents short case studies from sixteen countries, including both developed and developing countries and parties and non-parties to the Biosafety Protocol. The countries discussed are Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Namibia, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States and Zimbabwe"...Moderator].
309 rue de Bombon
e-mail: lin.edo (at) free.fr
Sent: 08 February 2005 14:29
Subject: 86: Views from Cuba
I am Ms Luis Plácido Ortega Izquierdo, head of projects in Augusto Cesar Sandino Cooperative in La Habana, Cuba. It is a cooperative of agricultural producers (190) growing mainly vegetables (8000 ton. a year) in over 700 ha. In our plans of development we are studying a large group of strategies which includes GM crops.
Unfortunately the amount of messages in growing into such a large number that it is getting very difficult to follow all of them. I think Michael Ferry and Sylvia Kosalko touched the most sensible points. In my opinion, politics and decision making should remain in goverments hands in each country, as far as they were appointed for this job by their voters. For this, of course, they should be capable of receiving the most accurate expert evaluation, and at the same time coordinating national strategies with global or international approaches. It absolutely does not mean that people, including farmers, should not be involved. I consider that people involvment requires in the first place an adequate education and an appropriate system of information (includes all possible ways, up to face-to-face if required) regarding the goverment decisions (and it not only refers to GMOs) and the criteria for it. Them the people, farmers or not, through their organizations could evaluate and judge how effectively their apointed have taken into acount their needs.
Luis Plácido Ortega Izquierdo Ms, MBA
Augusto Cesar Cooperative
Carretera La Salud, Km. 3 1/2.
San Antonio de los Baños.
email: cpaacsandino (at) sih.cu