A fair COP for Biosafety, Farmers' Rights and Food Security?

In May 2000, the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP V) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will be held in Nairobi, Kenya. At this meeting, the world's governments can:

  • sign on to the newly agreed Biosafety Protocol, helping the world protect its ecosystems and agriculture and giving countries the right to say 'no' to GM imports.
  • push forward international recognition and implementation of Farmers' Rights.
  • endorse a programme of work to strengthen farmers' protection of agricultural biodiversity.

But will this COP improve opportunities for farmers in developing countries?

"Will the COP listen to farmers' voices and facilitate their contribution to ending world hunger?" asks Patrick Mulvany, ITDG's Food Security Policy Adviser. "The COP is concerned about food security and wants to build on the knowledge, innovations and practices of farmers. So while international agricultural trade talks flounder at the WTO, the CBD could become a powerful force in setting international regulations."

ITDG knows that farmers have the knowledge and skills that provide practical answers to eliminating poverty and reducing hunger. For centuries, millions of farm families around the world have nurtured and protected the world's agricultural biodiversity and by doing that, managed and developed a secure supply of food. ITDG believes that governments should learn from this experience and take active measures to provide support.

"Despite previous commitments, Governments have yet to implement policies that recognise Farmers' Rights, remove threats to local production from trade and technology and increase the profitability and status of environmentally sustainable small-scale agriculture", says Patrick Mulvany. "So as the COP is meeting in a country where most of its people earn a living from small-scale agriculture and livestock, now is the time for delegates to recognise the contribution that small-scale farmers make to the world's food security and protect them from unfair trade and potentially damaging GM seeds. The COP should implement actions which support their agricultural production systems and their agricultural biodiversity. ITDG will do what it can to facilitate this".

At COP V, ITDG has organised a series of events with farmers, to influence the understanding of delegates and persuade them to decide on positive actions.

12- 14 May 2000: a workshop on 'agricultural biodiversity and sustainable livelihoods: the case of Dryland Ecosytems', within the Global Forum on Biodiversity.

14 -15 May 2000: a Seed Fair, hosted by farmers, within the UNEP compound, with participants form Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Peru, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

14 - 19 May 2000: COP V lobby.

More news from COP V

  Farmers' Voices, Farmers' Rights
What is COP V?
Agricultural biodiversity
ITDG's position
Abc research
Sustainable livelihoods workshop
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