2010. 12. 2 press release
The Position of NGOs on Genetically Modified Rice Development
Nowadays, both concerns and expectations on GM technology exist together. In this situation, we, farmers, customers, cooperative federation, and environmental organizations, as members of global citizens who want to live in a sustainable planet, express serious concern on GM rice development and commercialization. Rather than that, researches and policies on how to raise the degree of self support food and save agriculture should be put before GM rice development.
GM rice development threatens food sovereignty.
Rice is a staple food in much of the world along with wheat. in Asia including Korea, rice means more than one of the major crops. Farmers make their living by cultivating rice and it is the largest export item in some Asian countries.
Due to the opening of the agricultural market, self-sufficiency rate of food is under thirty percent in Korea, but the degree of the rice self-support is over 90 percent. The biggest reason for this is that farmers have cultivated rice consistently and kept the meaning of it for a long time. However, the field for rice has been shaken in Korea due to the open market nowadays. In addition, if GM rice is developed and commercialized by transnational grain companies and capital, the harm will seriously threaten food sovereignty beyond agriculture,
In 2002, Monsanto tried to commercialize GM wheat. Farmers, customers and environmental organizations resisted against the trial and it awakened people to the danger of changing major cereal to GM crops. As a result, Monsanto prolonged the commercialization of wheat indefinitely. This shows that even the major GM crops cultivating country does not want GM crops when it comes to major cereal that is responsible of their meals.
Nevertheless, if Korean government plans to replace rice with GM rice in Korea that haven't started to develop GM crops, it means that the government will not take the responsibility for saving agriculture and achieving food sovereignty.
The development of GM rice means another opening of the rice market
Transnational grain firms have already had a monopoly on the world seeds and grain markets. They try to promote development and commercialization of GM rice with major rice cultivating and exporting countries
Korean government is unfolding a policy that will end up giving up agriculture in the global trade market. The policy of "GM rice development" will raise the degree of dependence on transnational capital and grain firms of farmers and agriculture. Although Korea, China, and Japan is accelerating GM rice development process, transnational biotechnology companies such as 'Monsanto' already has patent on 'GM rice' that can be commercialized. Therefore, the profit of commercialization will go to the hands of the companies. For these reasons, it is naive and irresponsible to insist that GM rice development and commercialization will contribute to the development of biotechnology and agriculture.
It is unstable to be exposed to GM technology in everyday life.
Since 1996 when farmers started to cultivate grains commercially, GM pea, corns, cotton and rapes have been produced, but they are mainly for stocks, land, or factories and of little importance for meals of the world. Now that GM crops are grown in major crop exporting countries, the part that they took up in the global trade market seems to increase. However, what still feed the world is not transnational firms or a few crop exporting countries, but small farmers based on local areas. Nevertheless, if GM rice is developed and commercialized, the situation will meet a huge change. When transnational companies take hold of commercialized 'GM rice' in the rice market, customers will be deprived of "right to choose" safe food products and exposed to GM crops without any protection. We don't have long-term view of 'GM food products and crops yet and haven't verified how secure it is to eat GM food. Only documents that says "it is safe to eat" repeatedly do not secure anything. There are no farmers and customers who will choose 'GM rice' because it is not safe to eat and does not help the agricultural development.
Furthermore, the development of GM rice has a harmful effect on preserving our natural environment and keeping our biological diversity,
The international NGOs that examine GMO said that GM crops can not decrease the amount of pesticides and not increase food production as transnational firms promised.
Rather, 'genetic pollution' has increased. For example, the unintended release of GM crops and virulence gene metastasize to other creatures around. Development firms insist that GM crops are retrievable, but starlink corns are still found in cornfield in USA, though it is known that they were all retrieved and are not cultivated any more. This case shows that GM crops are not retrievable after the problem by them has once aroused. Environment pollution and destruction of the ecosystem has already begun.
Even international environmental conventions like 'Convention on Biological Diversity' and 'The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety' became a lobby place for biotechnology companies these days.
In this situation, moratorium declaration and security examination should be done to prevent further biological pollution.
Coexistence and relief should be put before technical development.
Korean don't trust statements that GM food is safe to eat from the government and experts any more. Farmers don't trust the government that pretend to do good for agriculture but simply treat it like a kind of product behind. They think that the government disgraded the value of agriculture. The development and commercialization of GM rice will definitely raise the degree of distrust in the government and amplify the anxiety for the food. GM rice will distort agriculture and raise dependence on transnational firms.
The development of our society is not done just by technical advances.
It is achieved by trust that every member of society (including environment and ecosystem) can coexist. We, farmers, customers, cooperative federation and environmental organizations as global citizens who want to live in a sustainable planet. appeal to policy makers, scientists, companies and citizens that GM rice development and commercialization will not only threaten our meals but also our ecosystem. Most of our seed markets are already taken by foreign countries. Furthermore, commercialization of GM rice will deprive us of ways to save seeds again which is the last bastion of food sovereignty.
It is proved by seeds in our country that has lived with us.
Researches and policies on how to raise degree of self-support food and save agriculture should be put before GM rice development.
translated by Eonsung Na (KFEM Green Hub volunteer)