Climate Change, Uncategorized, Venezuela

Statement of International Solidarity with Venezuela’s Seed Law


Statement of International Solidarity with Venezuela’s Seed Law

On December 23 2015, Venezuela’s national assembly passed a new seed law banning the import, production, and planting of GMO seeds and protecting the production and free exchange of seed varieties of Venezuela’s farming communities (Indigenous, peasant, and Afro-descendant) among other provisions. The law is significant both for its content and for the process through which it was passed.

The banning of GMOs follows the precautionary principle in that the effects of transgenic technology are not yet fully understood and what has been documented thus far in terms of impacts on human health and the environment raises significant concerns. These are in addition to concerns over socio-economic and human rights impacts on the small-scale producers who make up the majority of the world’s hungry. Special protection for locally adapted seeds recognizes the importance of local conservation for maintaining maximum genetic diversity, increasingly important for building resiliency in the face of climate change. Additionally, the law is a product of bottom-up policy-making, resulting from a three-year process in which social movements opposed an industry-backed seed law. Instead they pushed for more transformative legislation, holding a series of participatory public consultations throughout the country to develop an alternative.

The passage of the law thus marks a historic win for agroecology and food sovereignty movements in Venezuela and beyond. It is perhaps one of the few national laws in the world which guarantees and protects the right of peasants to seeds. However, despite widespread domestic support and the international interest it has garnered, the law is under attack by industry representatives and their supporters for being “anti-scientific.” This places the seed law at risk of being overturned by the current national assembly, which has had an opposition majority since January of this year.
As scientists, practitioners and advocates involved in food and agriculture, we question the grounds for such attacks. The thrust of the law toward a prioritization of agroecological farming practices is in keeping with a mounting scientific consensus of the importance of a shift from conventional to ecologically-based agricultural systems that value the knowledge of local food producers and involve them in decision-making. This has been emphasized, for instance, in the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) developed by 400 of the world’s leading experts and endorsed by 59 countries.

We are therefore following the emerging struggle over the law and its implementation with great interest, not only for its implications for Venezuela, but for its broader implications in the face of increasing corporate consolidation of the genetic resources critical for present and future food security and food sovereignty. We stand with the food producers, scientists, and grassroots movements in Venezuela urging the National Assembly to maintain the integrity of this law and to support its full implementation.

Olivier De Schutter, Co-Chair, International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (2008-2014), Member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Professor, University of Louvain, Belgium

Jack Kloppenburg, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison and founder, Open Source Seed Initiative, USA

Sofia Monsalve, Secretary General, FIAN International

Frances Moore Lappé, Small Planet Institute, USA

Miguel Altieri, Professor, University of California Berkeley, USA

Raj Patel, Research Professor, Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin

Fred Magdoff, Professor Emeritus, Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont, USA

Philip McMichael, Professor, Cornell University, USA

Ian Scoones, Professor, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK

Eric Holt-Giménez, Food First/The Institute for Food and Development Policy, USA

Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, Professor, Wageningen University, Netherlands

Bernardo Mançano Fernandes, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), Brazil

Gayatri Menon, Assistant Professor, Azim Premji University, India

Esteve Corbera, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Frederick Mills, Professor, Bowie State University, USA

Anna Lappé, Small Planet Institute, USA

Jennifer Clapp, Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security and Sustainability and Professor, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, University of Waterloo, Canada

Ivette Perfecto, Professor, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, USA

Juliette Majot, Executive Director, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA

Sophia Murphy, Researcher and Scholar, University of British Columbia, Canada

Alastair Iles, Professor, University of California Berkeley, USA

Susanna Hecht, Professor, Luskin School of Public Affairs and Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA, USA

Nettie Weibe, Farmer and Professor, St. Andrew’s College – University of Saskatchewan, Canada

Tamara Wattnam, M.Sc. in Agroecology and PhD candidate in Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

M. Jahi Chappell, PhD, Senior Research Fellow (as of August 2016), Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, UK

Nora McKeon, Terra Nuova, Italy

Mindi Schneider, Assistant Professor, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands

Rachel Bezner Kerr, Associate Professor, Department of Development Sociology, Cornell University, USA

Peter Newell, Professor of International Relations, University of Sussex, UK

Robin Broad, Professor, School of International Service, American University, USA

Tony Weis, Associate Professor, University of Western Ontario, Canada

John Vandermeer, Asa Gray Distinguished University Professor, University of Michigan, USA

Edmund Oh, Associate Professor, ELM Graduate School, HELP University, Malaysia

Jessica Duncan, Assistant Professor, Wageningen University, Netherlands

Josh Brem-Wilson, Research Fellow, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, UK

Laura Enríquez, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California Berkeley, USA

Elizabeth Fitting, Graduate Coordinator & Associate Professor, Dalhousie University, USA

Sarah Lyon, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, University of Kentucky, USA

Simon Nicholson, Director of the Global Environmental Politics Program, American University, USA

Molly D. Anderson, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Food Studies at Middlebury College, USA

Brian Tokar, Lecturer in Environmental Studies, University of Vermont, USA

Dr Francisco Dominguez, Head of Latin American Studies, Middlesex University, London, UK

Marc Edelman, Professor of Anthropology, Hunter College & the Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA

Wendy Wolford, Polson Professor of Development Sociology, Cornell University, USA

Timothy A. Wise, Researcher, Global Development and Environment Institute, Tufts University, USA

Michel Pimbert, Professor, The Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University, UK

John Bellamy Foster, Professor, University of Oregon and Editor, Monthly Review, USA

Hannah Wittman, Associate Professor, Faculty of Land and Food Systems and Academic Director, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, University of British Columbia, Canada

Harriet Friedmann, Professor, University of Toronto, Canada

Jun Borras, Professor, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands

Eva Frankova, Department of Environmental Studies, Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University,  Czech Republic

David Primrose, Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney, Australia

Stephen Bartlett, Agricultural Missions, USA

Dave Murphy, Food Democracy Now!, USA

Joan P Mencher, Emerita Professor, Anthropology, City University of New York (CUNY), USA

Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director, The Oakland Institute, USA

Dr. Charles Francis, University of Nebraska, USA

Natalia Mamonova, PhD Researcher, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands

Sara Keene, PhD Candidate, Cornell University, USA

Huei-Ling Lai, PhD Researcher, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands

Judith McGeary, Esq., Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, USA

Youjin Chung, PhD Candidate, Development Sociology, Cornell University, USA

Wittawat Prayookwong, alumnus, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands

Shoshana Perrey, Graduate Student in Development Sociology at Cornell University and Gardener & Chef at Liberation Supper Club, USA

Arnim Scheidel, PhD, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands

Lisa Stokke, Executive director, The Next 7 Project, USA

Pierre Merlet, AGTER, Nicaragua/France

Sharmini Selvarajah, Research Programme Manager, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands

Amelie Huber, PhD Candidate, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain

Elyse Mills, Researcher, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands

Alberto Alonso-Fradejas, Transnational Institute (TNI), Netherlands & Instituto de Estudios Agrarios y Rurales (IDEAR), Guatemala

Tsegaye Moreda, PhD Candidate, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands

Elizabeth Henderson, Organic Farmer, Peacework Organic CSA, Newark, New York, USA

Hana Bernardová, AMPI (Association of Local Food Systems), Czech Republic

Salena Tramel, PhD Researcher, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands

Will Fantle, Co-director, The Cornucopia Institute, USA

Mercia Andrews, Rural Women’s Assembly, Southern Africa

Nancy Romer, Professor Emerita, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, USA

Grace Gershuny, Faculty, Green Mountain College, MS in Sustainable Food Systems, USA

Andrianna Natsoulas, Food Voices, USA

Martin Dagoberto, Mass. Right to Know GMOs, Massachusetts, USA

Ken Thesing, ICR, Rome, Italy

Eneko Garmendia, Ikerbasque Research Fellow, Spain

Ben McKay, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands

Hannes Lammler, founding member of the European Cooperatives of Longo Mai, France

Amy & Bryan Willoughby, Patchwork Farm, Copper Hill, VA, USA

Russell Dale, Science and Society, USA

Angela Adrar, Ecohermanas, USA

Andrew Kang Bartlett, Food in Neighborhoods Community Coalition, USA

Tania Salerno, PhD Candidate, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Marta Zygadło, Lawyer and Masters Student of Food, Society and International Food Governance at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain

LaDonna Sanders Redmond, Campaign for Food and Community Justice Now, USA

Laurence Levine, Co-Founder, Kids Can Make a Difference, USA

Antonio Roman-Alcalá, Alumnus, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands and Founder, San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance, USA

Giulio Locco, Food Activist, Italy and Netherlands

Denise O’Brien, Farmer and Farmer Activist, USA

Jane Hodge, Rise & Root Farm, USA

Jose Oliva, Food Chain Workers Alliance, USA

Sarah Laeng-Gilliatt, Owner, Main Street Cheese LLC, USA

Monica Ibacache, Beyond Organic Design, USA

Christina M. Schiavoni, PhD Researcher, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands

Madison Monty,Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, USA

Kelly Moltzen, Franciscan Action Network, USA

Annie Shattuck, Fellow, Food First, USA

Zainil Zainuddin, Local Food & Urban Agriculture Advocate/Researcher and PhD Candidate, RMIT University, Australia

Fern Gale Estrow, FGE Food & Nutrition Team, USA

Joann Lo, Food Chain Workers Alliance, USA

Denis Mpagaze, Journalist, Author, Lecturer and Right to Food Activist,Tanzania

Arnaud Apoteker, Coordinator of the International Monsanto Tribunal, France

Klara Kyralova, Friends of the Earth Czech Republic

John Wilson, African Food Sovereignty Activist

Yunan Xu, PhD Student, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands

Karen Washington, Farmer, Rise & Root Farm, USA

Rev. Dele, Nature’s Friends, USA

Johanna Rosen, Community Organizer and Communications Specialist, Massachusetts, USA

Philip L Bereano, Professor Emeritus, Technology and Public Policy, University of Washington, USA

Claire Robinson, Editor, GMWatch, UK

Elsadig Elsheikh, Researcher, University of California Berkeley, USA

Dr. Laura Rival, Department of International Development, University of Oxford, UK

Cécile Famerée, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands

Erika Allen, Growing Power – Chicago, USA

Shalmali Guttal, Focus on the Global South, India

Colleen Cordes, Director of Outreach and Development, The Nature Institute

Michael O’Callaghan, Director, Global Vision Foundation, Switzerland

Afsar Jafri, Focus on the Global South, India

Prof. Dr Arpad Pusztai, FRSE, formerly at the Rowett Research Institute, UK

Prof. Dr. Susan Bardocz, FRSE, formerly at the Rowett Research Institute, UK

Judith Hitchman, President, Urgenci International Network for Community Supported Agriculture

Catherine Ponte, Master of Landscape Architecture, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, USA

Margaret Nakato, Katosi Women Development Trust, Uganda

Simon Anoumou Todzro, West Africa Producers and Consumers Network

Gertrude Kenyangi Kabusimbi, Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN), Uganda

Hannah Twomey, Alumnus University of Oxford, UK

Beatriz Gascó Verdier, Diputada en Corts Valencianes, Spain

Ivo Zdráhal, Associate Professor, Mendel University, Brno, Czech Republic

Scott Freeman, Professorial Lecturer, American University, USA

Laura Calvet-Mir, Associate Researcher, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, UAB, Spain

Whitney Richardson, The Kitchen Community, USA

Frank Ademba, Program Officer, MVIWATA- Kilimanjaro Network of Small Scale Farmers Groups  in Tanzania

David Raby, International Committee, Green Party of England & Wales, PhD University of Liverpool, UK

Jonathan D. Hill, Professor, Southern Illinois University, and President, Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America (SALSA), USA

Emilio Rodríguez Caballero, Postdoc, Microbial Surface Communities and Processes Group, Multiphase Chemistry Department, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany

Juan Manuel Castellanos Obregón, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Universidad de Caldas, Colombia

Wendy Godek, Managua, Nicaragua


ETC Group

FIAN International

IFOAM – Organics International

Food First/The Institute for Food and Development Policy, USA

Alianza Biodiversidad, Latin America

Terra Nuova, Italy

La Red por una América Latina Libre de Transgénicos, Latin America

El Grupo Semillas, Colombia

La Red de Coordinación en Biodiversidad, Costa Rica

Sociedad Científica Latinoamericana de Agroecología (SOCLA), Latin America

National Family Farm Coalition, USA

Community Alliance for Global Justice, USA

Kenya Food Rights Alliance (KeFRA)

The Second Chance Foundation, USA

Rural Advancement Foundation International, USA

Food Empowerment Project, USA

Research Institute of Agriculture and Peasant Policy – Established by Korean Peasants League & Korean Women Peasant Association,South Korea

Global Justice Ecology Project

Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY), USA

Family Farm Defenders, USA

Rural Vermont, USA

Arid Crop Seed Cache, USA

Growth Partners Africa, Kenya

Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project, Oakland, CA, USA

WhyHunger, USA

National Farmers Union/Union Nationale des Fermiers, Canada

The Oakland Institute, USA

GMWatch, UK

Border Agricultural Workers Project, El Paso, Texas, USA

Community to Community Development, USA

Hawai`i SEED, the Island Chain of Hawai`i

The MOM Hui, the Island Chain of Hawai`i

GMO Free Kaua`i, Kaua`i, Hawai`i

The NETWORK for Sustainable Development Organization, Thailand

African Centre for Biodiversity, South Africa and Tanzania

Food Sovereignty Ghana, Ghana

Pan-Africanist International, Belgium

USC Canada

Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), USA

Friends of the ATC, USA/Europe/Nicaragua

Red de Semillas “Resembrando e Intercambiando”, Spain

Washington Biotechnology Action Council, Seattle, Washington, USA

Roughwood Seed Collection, Devon, PA, USA

Philadelphia Seed Exchange, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), Canada

Farmworker Association of Florida, USA

Becket Films, USA

CONAMUCA (Confederación Nacional de Mujeres Campesinas), Dominican Republic

Focus on the Global South, Thailand

Urgenci International Network for Community Supported Agriculture

JINUKUN, National Network for Sustainable Management of Genetic Resources, Cotonou, Benin (Focal Point of the Coalition to Protect African Genetic Heritage, COPAGEN)

Friends of the Earth Australia

Semillas de Vida, Mexico

Via Organica, Mexico

BIOTHAI, Thailand

Sustainable Agriculture Foundation, Thailand

Alternative Agriculture Network, Thailand

Thai Climate Justice Working Group, Thailand



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