- "The result [of WTO agricultural trade agreements]
will be devastating for small farmers in developing countries... These
small-farmers are the main custodians of the world's agrobiodiversity,
which consists of thousands of plant and animal varieties... When these
farmers disappear, this wealth of biological and cultural diversity disappears
- CANCUN -- As hundreds of
small farmers, indigenous people's groups and landless peasants start preparations
to descend on Cancun in then next few days, Friends of the Earth added
its voice to the groups protesting against the World Trade Organisation
(WTO) and its new rules that promise a devastating impact on the world's
biological and cultural diversity.
- The WTO draft agreements on areas like agriculture, services
and intellectual property rights will lead to increased deforestation and
the replacement of traditional agricultural crops, seeds and livestock
by large-scale monocultures, including those based on genetically modified
(GM) crops. 
- The most devastating impacts would come from agricultural
trade agreements, especially if they would be based upon the recent US-
European Union joint proposal for the modalities of agricultural negotiations.
This proposal sets the scene for drastic market liberalization in agricultural
products, while it leaves virtually untouched the massive direct and indirect
subsidies these trading blocks are providing to their own export-oriented
farmers (with the exception of a limited category of direct export subsidies).
- The result will be devastating for small farmers in developing
countries, who will be unable to compete with subsidized large-scale producers
in industrialized countries. These small-farmers are the main custodians
of the world's agrobiodiversity, which consists of thousands of plant and
animal varieties and related traditional knowledge. When these farmers
disappear, this wealth of biological and cultural diversity disappears
- "The large-scale, export-oriented agriculture that
is promoted in current WTO proposals is also the main cause of deforestation,
especially in tropical areas," said Simone Lovera of Friends of the
- "It is now widely recognized that the recent increase
of deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon is mainly caused by the rapid
expansion of soy bean production for the ñ mainly European ñ
export market," Lovera added.
- The traditional knowledge of small farmers and Indigenous
Peoples relating to the use and conservation of biodiversity is also being
threatened by the growing practice of so-called "biopiracy",
the practice of Northern biotechnology industries to patent seeds, traditional
knowledge and other elements of biological and cultural diversity of the
- Developing countries have demanded a review of the WTO's
Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement
to protect themselves against such biopiracy. As part of these negotiations,
African countries have called for a prohibition of patenting of life forms.
- Friends of the earth international calls upon all countries
to put a halt to such forms of privatization and commercialization of biological
diversity. We call upon WTO members to protect small farmers and their
agrobiodiversity against the devastating impacts of trade liberalization
and prohibit the patenting of life forms and other forms of biopiracy.
-  For more information please read the Friends of the
Earth International report 'Trade and peopleís food sovereignty'
- - For more information please contact visit www.foei.org/cancun
or call Friends of the Earth International in Cancun Alberto Villareal
+52 9981 204585 Ronnie Hall +52 9981 204587 or +44-777-4169145 Simone Lovera