International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR)
COMMUNITY SUPPORTS FAO VIEWS ON AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY
Rome, December 23, 2004 - ICABR, the International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research representing independent biotechnology scientists and economists, is openly supporting views expressed in FAOís latest annual report, The State of Food and Agriculture 2003-04, which raised controversy when published earlier this year, ICABR said in a press statement on 23 December.
In an open letter delivered earlier this week to FAO Director-General, Jacques Diouf, and endorsed by 700 of the leading international experts involved in independent research in the field, ICABR states that the FAO report, which tackles the issue of GMOs, "provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date review of issues related to agricultural biotechnology and developing countries."
"The FAO report points out correctly that this new technology is associated with certain environmental and health risks," ICABR said in its statement. "Yet, the evidence so far suggests that environmental and health risks can be managed, so that there is no reason for an outright rejection of GM crops based on safety concerns."
Furthermore, ICABR endorsed the FAO reportís findings that, on average, farmers who opted for GM crops, even small resource-poor farmers, have reaped sizeable income gains. "Studies even show that the net benefits for small farmers can be bigger than for larger farmers," ICABR said, adding that the report also highlighted the major areas where public interventions were needed, in order to bring the "gene revolution" to the poor on a larger scale. "This publication will be an important contribution to rationalizing the international debate on the topic," the consortium added.
The report was criticized by a group of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), who themselves sent an open letter to Director-General Jacques Diouf, shortly after its publication. The group criticized FAOís report for promoting the genetic engineering of seeds and for lending support to the global biotech industry.
However, in his reply to the NGOsí letter, Jacques Diouf reiterated that the FAOís report, published annually, reflected the views of the best known specialists on the subject, and that FAO had always respected scientific viewpoints, however controversial they were, in its reports.
ICABRís letter is currently collecting further signatures and can be seen on the consortiumís website at: www.economia.uniroma2.it/conferenze/icabr2004/
Also, a copy of the full FAO 2003-04 SOFA report, as well as the open NGO letter and the Director-Generalís reply can be found on the organizationís website at: www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2004/46429/index.html.
For further queries, please contact Vittorio Santaniello at the ICABR secretariat, University of Rome "Tor Vergata".
Telephone: (+39) 328 6934027.