Tag Archive: African Union

Grabbing Africa’s seeds: USAID, EU and Gates Foundation back agribusiness seed takeover

The latest salvo in the battle over Africa’s seed systems has been fired, writes Stephen Greenberg, with the Gates Foundation and USAID playing puppet-masters to Africa’s governments – now meeting in Addis Ababa – as they drive forward corporation-friendly seed regulations that exclude and marginalize the small farmers whose seeds and labour feed the continent.

 

More than 80% of Africa’s seed supply currently comes from millions of small-scale farmers recycling and exchanging seed from year to year. This seed meets very diverse needs in very diverse conditions.

A battle is currently being waged over Africa’s seed systems. After decades of neglect and weak investment in African agriculture, there is renewed interest in funding African agriculture.

These new investments take the form of philanthropic and international development aid as well as private investment funds. They are based on the potentially huge profitability of African agriculture – and seed systems are a key target.

Right now ministers are co-ordinating their next steps at the 34th COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) Intergovernmental Committee meeting that kicked off yesterday, 22nd March, in preparation for the main Summit that will follow on 30th and 31st March 2015.

COMESA’s key aim is

Do African Farmers Need CAADP?

The Peoples’ Dialogue and the Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE) have written a short booklet on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the African Union’s framework for agricultural development for Africa, titled ?Do African Farmers Need CAADP??

The objective is to summarise and simplify information on CAADP so as to, collectively, create awareness and discussion among small-scale/peasant farmers and the organisations that work with them, on the potential threats and implications for our various food sovereignty campaigns, as multinationals aim to penetrate and control agricultural policies and food and other agricultural production in Africa.

The direct link to the publication is: ?http://www.tcoe.org.za/downloads/general/80-tcoe-caadp.html

Modernising African Agriculture: Who benefits? Civil Society statement on the G8, AGRA and the African Union’s CAADP

African agriculture is in need of support and investment. Many initiatives are flowing from the North, including the G8?s ?New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa? and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). These initiatives are framed in terms of the African Union?s Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP). This gives them a cover of legitimacy. But what is driving these investments, and who is set to benefit from them?

This statement, signed by close to 60 organisations from 37 African countries, places these ?modernisation? initiatives in the context of the gathering global crisis with financial, economic, energy and ecological dimensions. It further calls upon these institutions to recognise the immense diversity found in African agriculture, and frame their responses accordingly.

Download the statements sent to AGRA, CAADP and the UK Government:

English CSO statement G8 AGRA CAADP to UK Government

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English CSO statement G8 AGRA CAADP to CAADP

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English CSO statement G8 AGRA CAADP to AGRA

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French CSO statement G8 AGRA CAADP to CAADP

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French CSO statement G8 AGRA CAADP to AGRA

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Portuguese CSO statement G8 AGRA CAADP to

G8 “Hunger Summit” initiative rejected by African civil society – Corporate takeover of agriculture & land will increase hunger, groups claim

At the heart of the leading initiatives to ?modernise? African agriculture is a drive to open markets and create space for multinationals to secure profits. Green revolution technologies ? and the legal and institutional changes being introduced to support them ? will benefit a few at the expense of the majority.

As world leaders gather at the high profile ?Hunger Summit? in London this week to endorse the spate of on-going initiatives to ?modernise? African agriculture, 57 farmer and civil society organisations from 37 countries across the continent have slammed these efforts as ?a new wave of colonialism?. Harmonisation, free trade and the creation of institutions and infrastructure to facilitate multinational companies’ penetration into Africa are presented as the answer to food insecurity on the continent. These large multinational seed, fertiliser and agrochemical companies are setting the agenda for the G8?s “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa”, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the implementation of the African Union?s Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).

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Portuguese

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African Civil Society calls on the African Union to ban genetically modified crops

An urgent appeal has been made to the African Union (AU) to discuss a ban on the cultivation, import and export of genetically modified (GM) crops in Africa at the next AU summit, to be held in January 2013. An African Civil Society Statement, signed by over 400 African organisations representing small-scale farmers, faith-based organisations, social movements, non-governmental organisations, organic producers, consumers, business people and ordinary citizens, has been sent to the Permanent Representative Council (PRC) of the AU. The statement was supported by a substantive document detailing the failure of GM technology to deliver any of its promised benefits since its global introduction some 16 years ago.

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The group pointed to a dire lack of safety data on GM foods and condemned the patenting of life and the privatisation of agriculture that is threatening to dispossess African food producers of control over their production systems. They have requested that African leaders address the issue at next year?s Summit, themed ?Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance?.

According to Ms. Elizabeth Mpofo, Chairperson of the East and Southern African Farmers Forum (ESAFF) and member of La Via Campesina, ?corporate-owned, genetically modified seed won?t solve any of our problems.

ACB condemnation for Comesa’s draconian free trade policy on GMOs

“The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has been handed a document of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)i titled ‘Draft Policy Statements and Guidelines for commercial plantings of GMOs, Trade in GMOs and Emergency Food aid with GMO content.” The Policy intends to undermine and displace more than a decade’s worth of international, regional and national biosafety policies and legislation by usurping the policy space of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Biosafety Protocol), regional policies on food aid and the sovereign rights of COMESA member states.

The Policy is due to be tabled at a COMESA meeting 12-17 July 2010 in Zambia.

According to ACB director Mariam Mayet “The Policy adopts an aggressive approach to the wholesale proliferation of GMOs on the African continent through a free trade agenda designed to create markets for commercial farmers in the US and South Africa.”

A small group of experts closely aligned to the biotechnology, seed and agrochemical industry, including those from South Africa has drafted the Policy behind closed doors. Stakeholders, particularly African small-scale farmers have been utterly excluded from the process, despite the fact that the Policy will have a major

Comments on COMESA’s Draft Policy on GMOs

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) was very recently handed a copy of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa‘s (COMESA) ‘Draft policy statements and guidelines for commercial planting of GMOs, Trade in GMOs and Emergency Food aid with GMO content’. Having perused the policy we are alarmed and outraged that COMESA appears to support the undermining and displacing of more than a decade’s worth of international, regional and national biosafety policies and legislation. It is the ACB‘s opinion that a small group of experts closely aligned to the Biotechnology, seed and agrochemical industry, frustrated by the lack of GMO adoption in African markets, drafted the policy behind closed doors. Stakeholders whose interests will be adversely affected by the far reaching proposals within the policy have been completely excluded from the process.

Further, it seeks to usurp the biosafety policy space of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (the pre-eminent international treaty on the cross border movement of GMOs), regional policies on food aid and the sovereign rights of COMESA member states. We implore COMESA members to reject the policy out of hand at their next meeting, scheduled to take place from the 12th

On- going Concerns about Harmonisation of Biosafety Regulations in Africa

The paper is a response to concerns raised by the African Union‘s Biosasfety Unit about assertions made in an earlier briefing in June 2009 regarding the African Union‘s biosafety harmonisation processes.

In this briefing the Ms Swanby on behalf of the ACB salutes the initiatives taken by the AU in the biosafety discourse on the continent to date, including the early harmonisation attempts by its predecessor, the Organisation of African Union (OAU) to put in place a Model Law on Safety in Biotechnology. At that time, the OAU’s harmonisation approach was to bring about a consistent African approach to biosafety regulation based strongly on the precautionary principle.

However, this briefing continues to warn of the dangers lurking in the AU’s Biosafety Stategy with regard to proposed biosafety harmonisation processes that involve several players that cause us great concern. These players include: Regional Economic Communities (RECs), who have a decidedly pro trade and pro GM agenda and whose biosafety initiatives have to date been funded by USAID. The briefing points out that the harmonisation approach favoured by USAID is one that creates a one stop GMO approval system, and thereby side stepping a country-by-country, case-by-case risk assessment and

Response from the AU Commission Biosafety Unit to Briefing no. 9

The Revised African Model Law on Biosafety and the African Biosafety Strategy“. 15 July 2009. In July 2009 The African Union Biosafety Unit communicated their concerns about the ACB‘s briefing no.9, their letter can be viewed here.

The original briefing can be viewed at here.

The ACB‘s response is titled On-going concerns about harmonisation of biosafety regulations in Africa, November 2009.

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Revised African Model Law Biosafety Strategy Briefing June 2009

Haidee Swanby of the African Centre for Biosafety attended a meeting hosted by the African Union during May 2009 in Arusha, Tanzania on various biosafety initiatives of importance to the continent.

In this briefing paper Haidee discusses the meeting and the issues and challenges lying ahead for the continent.

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