A Resolute Stand for Championing Farmers’ Rights, Resisting GMOs, and Paving the Way for Ecological Resilience
WE, the members of the Seed Working Group of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and allies drawn from 27 African countries and representing farmers, academics, CSOs, NGOs, media, faith-based organisations, agronomists, environmental and human rights lawyers, commemorate the successful conclusion of the Pan-African Seed Governance Conference, held here in Dar Es Salam, Tanzania from 14 to 17 August 2023.
Recognizing the role of women as seed custodians, the cultural-spiritual ties of seeds, and the foregrounding work of Peasants and farmers movements around the world, we have met to galvanise greater action for political and policy prioritisation of farmer managed seed systems and farmers’ rights on the continent. We have shared invaluable insights and forged connections. We affirm our dedication to food sovereignty for Africa.
The Pan-African Seed Conference has been organised around three vital themes:
- The exploration of new biotechnologies and their implications for Africa’s seed sovereignty. It is clear that we share a collective concern about the risks associated with these technologies. We firmly stand against the lobby for indiscriminate adoption of genetically modified organisations (GMOs). The lack of comprehensive review and policy consideration of the long-term impacts on our ecosystems, diverse seed varieties, and the socio-economic fabric of our farming communities is dangerous, a critical human rights and policy failing.
- The pivotal role of Farmer Managed Seed Systems (FMSS) in ensuring Africa’s food sovereignty. Through rich case studies and first hand accounts, we have celebrated the resilience, diversity, and cultural significance of farmer-saved seeds. These seeds are not just repositories of genetic diversity, but also embody the traditions, knowledge, and identities of our farming communities
- Forging continental synergies for robust seed sovereignty policies. Discussions highlighted collaboration, knowledge exchange, and policy alignment among African nations and non African nations. By sharing experiences and best practices, we can advocate for policies reflecting diverse agricultural needs. While unity is steadfast, acknowledging distinct contexts is crucial. We channel our collective energy to create equitable, just, and cohesive policies that honour diversity while pursuing common goals.
Reaffirming Our Position
- We adamantly reject the contamination of farmer-saved seeds, ecological and food systems by GMOs, new and emerging technologies. We affirm the right and need to preserve the integrity of biodiversity and ecological functioning systems.
- As Tanzania prepares to host the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa’s annual AGRF forum event, we express our deep concern at AGRA and other corporate actors’ continued pressure to influence African government seed policies and biosafety regulations to increase corporate capture and control of seed on the continent.
- We reaffirm our call to leaders to reject the failed green revolution technologies, and ensure that the continent’s own governments, policymakers, food producers and consumers chart our own path toward sustainable and healthy food systems and farming practices.
- We are highly concerned about the African Continental Free Trade Area as its standards on intellectual property will lead to the privatisation of African seed and food systems.
- We leave this conference inspired and committed to continuing our collective efforts to champion farmers’ diverse seed systems and ensure their policy and political prioritisation.
We make the following recommendations:
- Establish strong legal mechanisms to prioritise farmers’ rights, traditional varieties, and ecological sustainability.
- Advance FMSS through policies that offer funding and technical support, and recognise the importance of local knowledge. These policies must affirm the rights of peasants and Indigenous Peoples to freely choose, sow, and re-sow seeds, even if covered by intellectual property rights.
- Collaboratively build seed exchange networks among farmers and NGOs to conserve and share local varieties. Strengthen resilient systems for diverse, accessible seeds to benefit future generations.
- Farmers and consumers have the right to say No to GMOs, including new genetic technologies and this must be recognized in national and continental legal framework
- Recognize the right of authorities, including local authorities, to establish GMO-free zones, and put in place adequate measures to prevent contamination of such zones.
- Enforce long term and thorough risk assessments of the use of any genetic technologies
For more information please contact
Frances Davies, Policy Advocacy and Communications, ZAAB & AFSA Seed and Agroecology Working Group Chair
Famara Diédhiou, Program officer, AFSA
AFSA is a broad alliance of civil society actors in Africa’s struggle for food sovereignty and agroecology. It is a network-of-networks with 41 members active in 50 African countries. These include African food producer networks, indigenous people’s organisations, faith-based organisations, women and youth groups, and consumer movements.