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24 Aug 2021

Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity & others

Africa: CSOs claim draft continental guidelines on biotechnology promote agribusinesses & undermine food security

"African social movements demand that AU suspends undemocratic and pro-industry seed and GMO guidelines and processes"

For over two decades, and in defence of life and democracy, diverse constituencies in Africa have promoted the rights of small farmers and their seed systems, and have expressed and continue to express concern related to the use and governance of modern biotechnology on the continent. We include smallholder farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk, hunter/gatherers, indigenous peoples, citizens, environmentalists, scientists, and cooperative civil society mechanisms. All are legitimate rights holders on the continent, of whom the African Union (AU) is supposed to be a representative mechanism.

We, the undersigned, are therefore dismayed and angered at the way in which the African Union’s Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, now the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Development, has proceeded with the development and planned validation of two sets of guidelines related to our food and seed systems – Continental Guidelines for the Use of Biotechnology to Enhance Agricultural Productivity for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa (Draft Report) and Development of Continental Guidelines for the Harmonisation of Seed Regulatory Frameworks in Africa (Draft Report)...

Firstly, the process around them has been utterly undemocratic. In the case of the draft biotechnology guidelines, despite historical input and active efforts to engage by representative CSO bodies in a number of ongoing AU processes, there has been no effort to include key interest groups in this particular and controversial sector...Secondly, the guidelines do not reflect the needs of the African continent, smallholders and ecologies, and are blind to the real solutions that exist.