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People’s Food Policy Calls for GM Phase-Out
From “Resetting the Table: A People’s Food Policy for Canada” which is the result of a collaborative process in which hundreds of people devoted thousands of volunteer hours to create a food policy that genuinely reflects the perspectives of people across the country.
- Democratize science and technology policy and integrate the precautionary principle into all stages of decision-making.
- Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMOs) are living pollution that self-replicate. They cannot be recalled or controlled once they have been released and can spread and interbreed with other organisms, thereby contaminating ecosystems and affecting future generations in unforeseeable and uncontrollable ways. Genetically- Modified (GM) crops threaten agro-biodiversity which is fundamental to global food security, as well as threaten the future of organic food and farming through contamination. Existing GM crops should be phased out and there should be no further approvals of GM crops and animals. A just transition process, including financial and technical support, needs to be established to assist farmers to shift back to non-GM seed sources and to adopt ecological agriculture practices.
- The power over seeds, and potentially breeds, represented by monopoly control has become a mechanism for transferring wealth from farmers and rural communities into the hands of corporations and their shareholders. Canada’s patent legislation should be amended to explicitly disallow the patenting of life, including living organisms and genetic sequences.
- Protect and support the open and free sharing of non- transgenic seeds and breeds as a fundamental practice of agriculture.
- Establish a national ban on “terminator” technology and actively support the existing international ban at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
Science and Technology for Food and Agriculture
Challenges: Our food system is based on thousands of years of knowledge and innovation by indigenous peoples, farmers, fishers, and cooks. This rich and diverse knowledge is being marginalized as risky technologies facilitate greater concentration, industrialization and industry control in food and farming. Potential threats (often originally introduced as technological fixes for problems caused by previous technologies) range from the more widely-known platforms of synthetic chemicals and genetic engineering to the emerging applications of nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and climate engineering technologies. These are occurring in the context of a global land grab to feed biomass-intensive “green” technologies, and at the expense of food production and ecosystem health. The parallel erosion of biodiversity and community resilience severely undermines people’s capacity to strengthen local food systems, as well as respond to the increasing challenges posed by climate change.
Ways Forward: Decision-making processes regarding science and technology need to be democratized and guided by precaution and common interest if we are to strengthen our ability to feed ourselves, ensure sustainable livelihoods, and protect biodiversity and healthy ecosystems into the future. ‘Science’ should be acknowledged as including all forms of useful knowledge (codified and tacit) coming from diverse forms of learning and practice including indigenous and farmer knowledge and people’s everyday experience of food. By helping to strengthen and expand ecological agriculture, science and technology can play a particularly positive role in facing present and future challenges in food and agriculture.