[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: 02 June 2003 13:45
To: '[email protected]'
Subject: 89: Re: Regulations in developing nations should be rigourous for some more time
I want to make mine the opinion of E.M. Muralidharan from India (Message 88, May 31).
Studying various cases on GMOs release around the world and the necessity of regulation for GMOs, a balance between prevention and use seem to be necessary in this case. Prevention for any misuse or uncontrollable effect of GMOs release (like in the maize case in Mexico) but giving the opportunity to GMOs to fulfill the requirement for food that developing countries need. Criticisms, scientific, legal and social, should be addressed. Policy makers need to address food security of countries but they cannot open the door to contamination or human insecurity.
Thank you very much for all your interesting opinions.
Sergio Pena-Neira, M.A
United Nations University/Institute of Advanced Studies
53-67 Jingumae 5-chome
Tel: +81-3-5467-5543; 2322 room 307
Fax : +81-3-5467-2324
pena-neira (at) ias.unu.edu
In the Netherlands (after 31.07.2003):
NL-3508 TC Utrecht
S.Pena-Neira (at) geog.uu.nl
Sent: 02 June 2003 13:46
To: '[email protected]'
Subject: 90: Codex - CGIAR
I am Olusanya Olutogun from Nigeria again.
It is apparent from many of the discussions so far that the cost associated with the use of GMOs in developing countries, in terms of funding and human resources, will not be available to benefit resource-poor farmers. Consequently, a global regulatory mechanism such as the Codex Alimentarius of the FAO and some regional centres linked to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) centers should be adequate if these farmers are to benefit from this scientific breakthrough for mankind. It is hoped that after the signing of the Codex by the countries, the CGIAR centres will begin to act to help the developing countries.
Olusanya Olutogun, Ph.D.
Department of Animal Science
University of Ibadan
E-mail: saolutogun (at) yahoo.co.uk
E-mail: olutogun (at) hotmail.com
Sent: 02 June 2003 13:48
To: '[email protected]'
Subject: 91: A single body for drafting and monitoring regulations
Here is Muhunthan Rajaratnam again.
It is very clear that setting up a biosafety and regulatory framework for developing nations is very essential. In the meantime, framing of such a regulation heavily involves a lot of expertise, financial and other resources, that cannot be easily met by a developing nation, where scarcity prevails in many areas.
I suggest that the regulatory framework should be drafted by a body that should comprise ministries and expertise working in the area of agriculture, forestry, livestock, health, nutrition, environment etc. Then only the framing of regulation will be with broader view and with lesser conflict. Many of the developing nations lack the resource of expertise in a particular field or they may need external consultation while drafting their own regulatory set up. The world body like FAO and other organisations could help the developing nations by providing expertise, advice and training.
Again, the regulation of GMOs, irrespective of their origin, should be monitored by one body, which comprises professionals from agriculture, forestry, livestock, health, nutrition, environment etc. I think this one monitoring body system could be best suited for a developing nation where infrastructure for communication is not so efficient in general, rather than different monitoring body systems for different aspects of GMOs, as later one would cause unprecedented delays in implementation of acts.
CSIRO Pant Industry (Bdg 1)
GPO Box 1600
Canberra, ACT 260, Australia
Email: muhunthan.rajaratnam (at) csiro.au
Sent: 02 June 2003 13:49
To: '[email protected]'
Subject: 92: Local contexts - Thailand
My name is Soraj Hongladarom; I teach philosophy at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand.
First of all my apologies for sending this in so late. I have been very busy with other things, though I have followed the discussions so far with great interest. Since I am a philosopher, my concern is naturally with the ethics of genetic engineering, and being a citizen of a so-called Third World country, I am also concerned with the inequality among nations and among what Huntington called 'civilizations'. Thus, for the question of how best to regulate research and development on genetic modification of organisms in Third World countries, I think that we in this discussion may have been involved a little too much with the technical details. What I would like to say is that, no matter what kind of regulatory schemes be put in place in the so-called Third World countries, those schemes need to be in accordance with the need for those countries to find a way to flourish and prosper in their own terms. The European countries famously decided to be more cautious about GMOs than the US; this seems to me to reflect the cultures and histories of the European countries, which are quite different from those of the US, and the differences among the two seem to be diverging more and more.
Hence, I think we tend to overgeneralize when we are talking about 'Third World' or 'transition' countries in general. Sure there are some common factors in these countries--that they are poor and so on. But, apart from this obvious point there is little common ground. Thailand is trying very hard to push up its scientific and technological standards, and the government, through the Ministry of Science, is giving away more money than in the past (which is still very little comparatively) to research groups focusing on biotech issues. Meanwhile, many NGOs are very vocal against the technology, and another government agency, the Ministry of Agriculture, is toeing the line of these NGOs, fearing that allowing GMOs to propagate in the open would endanger the country's trade prospects. So these two groups are fighting each other at the moment. To put it simply, one Ministry is pushing for more research on GMOs, while the other is trying to put a damper on it.
My view is that, for any regulatory scheme that is going to be enforced, it has to pay a lot of attention to the particularities of the contexts. For Thailand, sure such a global discussion forum as this one is very important, but this can be only a starting point. And the dirty details have to be worked out in the local contexts. For example, what should Thailand do in this case? What should the country do given the fact that two government agencies are going in apparently opposite directions on the same issue?
One way to break free from this dilemma is perhaps to search for ways to achieve whatever objectives GMOs were designed to achieve, but without relying on the GMOs themselves. For example, vitamin A deficiency in rural population can also be cured by adding more variety to their diet, or perhaps more efficiently by improving their economic conditions so that they can afford to buy more and better food. In this case, proponents of GMOs will be happy, because they can realize their objectives in designing the technology in the first place, and opponents will also be happy because there will be no GMOs.
Department of Philosophy
Faculty of Arts
Tel. ++66(0)22 18 47 56 Fax ++66(0)22 18 47 55
hsoraj (at) chula.ac.th
Sent: 02 June 2003 13:50
To: '[email protected]'
Subject: 93: Regulating to protect choice
This is Tracey McCowen from Canada again.
Dr. Muralidaran (Message 88, May 31) writes: "In a developed country the implementation of regulations can be ensured to a much greater extent." This may be the perception, but last year two-thirds of US farmers growing Bt crops did not know the correct size or refuge shape. It is one thing to have regulations, but quite another to have the ability to enforce them.
This leads me to the question of choice, how does one regulate in order to protect choice? I am not sure how important the concept of choice (or freedom) is in some countries where mere survival is a struggle. However, in many countries freedom of expression or self determination constitutional rights. Individuals are allowed to observe and live by certain cultural standards and can opt out of technologies. For instance, Jews are not forced to eat pork, and pork products must be labeled as such so that Jews can identify which products contain pork ingredients and can avoid them. Whether it is dangerous to eat pork is not the issue. Other cultural communities, such as the Amish and Mennonites, are allowed to live a pre-industrial existence, despite the world around them being completely mechanized. Furthermore, Jehovah Witnesses' are allowed to refuse blood transfusions even though they may die without the treatment.
At present, in most "over-developed" countries individuals can opt out of GM technology by consuming organic or by growing their own food. There is no scientific evidence to show that this practice will work indefinitely due to genetic pollution, but for now it offers a choice. As previously stated, I cannot presume to know how important the right to individual freedom is in developing counties where there are large populations in dire positions.
In an earlier message from Zambia [by Tamala Tonga Kambikambi, Message 31, May 7..Moderator] it was pointed out that GM food aid was refused because there was not legislation to deal with it. This is a national policy, but how will developing counties such as Zambia deal with other nations' national policies? On May 15 2003 the US Congress amended the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, by including a new provision, section 104A, which links food and medical aid. Thus, if a developing country accepts medical aid it must also accept the food aid attached to it whether it is genetically modified or not. Therefore, it is not just a matter of how developing and transitional nations decide how to regulate GM crops, but also how foreign assistance policies affect those developing and transitional nations that need assistance to combat HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.
One last thing before the conference ends that might be of use to those developing regulations in transitional and developing nations. Patent royalties may be waived for the poorest of developing nations, but I am sure that, like debt forgiveness, many marginalized nations will still be strapped with burden. Although I don't know any of the details, I do know that Canada has worked out a drug program that makes pharmaceutical drugs in Canada much cheaper than in the USA. Perhaps those exploring regulatory structures would do well to examine the way Canada views drug patents vs. the way the USA does.
Thanks to all contributors and the moderator for making this discussion possible.
Tracey McCowen MBE
1314 King-Vaughan Rd
Maple, ON L6A 2A5
tmccowen (at) yahoo.com