Via Campesina Supports Rally Against CGIAR And For Farmer Led Research

Via Campesina demands farmer-led agricultural research and supports actions in Manila
CGIAR demonstrates lack of will to reform and keeps going down the wrong track

The Annual General Meeting of CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Reserach) will take place in Manila, the Philippines from the 30th of october until the 1st of November 2002. The Vía Campesina fully supports the parallel street activities and a mass action planned for the 28th of november against the CGIAR and IRRI policies. Although CGIAR has communicated an intent to reform research activities, in practice nothing has changed. CGIAR is still supporting the introduction of a disastrous « green revolution » that focuses research efforts on genetically modified organims (GMOs) and other technologies that support industry-led and export oriented agriculture. Current agricultural research is first and foremost geared to increase ownership and control by agro-industry. The development of rice and maize hybrids and dead seeds (terminator seeds) is clear proof of this.

CGIAR claims that research should be oriented to the poor. Yet small farmers and peasants do not have a positive role to play in their vision. On the contrary, because of their diverse and complex production systems CGIAR defines them as a "problem". Via Campesina believes however that these very diverse and complex production systems are at the heart of efficient food production and sustainable agriculture.

No to patenting of life and terminator technologies Patenting of plant and life forms must be prohibited. IRRI and CIMMYT announced their wish to patent their research with the aim of securing free access to the fruits of research and thus avoid appropriation by industry. However, the very aim of patenting has been precisely to limit such access.

Farmers and peasants rights have to be respected The rights of farmers and peasants to protect, exchange and develop their seeds must be respected and protected. These rights are a condition for maintaining a farmer and peasant based, sustainable agricultural production.

Genetic engineering damages sustainable family farming The current agenda of international agricultural research centres such as the IRRI and CIMMYT are to impose genetic engineering on the farming community. By establishing partnerships with the corporate sector CGIAR seeks to attract funding for implementation of this program. Genetic engineering will lead to rapid destruction of agricultural biodiversity, irreversible ecological risks, loss in food quality and safety, and further marginalization of millions of farmers. We urge the CGIAR, IRRI, CIMMYT and similar national research institutions to stop research on genetic engineering.

We especially denounce the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) through food aid as a perverse way of black mailing countries to accept GMOs.

For a farmer driven agricultural research Agricultural research and rural development must be farmer-driven. Farmers must be involved as equal partners with research institutions, non-government organizations and government agencies in developing and implementing the research:

  • Agricultural research cannot be restricted to academic institutions. On-farm research led by farmers themselves is an important and necessary contribution.
  • Different concepts of research have to respected. There is clear difference between the approach of the "scientific world" and the approaches developed within farmers, peasants and indigenous organisations regarding the role of knowledge, seeds and land or territory.
  • Access and control over research funds must be democratised.
  • Farmers must actively participate in designing, implementation and assessment of research programmes.
  • Research programmes should strive to better understand the critical role of farmers’ knowledge in traditional production models, their integration in the ecosystem and the role they play in the maintenance of local resources.
  • Research programmes must respect and strengthen local dynamics and put forward solutions that are locally defined and applied.
  •  Research programme funding must be independent and public. National authorities should increase their contributions and funds must actively support sustainable family farming models
  • Research should be geared to the maintenance, conservation and creation of biodiversity based on traditional and local knowledge systems and production practices.

CIFOR in Indonesia should collaborate with communities We request that the Center for International Forest Research (CIFOR) based in Indonesia, works with communities instead of their research being orientated only to industry-led forestry.

Via Campesina calls upon organisations to participate in the mobilisations in Manila around the CGIAR/IRRI meetings in order to make our voices heard !

Let’s globalize the struggle, let’s globalize hope

Tegucigalpa, 28-10-2002 

This article is available in