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26 November 2002



Consumers International press release

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PRESS RELEASE: African consumer leaders adopt a critical position with respect to GMOs and their implications for food security in the region

Publication date: 26/11/2002

November 20 - Lusaka, Zambia - African Consumer Leaders from 20 organizations in 20 African countries, gathered in Lusaka, Zambia from 18-20 November 2002, at the African Consumer Leaders' Conference on Biotechnology and Food Security, organized by Consumers International Regional Office for Africa, and hosted by the Zambia Consumer Association (ZACA), have today, announced their formal positions on the issue of GMOs and Food Security in Africa.

The full declaration has been dubbed the Lusaka Declaration. The position taken by the consumer leaders on GMOs and food security include:

. All stakeholders have the obligation to guarantee full sovereignty and food security.
· Consumers have the right to choose the food they want to eat and pursue such choices based on their own tastes and convictions, be they religious, cultural, environmental, animal welfare or ethical considerations, and that such decisions must be respected and that consumers must be facilitated to make such decisions through transparent and full disclosure of all relevant and factual information.
· GM technology is not a solution for food security in Africa, including the small Islands States
· The problems of food security in Africa encompasses a broad range of issues such as: distribution, maximization of existing resources low-tech alternatives
· African countries can address food security through maximizing existing resources, tackling distribution problems; promoting local foods which are low-tech and highly resistant
· The documented cases of environmental risks indicate that the adoption of GM technologies places bio-diversity in the region at risk
· Consumer leaders are opposed to intellectual property rights on genetic resources for food and agriculture because they do not serve the consumer.
Consumer leaders call on national governments to:
· Enact and implementation of full comprehensive labeling laws; to ensure adequate safety testing of GM foods (domestically produced and imported)

· Effectively and explicitly integrate bio-ethics and other legitimate factors in all food policy instruments at the national, regional and international levels, including on national bio-safety committees and food standards organizations;
· Set up a bio-ethics commission to deal with research on biotechnology;
· Set up a risk monitoring body to study the impact of applying innovation in agriculture with respect to the rights and interest of consumers, which include access, choice and bio-diversity;
· Set up a commission and independent audit on the socio-economic impacts of biotechnology in Africa;
· Act in accordance with precautionary principles;
· Adhere to agreements regarding prior informed consent (re: food donations);
· Adopt national and regional regulatory frameworks regarding the introduction of GM seeds and foods;
· Ratify and implement relevant treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, universal Declaration of Human Genome and Human Rights, UN guidelines for consumer protection and sustainable consumption and the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety;
· Include consumer organizations in the drafting and/or revisions of consumer protection legislations on GMOs focusing on regional organizations and programmes like AU, NEPAD, ECOWAS, COMESA and SADC;
· Adopt, on the national level, the Organisation of African Unity's (OAU) draft model law on GMOs;
. Reject private intellectual property rights on genetic resources for food and agriculture and to pursue an alternative that ensures that these resources are in the public domain where consumers and the community have access to theses biotechnological innovations

The consumer leaders also called for:

·The integrity, impartiality and transparency in the national food regulatory and knowledge-generating bodies to be restored;  ·Immediate positive labeling of all foods derived from, or containing derivatives of biotechnology be they for relief of for sale;  ·Industry to immediately stop their unethical influence on critical policy and decision-making instruments and processes on biotechnology either directly or indirectly;

These positions where developed after more than five plenary sessions where the 20 African consumer leaders where addressed by experts who support GMOs in agriculture and by experts who are against them. The consumer leaders drew their conclusions and formulated their own positions in a series of workshops which concluded on Wednesday 20 November 2002.

For further information and for copies of the full declaration, please contact Guy-Patrick Massoloka, Communications Officer for Consumers International Regional Office for Africa (CI-ROAF), on tel: (263-4) 30-2283; e-mail: ; or visit Consumer Internationals, Africa Office website:

Notes to the editor:
The following countries were represented by consume leaders attending the conference:
Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Links to Media Coverage:
International Conference Mulls Genetically Modified Organisms In Zambia
African consumers demand South Africa label GM foods

Maya Vaughan
Global Communications Co-ordinator
Head Office
Consumers International
24 Highbury Crescent
London N5 1RX, UK
tel: + 44 (0) 207-226-6663  ext 219
mobile: + 44 (0) 7931 798 086
fax: +44 (0) 207-354 0607
Consumers International is a federation of consumer organisations dedicated to the protection and promotion of consumers' rights worldwide through empowering national consumer groups and campaigning at the international level. It currently represents over 250 organisations in 115 countries. For more information, see:

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