ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

5 November 2002


Yesterday we reported how the world's biggest biotech corporation, Syngenta, had set up a blueprint for countries in the developing and developed world to follow in their regulation of GM crops via a Syngenta financed workshop on this issue in India. This Syngenta coup followed on from their financing of a special supplement in the prestigious science journal Nature containing multiple articles promoting GM crops and attacking organic agriculture by an avid biotech supporter.

Below AgBioIndia reports on how the Syngenta Foundation has now become a member of the governing body of the international agricultural research centres whose mandate is "to produce public goods for the benefit of poor agricultural producers in developing countries and to safeguard the genetic resources taken from farmers' fields and held in public trust by the CGIAR gene banks."

If anyone was wondering why over a thousand Third World farmers were protesting outside the CGIAR meeting....

AgBioIndia Mailing List
05 November 2002

Subject: CGIAR openly adopts corporate agenda

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) - the governing body of the international agricultural research centres -- has for all practical purposes re-christened itself. It has unabashedly adopted the corporate research agenda and has announced Syngenta Foundation as a new member thereby unashamedly accepting that it ceases to follow the original mandate of conducting agricultural research for 'public good'.

CG(I)AR, as we view it, now stands for: 'Consultative Group on (Industrial) Agricultural Research'.

At its 32nd Annual General Meeting (AGM02) that was held at Makati Shangri-La in Manila from Oct 30-Nov 1, and the first to be held outside Washington DC, the CGIAR chair, Ian Johnson, who also is a vice chair of the World Bank, did not even blink his eyelids for once while annoucing the names of four new members -- Malaysia, Morocco, Israel and Syngenta Foundation. In fact, the addition of the new members was not even discussed at the the Executive Committee and nor were any other committees informed as a matter of courtesy.

The CGIAR's NGO Committee, however, refused to tow the official line that expresses complete faith in biotechnology. The NGO Committee is convinced that the CGIAR has deviated from its path of 'public good' and is now completely in the fold of the industry (as well as the World Bank). It has therefore decided to freeze its relationship with the CGIAR pending a review of its research agenda. We know, following the World Bank strategy, the CGIAR will now try to dismiss the NGO Committee and form another committee with 'pliable' members.

If the CGIAR is to take on board Syngenta Foundation, we would like to know the relevance of the public exchequer funding international agricultural research? Why should the tax-payers money go to support the research agenda of the multinational corporations? If that be so, why can't we dismantle CGIAR and handover the 16 international research centres to the host governments? We have nothing against the MNCs involvement with genetic engineering. But why should we pay the CGIAR for following the private industry's research agenda?

We bring you below the NGOC Statement. Also attached is the unity statement of the Philippine farmers and the NGOs who had assembled and demonstrated at Shangri-La, Manila and also in front of IRRI at Los Banos.


1. NGO Committee Statement
2. Unity Statement of the Peoples' Street Conference

1.NGO Committee Statement
30 October 2002

Statement by the NGO Committee of the CGIAR

The NGO Committee of the CGIAR held its biannual meeting in Manila in advance of AGM02.

In this review of the activities of the CGIAR, the committee recognised the efforts made to open spaces for Civil Society interaction and partnerships at Centre and System levels and appreciated the efforts by a number of Centres to strengthen integrated natural resources management programmes. However, it became clear, in this review of the current trends in the CGIAR, that civil society expectations of the System as a whole in fulfilment of its mandate, are not being realised.

The CGIAR mandate is to produce public goods for the benefit of poor agricultural producers in developing countries and to safeguard the genetic resources taken from farmers' fields and held in public trust by the CGIAR gene banks. The NGOC observes that the CGIAR is deviating from this mandate and is adopting a corporate agenda for agricultural research and development. CGIAR's consideration of Syngenta Foundation's membership is a clear indication of the trend towards the corporatisation of public agricultural research. Furthermore, the quest for partnerships with the private sector undermines the public role of CGIAR.

The NGOC notes that the CGIAR and its Centres have:

Failed to support an immediate moratorium on the release of GM crops in their centres of origin and diversity in the light of GMO contamination in Mexico and the potential contamination of other centres in the years ahead. These GMOs include seeds, grains and food aid. The CGIAR has also failed to initiate scientific work to assess the risks and biosafety requirements necessary to protect the genetic integrity of landraces on-farm, their ownership and the livelihoods of resource-poor farmers in these areas.

Failed to uphold, in the face of threats of increased private control and monopolisation of genes through IPRs, the principle of the FAO-CGIAR Trust agreement that requires all germplasm and its genetic parts and components, currently in the CGIAR gene banks to be kept in the public domain.

Actively been promoting genetic engineering technologies and products, which are incompatible with farmer-led agroecological research, and will lead to further marginalisation of farming communities. The CGIAR and some Centres have been promoting biotechnology as the answer to world hunger.

The NGOC urges the CGIAR to listen to and take seriously the voices from the Peoples' Street Conference. NGOC calls on the CGIAR to respond positively to the demands in Unity Statement which we support, especially with reference to those points that reinforce CSO Declaration for Durban with its comprehensive set of proposals that was presented to MTM 2001.

That Declaration emphasised the need for transforming the CGIAR Centres into regional research support systems to assist farmer-led agroecological research and the need for safeguarding the genetic resources in the CGIAR gene banks. These should be the top two priorities of the CGIAR. We regret that the majority of programmes being developed through the Challenge Programme process are not reflecting these priorities.

In the light of these concerns the NGOC, in dialogue with a wide range of Civil Society Organisations including those in Manila this week, is reassessing its relationship with the CGIAR.

[Statement also endorsed by Abou Thiam, Assetou Kanoute, Devinder Sharma, Dwi Muhtaman, Eyasu Elias, Mariam Jorjadze]

2. Unity Statement of the Peoples' Street Conference

30 October 2002

We, the farmers, representatives of farmers organizations, peoples' movements and civil society from throughout the Philippines and around the world who gather here for the People's Street Conference against the Annual General Meeting of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) uphold this statement of unity.

The Street Conference is an independent initiative to claim space for critiques of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and for the presentation of alternatives.

The CGIAR, including the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), has consistently failed to meet the needs of poor farmers throughout the world. From the start of the Green Revolution, the research centers of the CGIAR have promoted a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to research that ignores the knowledge and experience of farmers, farming communities, and indigenous people. The agriculture promoted by the CGIAR, with its dependence on pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals, is environmentally and socially unsustainable. Farmers have been plunged into debt, their health and the health of their families has suffered, their knowledge, culture and social systems have been exploited, and the agro-environment of their farms has been severely degraded.

Despite decades of effort by civil society, by farmers and farming communities both requesting and demanding reform of the system, the CGIAR has shown itself unable or unwilling to reform. Despite participation in conferences, on committees, writing papers, and letters, despite interviews, speeches, briefings and meetings, by millions of farmers throughout the world, we do not see any significant change in the CGIAR approach. For this reason we are forced to take to the streets.

The following issues are of particular concern to us:

1. Accountability and governance: The CGIAR has never been accountable to whom it claims to serve. This is reflected in itsgovernance structure which is fundamentally controlled by four rich countries of the North. It has never attempted to solve its problems of accountability and continues to refuse attempts to genuinely involve farmers' organizations in its decision-making processes.

2. The Green Revolution to the Gene Revolution: The Green Revolution continues to cause immense damage. Far from learning from the mistakes of the Green Revolution, the CGIAR are frantically chasing the tail of the latest mythological 'one-technology-fixes-all:' genetic engineering. GMOs are associated with genetic privatization through patenting and IPR; genetic contamination; market rejection; threats to farmers' rights through increasing monopolization in agriculture; negative health effects; environmental damage, and a deepening of the structural inequalities between rich and poor. The failure of the CGIAR to defend genetic diversity in the light of contamination is disgraceful.

3. Trusteeship and biopiracy: The inability of the CGIAR to protect material it holds in its genebanks from biopiracy is a betrayal of the trust of farmers and farming communities. The FAO-CGIAR trust agreement has been handled inadequately and must be fundamentally restructured. Germplasm, its components and derivatives must be kept free of intellectual property control.

4. Worker health and safety: The relationship between CGIAR centers and the national workforces facilitates exploitation including, in some instances, immunity from national labor laws. Illness and death of workers, contractualization of labor, unfair dismissals and worker harassment result. Workers have the right to stable, ongoing, safe employment with adequate remuneration protected by national and international law.

5. Business as usual: The ever strengthening links with the private sector and capitulation to private sector values and agendas brings into question the independence and integrity of the CGIAR. The stated aims of corporations (to make money) and the CGIAR (supposedly to increase food security) are completely different. Biopiracy, the undermining of public-oriented research agendas and a continuing flow of knowledge and resources from the South to the North are the result.

6. The CGIAR have grossly failed to recognize and enforce farmers' rights despite their rhetoric.

The CGIAR has shown itself to be unable to change. The use of nice language and pro-farmer rhetoric to clothe the same unsustainable approach does not constitute change. For this reason and the reasons listed above, the Peoples' Street Conference calls for a dismantling of the current international agricultural research system and the reorientation of public funds into responsive, pro-poor, pro-farmer, sustainable approaches.

New models of agricultural research: The work of many of the farmers, Peoples' Organizations and NGOs attending this street conference is illustrative of the wide range of farmer-centered research that is being pursued throughout the world including farmer-breeding initiatives, participative research, and the maintenance and development of community knowledge. Farmer-led and farmer-oriented approaches, however, are chronically underfunded, unsupported and marginalized by the mainstream approach to research.

Call to action:

It is imperative that agricultural research is farmer-centered, farmer-led, pro-poor, and rooted in the principle of farmers rights, genuine land reform and food sovereignty. Alternatives to the a mainstream approach to agriculture must be strengthened and developed.

Funding for socially and environmentally sustainable agriculture must be strengthened.  We call upon donors to reorient their funding from research on GMOs, hybrids and other damaging techno-fixes to agro-ecological, farmer led approaches.

Public research on agriculture must be maintained free from the influence (direct and indirect) of profit-oriented private companies.  We call on all the international scientific community to join farmers in conducting farmer-led, farmer-oriented participatory research.

We demand that there be no patents on life or any kind of intellectual property. The international scientific community must join peoples' movements in explicitly rejecting patents on life, and in proactively protecting plants, animals and agricultural processes from patents and other forms of IPR.

The international research community must work to ensure adherence to human rights, and labor rights in accordance with all national and international laws.

None of these demands can be achieved without the full implementation of farmers' rights at national and international levels. The international research establishment must recognize and advance farmers' rights in all its policies and actions.

The current system of international agricultural research, particularly the CGIAR, has blighted the development of responsible public science by diverting resources and subverting knowledge, technologies and agendas. There has been a stifling of creativity, a marginalization of farmer science and a tragic narrowing of analysis and goals of research. We call upon ourselves, the international scientific community, donors, and governments to start anew in agricultural research.

Uphold People's Control on Agriculture! Assert Farmer-centered Agricultural Research and Systems!


1. Peasant Movement of the Philippines/KMP
2. La Via Campesina
3. Genetic Resources Action International Network/GRAIN
4. Farmers-Scientist Partnership for Development of Agriculture/MASIPAG (Philippines)
5. International Alliance Against Agrochemical TNCs /IAAATNCs
6. Advocates of Science and Technology for the People/AGHAM (Philippines)
7. Alliance of Farmers in Cordillera/APIT-TAKO (Philippines)
8. Assembly of the Poor (Thailand)
9. BIOTHAI (Thailand)
10. Brotherhood of IRRI Support Services Group/BISSIG (Philippines)
11. CEDAC (Cambodia)
12. Center for Environmental Concerns/CEC (Philippines)
13. South East Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment/SEARICE
14. Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya/SIBAT (Philippines)
15. EL KANA (Georgia)
16. Erosion, Technology, Corporation Group/ETC Group (Canada)
17. Forum for Bio-technology and Food Security (India)
18. Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development /IOHSAD (Philippines)
19. Patrick Mulvany, ITDG (United Kingdom)
20. Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Philippines)
21. LATIN (Indonesia)
22. Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific/PAN Asia Pacific
23. RRAFA (Thailand)
24. Peasant Movement of the Philippines-Cebu/KMP Cebu (Philippines)
25. Alliance of Farmers in Central Luzon/AMGL (Philippines)
26. Alliance of Farmers in Isabela//DAGAMI (Philippines)
27. Pesticide Action Network Indonesia/PAN Indonesia
28. Health Alliance for Democracy/HEAD (Philippines)
29. Rural Missionaries of the Philippines/RMP (Philippines)
30. National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates/NNARA (Philippines)
31. National Fisherfolk Movement/PAMALAKAYA (Philippines)
32. Center for Genuine Agrarian Reform/SENTRA (Philippines)
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