ActionAid UK is concerned about reports in the press relating to our involvement in a debate in Uganda about the health effects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It is not ActionAid’s policy to take a position on the health impacts of GMOs because health related research is highly contested and we do not have the necessary expertise to make informed decisions.
As soon as we were informed that ActionAid Uganda were discussing health issues with local farmers we contacted them. They recognised that this is not our area of expertise and will not be talking about the health aspects of GMOs in the future.
ActionAid is not for or against GMOs but supports a precautionary approach. We do not run any global campaigns on GM technology.
We do however share the concerns of many small holder farmers’ movements. These are around:
- ownership and the costs of patents (because agro-technology is almost always patented)
- the threat to farmer saved seeds on which millions depend for their livelihoods
- the industrialisation of agriculture that encourages monocultures that act against biodiversity.
That’s important because 1.4 billion people worldwide depend on farmer-saved seed and over 95 per cent of agricultural cultivation worldwide is non-GM.
We promote a shift towards women and smallholder-focused non-GM-based Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA) that is highly productive and can tackle climate and water stresses, and has wider social, gender and environmental benefits.
CRSA represents an opportunity for greater community control over natural resources, seeds, land, water, forest, knowledge and technology and equitable and just distribution of income, power, and responsibility. To be a real alternative for farmers’ autonomy, it promotes strongly women farmers’ empowerment.