Latin American peasant, indigenous, environmental and other civil society
sector organisations, gathered in Quito, Ecuador, in January 1999, reject
the invasion of transgenic organisms in Latin America the greatest area of
agricultural biodiversity on the planet and now the second region in the
world in terms of transgenic crop acreage and we declare the following:
1. We reject genetic engineering because it is an ethically questionable
technology which violates the integrity of human life, of species which have
inhabited our planet for millions of years and of ecosystems.
2. This technology is in part a consequence but also exacerbates a global
development process that is based on inequity between regions, exploitation
of people and nature, and the subordination of peasant and traditional
economies of Third World countries to the profit drive of transnational
companies (TNCs) in the food industry.
3. Genetic engineering is a technology driven by commercial interest. It is
not necessary. It forces us to become dependent on the TNCs which control
it, putting our autonomy to take decisions about production systems and food
security into real danger. Especially in the field of agriculture, there are
traditional and alternative technologies which do not pose such risks and
which are compatible with the conservation of biodiversity.
4. Even though genetic engineering shares the same reductionist logic as the
Green Revolution, it is radically different from conventional genetic
5. Science is incapable of predicting the risks and impacts affecting
biodiversity, human and animal health, the environment as well as production
systems -- which the deliberate release of transgenic organisms may produce.
6. The deliberate release of transgenic seeds is an extremely grave threat
to the countries in our region which are countries of origin or diversity
for cultivated plants and their wild relatives, as it could result in
dangerous and irreversible forms of genetic pollution.
7. The commercial introduction of transgenic organisms into the market has
been made possible by intellectual property laws which privatise life and
undermine basic ethical values and principles such as respect for the
integrity of life. We therefore reject every type of intellectual property
over life forms.
8. The introduction of transgenic crops destroys productive traditional
farming systems and local rural economies by violating, among others, the
collective rights established under the Convention on Biological Diversity
and other multilateral agreements such as Convention 169 of the
International Labour Organisation and the UN Convention on Human Rights.
9. Equally, the introduction of transgenic organisms subverts the survival
of cultural and technological practices by farmers, peasants, and
indigenous, black and local communities, so that they may conserve, use,
improve, innovate and exchange their seeds. This violates the millenary
rights of these communities, which have been recognised by the International
Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources at the UN Food and Agriculture
Organisation and Article 8(j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
10. Furthermore, the large scale spread of production systems based on the
use of transgenic organisms represents a terrible threat to national
economies of the countries in our region.
11. We are warning everybody about this danger and we condemn the imminent
introduction of controls over genetic expression such as the so-called
"Terminator" technology but also others which will produce sterile seeds
and have no other objective than to consolidate monopolistic power of the
global seed cartel.
In light of the above, we demand that:
· No transgenic organisms should be released where they have not yet been
· The right of local and national governments to reject the introduction of
transgenic organisms in their territories must be upheld
· A moratorium on the release and commercial use of transgenic organisms and
products derived from them should be established until complete evidence of
their safety and absence of risk is secured and until our societies have had
the full opportunity to understand and have informed debate about these
technologies, including their risks and impacts, and exercise their own
right to decide whether or not they should be used.
· All decisions concerning the development, use and release of transgenic
organisms should be subject to consultation and informed participation of
all sectors of society which could be negatively affected, given that
genetic engineering bears risks which can unleash unpredictable and
Quito, 22 January 1999
The over fifty organisations that met in Ecuador are distributing the above
Declaration and it is open to signatures. Please pass it on to others. Send
your name and the name of the organisation you represent to:
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