(Speech delivered by Isidoro Angoc, staff-farmer of PAKISAMA, an AFA member, during the FAO international technical conference on “Agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries: Options and opportunities in crops, forestry, livestock, fisheries and agro-industry to face the challenges of food insecurity and climate change (ABDC-10)” being held in Guadalajara, Mexico on 1-4 March 2010. ABDC-10 is hosted by the Government of Mexico and co-sponsored by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) and the World Bank are major partners in this initiative. Click here to go to the conference website.)
I am Isidoro Ancog, farmer from the Bohol islands, Philippines. I am a tenant of a one hectare land, and I plant rice, peanuts, pineapple, vegetables, banana, yam and raise chicken , ducks and fish. I represent the Asian Farmers Alliance for Sustainable Rural Development or AFA. My organization in the Philippines is PAKISAMA, a national confederation of small farmers, marginal fishers, rural women, indigenous peoples and rural youth. My organization PAKISAMA is a member of AFA.
I am very grateful and honored to be invited to this conference, and for that I thank wholeheartedly the organizers and FAO.
Before I came here I have two FEARS and suddenly it becomes three now. I had a chance to read some of the documents that pertains to this conference. But I sadly regret that some or most of the terms there I do not understand because it is written in modern scientific parlance. That is my first FEAR, to go home after this conference with less understanding of modern scientific jargons.
My second FEAR is centered on the title of this first plenary; “Targeting biotechnologies to the poor”. I observe that the small scale men and women farmers and fishers, who form the majority of the poor in this world, are so underrepresented in this room. As a poor farmer in a remote province of Bohol, Philippines, I am extremely threatened rather than happy. This is a manifestation of what is happening in our villages — we are targeted, we are not involved in processes. Technologies are so top-down, imposed on us with very few knowledge given, especially on their limitations and effects.
to those whom they called POOR. What else are we not learning from the past?
However, there is one very obvious to me that I noticed. Most of the documents I came across are dealing with genetic engineering, and for that I have this feeling that this conference has defined biotechnology to zero in towards massive commercialization of Genetically Modified Organisms – that is my third and biggest FEAR – to face defensively to an adverse intellectual arrogance on a big scale?