Declaration of Support for African Smallholder Farmers
Africa Trade Policy Working Group, Washington, DC -- 2001
Indigenous agriculture and biological resources are vitally important to the economies, cultures, environment, food security and livelihoods of sub-Saharan Africa, and in particular its small-holder farmers. A significant number of groups (NGO, civil society, labor and faith-based) within and without Africa are advocating to keep Africa’s bio-diversity, seeds, plants, biological resources and food security under the control of its sovereign states, local communities and small-holder farmers.
Public access to and communal prerogative over biological resources are rooted in basic social justice principles directly tied to certain rights. Those to food, land, secure livelihoods, cultural identity, environmental integrity and the protection of the common good are among the most important. Africa has taken a lead role - exemplified by the initiatives of the Africa Group at the World Trade Organization (WTO) - in resisting efforts to cede control of its biological and agricultural resources through privatization.
To this end, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) has developed African Model Legislation for the Protection of the Rights of Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders, and for the Regulation of Access to Biological Resources.
We, the undersigned, affirm the fundamental principles of the African Model Legislation and call on the U.S. Government to respect and support them in its trade, economic and development policies toward Africa and at the WTO, notably:
1. The rights of local communities over their biological resources, knowledge and technologies are of a collective nature and, therefore, are a priori rights, which take precedence over rights based on private interests.
2. African states and the people have the right to ensure the conservation, evaluation and sustainable use of biological resources, knowledge and technologies in order to maintain and improve their diversity as a means of safeguarding their natural support systems.
3. Local communities have the inalienable right to access, use, exchange or share their biological resources in sustaining their livelihood systems as regulated by their customary practices and laws.
4. African states and the people have the right to protect community intellectual rights and farmers’ rights according to customary practices and laws.
5. African states and the people have the right to regulate access to biological resources.
6. Because all forms of life are the basis for human survival, the patenting of life in any of its forms violates the fundamental human right to life.
(Mr and Mrs) A. E. Cooper Biscombe Hill Farm UK
Andrew Mushita, Executive Director Community Technology Development Trust Zimbabwe
Andrew Taynton Safe Food Coalition South Africa
Sr. Angelika Laub, OP USA
Association OGM dangers (GMO hazards) France
Rev. Anthony Cussen, Coordinator African-Europe Faith and Justice Network, UK (AEFJN-UK)
Sr. Barbara Porter Coordinator of Social Justice Desk Conference of Religious for England and Wales
Bernard Lindberg, Chairperson Mankato Area Environmentalists (MN) USA
Beth Burrows, Director The Edmonds Institute USA
Chris Keene The Anti-Globalisation Network USA
Comitato Scientifico Antivivisezionista Italy
Community Information Association Australia
Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras Spain
Dar Darley Oak Park, IL USA
Dr. David Fig Department of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand & Board Chairperson, Biowatch South Africa
Devizes and Marlborough Friends of the Earth UK
Diane McLoughlin, publisher GE Free Canada
Ernst von Weizsaecker Member of the German Parliament
Flavio Luiz Schieck Valente, Coordenador Geral ÁGORA Brazil
Fred Schneider Ontario, Canada
Gladys Schmitz, SSND Mankato, MN USA
Glenn Ashton, Director Ekogaia Foundation South Africa
Indigenous Peoples’ Biodiversity Network (International) Instituto Sindical de Trabajo, Ambiente y Salud Spain
Julie Davids Critical Path AIDS Project Kechua-Aymara Association for Sustainable Livelihoods
Kevin Murray, Executive Director Grassroots International USA
Jaan Suurkula M.D., Chairman Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology Sweden
Jonathan King Prof of Molecular Biology, MIT, Board of Directors, Council for Responsible Genetics USA
Joseph Ole Simel, National Co-ordinator Mainyoito Pastoralist Integrated Development Organization Kenya
Kate Macintosh, Chair Architects and Engineers for Social Responsibility UK
Konrad Knerr Australian Ethical Investment and Superannuation Fund Australia
Larry Halvey-Goodwin, Executive Director Africa Faith & Justice Network USA
(Revd. Dr.) Leon Spencer, Executive Director Washington Office on Africa USA
Linda Elswick International Partners for Sustainable Agriculture USA
Maheswar Ghimire Ecological Services Centre Nepal
Margo Bansda (South African) Washington DC USA
Mark Ritchie, President Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy USA
Mary C. LaFrance Southgate, Michigan USA
MASIPAG (Farmer Scientist Partnership for Development) Philippines
Michael Sackin UK
Miguel A. Altieri, Ph.D., Professor of Agro-ecology University of California, Berkeley USA
Peter J. Henriot, S.J. Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection Zambia
Peter Montague, Ph.D., Director Environmental Research Foundation USA
Peter Rutsch & Company - Attorneys South Africa
Peter Stone Rochester Food Not Bombs USA
Phil Owen Southern African Water Crisis South Africa
Philip Stewart Lecturer: Lands, Parks & Wildlife Management School of Biological, Environmental & Chemical Sciences Faculty of Science, IT & Education, Palmerston Campus Northern Territory University Australia
P. V. Satheesh Director, Deccan Development Society; India Coordinator, South Asian Network for Food, Ecology and Culture; Convener, AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity India
Robert Anderson, Member Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics
Ronnie Cummins Organic Consumers Association USA
Rory Short South Africa
Seedgood Foundation (Stichting Zaadgoed) The Netherlands
Silvia Rodriguez Programa CAMBIOS Universidad Nacional Costa Rica
Sisters of Mercy U.S. Province Redlands, CA USA
Sociedad Española de Agricultura Ecológica Spain
Steven Stevenson Collingwood, Victoria Australia
Suzanne Hedrick USA
Tom Campbell, Lecturer Development Studies Centre Ireland
Tom Forster International Partners for Sustainable Agriculture USA
Troels Dilling-Hansen The Danish Association of Ecovillages, LØS.
VOICE (Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment) Ireland
Wally Menne The Indigenous Plant Network South Africa
Wanjiru Kamau, Ed. D., President & CEO African Immigrants Foundation USA
Dr. William Fiebig FAO Seed Security Officer Italy
Wray Whyte Zimbabwe
WTO Watch Qld Australia
Wytze de Lange XminY Solidarity Funds The Netherlands