Science in Society Archive

Letter to President Lula of Brazil, June 2003

Honorable President
Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva
5 June 2003

Dear Sir,

Please allow me to address you on behalf of the Independent Science Panel (ISP) on Genetic Modification, officially launched at a public conference in London on May 10, attended by 200, including UK's Environment Minister, Michael Meacher.

The ISP consists of dozens of prominent scientists from seven countries, spanning diverse discisplines of agriculture, ecology, biochemistry, chemical medicine, molecular genetics, nutrition, histopathology, toxicology and virology who are concerned to provide critical scientific information to the global debate over genetic engineered crops, in view of its importance for the future of our food and agriculture.

The ISP members have undertaken an extensive review of the scientific and other evidence on the problems and hazards of GM crops and the manifold benefits of all forms of sustainable agriculture. The results are presented in a report entitled, The Case for a GM Free Sustainable World, a draft of which was released electronically on May 10,and is now being finalised for released 15 June 2003.

Ahead of the release of the final report, we are pleased to enclose an executive summary of the evidence assembled, based on which, we are calling for a global ban on GM crops to make way for agroecology, organic farming and other forms of sustainable agriculture. (see

Brasil, the second largest producer of soya in the world, has become the principal source of non-transgenic soya for consumers who reject genetically engineered foods. Consumer rejection is due overwhelmingly to concerns over health and the environment. For farmers in addition, transgenic crops, produced and patented by large corporations like Monsanto and Dow, are usurping their right to own and control seed stocks, which is the basis of their livelihood and food security.

Indeed, in recent years, Monsanto has declared that in order to dominate the global seed market, it would be necessary to break through the barriers in Brazil and the European Union.

It is clear, from the evidence presented in the ISP Report, that transgenic contamination of non-transgenic crops is inevitable, once transgenic crops are released into the environment. There can be no co-existence of transgenic and non-transgenic crops. We have to make the right choice now.

For these reasons, we very respectfully request that you continue to prevent the release of transgenic seeds in Brasil. The future of transgenics in Brasil is decisive for the future of food and agriculture all over the world.

Brasil has a very special place in my heart. I was invited as a speaker to the very first seminar on Biodiversity Law organised by your distinguished judiciary in Brasilia in 1999. Safeguarding Brasil's rich natural genetic resources from the ravages of transgenic agriculture and corporate biopiracy is a very important step towards a sustainable future for Brasil and for the world.

Yours Sincerely,

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

For the Independent Science Panel

Article first published 08/06/03

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