DECLARATIONS AND OPEN LETTERS
The Bogève Declaration
Twenty-eight participants from 19 countries met at La Soleillette, Bogève, France, March 7-12, for the 1987 Dag Hammarskjöld Seminar on "The Socioeconomic Impact of New Biotechnologies on Basic Health and Agriculture in the Third World". The seminar was organized and sponsored by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, Uppsala, Sweden, and the Rural Advancement Fund International (RAFI), Pittsboro, USA, and Brandon, Canada, in cooperation with the International Organization of Consumers Unions (IOCU), Penang, Malaysia, the International Coalition for Development Action (ICDA), Brussels, Belgium, and the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) in Geneva.
We, the seminar participants, met in Bogève, France, to discuss the impact of new biotechnologies on health and agriculture in the Third World, where the vast majority of the world's people live. In discussing the nature of the new biotechnologies, and their significance for humanity, we recognize that:
Biotechnology is a global issue. It cannot be assigned such attributes as positive, negative, or neutral. Like any other biotechnology, it is inextricably linked to the society in which it is created and used, and will be as socially just or injust as its milieu. Therefore, we conclude that in today's world this most powerful new technology is more likely to serve the interests of the rich and powerful than the needs of the poor and powerless.
We fully recognize the potential of biotechnology to imoprove the quality of life of humanity. But it is important to emphasize the risks and hazards associated with biotechnology, including serious and possibly irreversible health, safety, environmental and socioeconomic consequences, as well as the use of such technology in biological warfare.
In agriculture, for instance, while biotechnology may promise to increase production and reduce costs, it is more likely to accentuate inequalities in the farm population, aggravate the problem of genetic erosion and uniformity, undermine life-support systems, increase the vulnerability and dependence of farmers and furhter concentrate the power of transnational agribusiness.
In health, for instance, biotechnology promises more effective diagnostic tools and new ways of preventing and curing diseases. However, the pharmaceutical industry is more likely to focus on the most profitable commercial opportunities and divert attention from basic health requierements.
In view of the above, we make the following recommendations:
In conclusion we wish to reaffirm that a rational biotechnology policy must be geared to meet the real needs of the majority of the world's people and the creation of more equitable and self-reliant societies while working in harmony with the environment.
Participants (names of countries in the following list are given for identification purposes only): Martin Abraham, IOCU (Malaysia); Karim Ahmed, Natural Resources Defense Council (USA); Annelies Allain, IOCU/IBFAN (Malaysia); Erna Bennett (Italy); Pierre Benoit Joly, SOLAGRAL (France); Praful Bidwai (India); Tim Brodhead (Canada); Anwar Fazal, IOCU (Malaysia); Cary Fowler, RAFI (USA); Daniel J. Goldstein (USA); Susantha Goonatilake (Sri Lanka); Kwaku Haligah, PAFATU (Togo); Henk Hobbelink, ICDA (Spain); Calestous Juma (Kenya); Martin Kenney (USA); Eva Lachkovics, RAFI(IIZ (Austria); Thierry Lemaresquier, NGLS (Switzerland); Jiraporn Limpananont, The Drug Study Group (Thailand); José Lutzenberger, Tecnologia Convivial (Brazil); Pat Mooney, RAFI (Canada); Ofle Nordberg, DHF (Sweden); Surendra Patel (Switzerland); Daniel Querol (Peru); René Salazar, SIBAT (The Philippines); Pilar de Sevilla, Funcadion Natura (Ecuador); Hope Shand, RAFI (USA); Mira Shiva, VHAI (India); Vandana Shiva, Research Foundation for Science Technology and Natural Resource Policy (India).
For more information, contact:
International Organization of Consumers Unions (IOCU), Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, P.O. Box 1045, 10830 PENANG, Malaysia (Attention: Dr Martin Abraham) or Rural Advancement Fund International (RAFI), P.O. Box 1029, PITTSBORO, NC 27312, USA (Attention: Ms Hope Shand).
March 12, 1987
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