From the podium

From the podium

Ms Alice De Cruz (Consumers International)

Consumers International calls on the World Food Summit to recognize the importance of consumer rights in ensuring safe food for all. Consumers International believes that the active participation of consumer groups and other key stakeholders in the planning and delivery of food systems, programmes and policies, is integral to finding long-term solutions to food insecurity. Effective consumer representation ensures that the needs of all people are taken into account in the formation of policies that directly affect their lives. There are three main areas relevant to the goals of this meeting where consumers can play a crucial role: food security, food safety and biotechnology.

Consumers International and its members recognize that the use of biotechnology and other new food technologies may provide important benefits; however, new technologies have raised many valid concerns for consumers about safety for human consumption, implications for the environment and potential social and economic impact. Consumers' confidence in biotechnology is crucial if the outcome is to be credible and accepted by consumers. With this in mind, Consumers International believes governments should prohibit the use of patents on life forms, require full premarket evaluation and social and safety impact assessment of genetically modified food and the production of other new food technologies, and impose a moratorium on the cultivation and marketing of new GM foods until this is done. They should also desist from any attempts to intimidate other governments which restrict or prohibit such products, based on their laws and evaluation of risk and benefit, require clear and explicit labelling of GM foods and also tackle the power of transnational cooperation in food production and distribution.

Food safety is a critical public health issue, and consumers must be protected against food and food production processes which are hazardous to health and life. To protect consumers against unsafe foods that threaten life or health, Consumers International calls for governments to assure access to clean and potable water and sanitation for all; support the development of national food control systems which are in line with international norms, both in the interest of local consumers and to facilitate participation in international food markets; apply the precautionary principle in the setting of food safety standards where the scientific evidence is not conclusive; put in place strict controls to prevent the dumping of poor quality food under the guise of food aid to developing countries; and improve consumers' participation in the setting of global food safety standards in the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
Thank you very much.

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