Biotechnology and Sustainable Development



Based on findings from the UN-led International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) reports, an issue brief preparedd by the Pesticide Action Network North America, was published August 2010 . It lays out a comprehensive set of options to reorient local and global food systems towards greater social equity and sustainability. These include improvements in the sustainability of farming practices on the ground as well as overhauling the institutions and policies that determine so much of what is possible.

Read the full document here

Options for effective action include:

• Strengthen small-scale farmers’, women’s, Indigenous and community-based organizations, and invest in rural areas.

• Ensure farmers have secure access to land, seeds, water, information, credit, marketing infrastructure and information.

• Build capacity in participatory agroecological research, extension and education and in biodiverse, ecologically resilient farming practices to cope with increasing environmental stress.

• Engage all stakeholders in open, informed, transparent and participatory debate about new and emerging biotechnologies.

• Introduce long-term environmental and health monitoring programs and conduct comparative technology assessment to better understand the respective risks, benefits and costs of different technologies and production systems.

• Use full-cost accounting to evaluate and compare the social, environmental and economic costs of different agricultural production systems, guide public policy decisions and set research priorities.

• Use the precautionary approach in decision-making which may entail prohibiting the transfer of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) among countries that are centers of origin or of genetic diversity.

• Limit production of GMO plants in regions that have wild relatives and show botanical characteristics that could contaminate the gene pool. Build institutions to support social equity and sustainability

• Revise intellectual property laws to prevent misappropriation of Indigenous, women’s, and local people’s knowledge; establish IP rules that recognize farmers’ and independent researchers’ rights to save, exchange and cultivate seed.

• Strengthen the capacity of farmers, Indigenous peoples, vulnerable or marginalized communities and developing countries to engage effectively in international discussions and negotiations

• More closely regulate globalized food systems for fairness and to ensure that both rural and urban poor have secure access to food and productive resources at all times.

• Establish and enforce fair competition rules to reverse harmful effects of corporate concentration and vertical integration in the food and agriculture industry.

• Establish equitable regional and global trade arrangements that enable farmers to meet food and livelihood security goals and to diversify production.


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