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SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined?

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How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4630]
Some relevant guidelines to note:

The “Akwé: Kon Voluntary Guidelines for the Conduct of Cultural, Environmental and Social Impact Assessments regarding Developments Proposed to Take Place on, or which are likely to Impact on, Sacred Sites and on Lands and Waters Traditionally Occupied or Used by Indigenous and Local Communities” (Item F, decision VII/16 of the seventh meeting of the COP). The text of these guidelines is available online at: http://www.cbd.int/decision/cop/?id=7753#_ftn57 and also the brochure at this link: http://www.cbd.int/doc/publications/akwe-brochure-en.pdf

The decision by the eighth meeting of the COP on “Incentive measures: application of tools for valuation of biodiversity and biodiversity resources and functions” (decision VIII/25)
posted on 2013-03-25 00:06 UTC by Ms. Paola Scarone, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
This is a reply to 4630 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4631]
Thank you to Paola for posting a new question for the debate.

Given the huge diversity of indigenous peoples and their different cosmovisions on the use of their natural resources, and their relation to biodiversity; in order to determine the value of biodiversity, it should be done through consultation processes. On this issue, there are two international agreements dealing with the right of indigenous peoples to decide their resources: The IL0 Convention 169, which is legally binding for countries party, and the Declaration on UN indigenous peoples.

The ILO 169 Convention requires that indigenous and tribal peoples be consulted on issues that affect them. It also requires that these peoples are able to engage in free, prior and informed participation in policy and development processes that affect them. The Article 6, the Convention provides a guideline as to how consultation with indigenous and tribal peoples should be conducted:

Consultation with indigenous peoples should be undertaken through appropriate procedures, in good faith, and through the representative institutions of these peoples. The peoples involved should have the opportunity to participate freely at all levels in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of measures and programmes that affect them directly. Another important component of the concept of consultation is that of representatively. If an appropriate consultation process is not developed with the indigenous and tribal institutions or organizations that are truly representative of the peoples in question, then the resulting consultations would not comply with the requirements of the Convention.

About the type of issues that could be considered when evaluating the social and economic impacts of decisions on GMOs, the Akwé: Kon Guidelines includes among others: economic considerations, possible impacts on traditional systems of land tenure and other uses of natural resources.  This is a particular important aspect, since GE crop tend to occupy huge areas, sometimes occupying traditional lands of indigenous peoples.

Gender considerations experience shows that often those involved in these processes are viewing young men who have had more contact with the outside world, so that the consultation process should include the voices of women, who in many cases are caring environment, and the elders, custodians of indigenous knowledge in question.

Health and safety aspects, something very relevant in the case of the GE crops
Effects on social cohesion, which frequently is broken when new activities are introduce inside the indigenous communities, and impacts on access to biological resources for livehoods.

We have to add cultural values related with biodiversity, and how any decision on GE crops affected these values.
posted on 2013-03-25 01:59 UTC by Dr. Elizabeth Bravo, Acción Ecológica, Ecuador
This is a reply to 4631 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4632]
Thank you very much Paola for this new topic for debate .
The value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities is of a great importance taking into account the traditonal knowledge and experience of these peoples related to biodiversity particularly in traditional medecine .The right of indigenous peolpe is included in the Declaration on UN indigenous peoples and the value of biological diversity could be determined through a participative approach with the representatives of these peoples including surveys, questionnary on the use of their natural ressources particularlly the benefit of biodiversity in the evolution of their life conditions.
Dr Gado
posted on 2013-03-25 08:19 UTC by Mr. Mahaman Gado Zaki, Niger
This is a reply to 4632 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4633]
Dear All

I have struggled a bit with understanding the purpose or intent of the wording. The wording is: “The Parties… may take into account… socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, especially with regard to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities.”

I think the wording implies that biological diversity is highly valued by such communities, and due care should be taken to avoid disrupting the biological diversity.  But is it implied that GMO’s affect indigenous communities’ value of biological diversity? Would this not apply to any introduced agricultural methods (i.e. not a GM-specific issue)? Is it further implying that case-by-case SE consultations need to be undertaken with each possible GMO introduction?

I have further comments to make, but these may be based on a misinterpretation of the clause, so I would appreciate any clarity that can be provided.


Ben Durham
posted on 2013-03-25 13:16 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
This is a reply to 4633 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4634]
Dear all

I would like to thank Elizabeth Bravo [#4631] for contextualizing well our discussion on this question.

In addition to what she has said, I would like to highlight that the evolution of the sentence “especially with regard to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities” in Article 26, can be traced back to Article 8(j) of the CBD.

Quoting from the IUCN Explanatory Guide to the Cartagena Protocol:

“Article 8(j) imposes on Parties to the CBD three basic obligations with respect to the “knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles”:
1. respect, preserve and maintain such knowledge, innovations and practices relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity;
2. promote the wider application of such knowledge, innovations and practices with the approval and involvement of their holders; and
3. encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge, innovations and practices.”

Article 8(j) therefore sets the general tone of obligations of the CBD Parties (and those that are also Cartagena Protocol Parties) with regard to the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities. It follows then that the introduction of GMOs should not threaten such knowledge, innovation and practices and that these are one cluster of socio-economic considerations that have to be especially taken into account.

The biological diversity that is of value to indigenous and local communities may be impacted by the introduction of GMOs. The Explanatory Guide continues: “Socio-economic considerations with respect to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities, may also refer to the impact of introduction of LMOs on the ability of indigenous and local communities to make use of the biological diversity upon which their community’s survival and traditional livelihood depends. These socio-economic considerations may include, inter alia, the impact that decisions on imports or other domestic LMO regulatory measures may have on: 

- the continued existence and range of diversity of the biological resources in the areas inhabited or used by indigenous or local communities; 

- the loss of access to genetic and other natural resources, previously available to indigenous or local communities in their territories; or 

- the loss of cultural traditions, knowledge, and practices in a particular indigenous or local community as a result of the loss of biological diversity in their territory.”

I would add that “local communities embodying traditional lifestyles” also include small-scale farmers who make up the majority of farmers in developing countries. Threats arising from, inter alia, impacts on agricultural biodiversity, loss of access to plant genetic resources including threats to farmers’ rights, and any ensuing losses in farmers’ innovation, knowledge, selection of seeds/propagating material and sustainable agricultural practices, all of which may be posed by GMOs directly or indirectly, should then also especially be taken into account. It would be instructive to draw on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) to look at the relationship between conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity, farmers’ rights and the role of local and indigenous communities and farmers, particularly those in the centres of origin and crop diversity.

Looking forward to more interesting discussions!

kind regards
Lim Li Ching
Third World Network
posted on 2013-03-25 14:05 UTC by Ms. Li Ching Lim, Third World Network
This is a reply to 4634 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4635]
I want to thank Lim Li Ching's for her explanation. That's the best reference for the question Ben Durham asked.
Just one addition: Here is the link to the Explanatory Guide of the IUCN, which might be useful for the participants not only in the context of SECS.



Andreas Heissenberger
Environment Agency Austria
posted on 2013-03-25 14:18 UTC by Dr. Andreas Heissenberger, Austria
This is a reply to 4633 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4636]
Dear collegues,

I hope everyone had a good weekend before resuming this complex, but interesting and enlightening discussions on how to keep our world safer and better for the next generations.

I join Mr. Ben Durham in asking the same question, so our discussion is focused and productive.   It is essential to ask the right  questions,  to later conduct scientifically defensible  risk assessment and risk management process.  Ultimately, good decision making will be based on the strength of asking the right questions at the RA and RM level.

In answering the third question of this forum, are we discussing the negative effects that globalization, industrialization and agriculture in general have on indigenous communities, their livelihood and the threat to their spiritual values? Or specifically, are we discussing the possible impact  that a  specific genetic modification introduced into a specific plant variety  that is cultivated,  may have on such a group - irrespective of other parameters?  I would find the second question a lot more difficult to answer to conduct a RA, without going into a hundred unrelated tangents.  Let’s recognize that RA and RM are expensive and time consuming processes, so asking the right questions is essential, especially for struggling governments in developing countries.

If we were to discuss the effect on agriculture, especially industrial, large scale agriculture on indigenous communities, the parameters for discussion would be clearer to me. I could also understand a discussion on how a technology that may contribute to solve an agricultural   production problem (such as controlling a specific pest  in the case of specific GM crops)  may also be rapidly adopted by farmers. The rapid adoption of this technology for its obvious production benefits,  may also have negative social consequences to other groups not involved in farming, or farming of that particular crop.

But the same argument  would apply for the introduction of any other technology. 

What it is not at all clear to me,  is how we can extrapolate the ills of industrial, unsustainable agriculture to the perceived negative impacts  of genetic engeneering on a specifc population. We would need such specific details to formulte appropriate questions for RA and RM.   Without appropriate questions, the RA and RM processes would fail with dire consequences for good descion making.

To emphasize the point, are we discussing the problems of the expansion of agriculture, or are we discussing the possible problems of the genetic modification  on a specific human, animal and plant population?

Kind regards to all and I look forward to continue learning from you.
Maria Mercedes Roca
posted on 2013-03-25 14:22 UTC by Ms. Maria Mercedes Roca, Honduras
This is a reply to 4630 SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4637]
Dear participants again,

I first would like to give a rapid answer from my personal opinion to Dr. Maria Mercedes Roca' s question that completed that of Ben David Durham, and this in complement to other previous postings.

As Dr. Bryan Wynne suggested in a previous session and as I also argued this, there are at least 2 levels of LMOs' potential impacts ( biosafety and SE impacts ) that can be looked at, and this especially when LM cultivated plants are tackled: there is the case by case potential impact of particular LMOs with their specific transgenic traits, and there are the cumulated impacts of the spreading of many LMOs, with their package of agricultural methods, all over the world, and in particular in traditional agricultural systems; this level of impacts deserves maybe more generic considerations. I think that both levels of impacts can be considered here ( and maybe more levels of impacts can be perceived by some populations ).

I thank Dr. Elizabeth Bravo and Li Ching Lim to have already clearly made reference to main international agreements that should be respected to determine the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities.

To give some more details, Art. 13, 14, 15 of the ILO Convention and Art. 26, 27, 28, 29 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People give rights ( of ownership and use, development ) to Indigenous people to the lands and territories that they have traditionally, and also rights to the natural resources on these  territories .
They have also  the right to determine their own development ( art. 7 of ILO 169 ) ( art. 23  & 31 of UNDRIP ) .
Art. 13 of ILO 169: " ........ governments shall respect the special importance for the cultures and spiritual values of the people concerned and their relationship with the lands or territories ....."
Art. 24 of UNDRIP: " Indigenous people have the right to their traditional medicines and to maintain their health practices , including the conservation of their vital medicinal plants, animals and minerals."
Art. 31.1 of UNDRIP: " Indigenous people have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, ......as well as the manifestations of their sciences , technologies, and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines , knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, ....... and have the right to develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, ....."
Art. 31.2 ...................: " In conjunction with indigenous people, States shall take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights. "

As mentioned by Elizabeth Bravo, Art. 6 of the ILO Convention foresees a procedure for the consultation of Indigenous people .
So does also Art. 32.2 of the UNDRIP. : "States shall consult indigenous people........ in order to obtain their free and informed consent to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources ......... ".

As well explained by Li Ching Lim, Art. 8j  indeed gives some more precisions towards the protection of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles that preserve biodiversity and its sustainable use and the Explanatory Guide of the Protocol gives some broad examples of what could be SECs related to impacts on biodiversity by LMOs that could be damageable to indigenous and local communities .

I also totally agree with her reference to the ITPGRFA, where, in particular in Art. 9, the important contribution of local and indigenous communities in the conservation and development of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture is recognized and rights are agreed to them on that base, for the protection of concerned traditional knowledge and to participate in decision making related to the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for plant and agriculture ( beside for equitable benefit sharing from the utilization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture ).

Kind regards, and good beginning of week to all of you.

Lucette Flandroy

Disclaimer : http://www.health.belgium.be/eportal/disclaimer/
posted on 2013-03-25 17:00 UTC by Ms. Lucette Flandroy, Belgium
This is a reply to 4637 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4638]
Thanks Ching Li Lim  and Lucette Flandro by putting several important elements in the discussion on the relationship between indigenous peoples and conservation and use of biodiversity.

It is true that, there are many activities that impact differentially to the  indigenous peoples, but GM crops have special impact. One is the danger of genetic contamination of maize, for indigenous peoples and peasants of Latin America are of vital importance. Many people are considered “sons and daughters of corn”, and this crop is part of the ritual life and the base of thir cultural and physical reproduction

I think there is abundant literature on the subject, and I think nobody doubts that special relationship between indigenous and tribal peoples and their environment.

I think most of the international conventions, guidelines and voluntary or legally binding existing scientific literature, it is necessary to consider in this debate, which the indigenous people themselves say in their statements.

In the above discussion, I had already mentioned the Declaration statement Galel Copan, where indigenous and black women in Honduras express the special relationship they have with nature and warn of the negative impacts on natural resources.

Similar statements run throughout Latin America, which is reflected in the fact that in various parts of Latin America are declaring GM-free territories. This is the case of some indigenous reserves in Colombia, Nicaragua, Bolivia and other Latin American countries.  See for instance:

Abother resource to be used are the reports of the Special Rapporteur of Human Rights.

The Special Rapporteur on the Rifgt to Food rights during his visit to Mexico stated that  it is unclear whether GM corn varieties used in the experiments allowed between 2009 and 2011 contribute something to solve the country's main agricultural problems, but the cultivation of GM maize in Mexico is a serious risk to the diversity of varieties native corn, given the unknown effects of genetically modified maize in non-GM in complex environmental conditions of the country. These risks are largely due to the characteristics of gene flow of corn, whose pollen can travel long distances, but also the seed exchange habits of Mexican farmers. A/HRC/19/59/Add.2. January 17, 2012.

Meanwhile, a group of Colombian organizations submitted a report to the Special Rapporteur of Indigenous Peoples' Rights during his visit to that country, on the impacts of transgenic corn unworthy communities whose territories are close to GM maize.
posted on 2013-03-25 18:21 UTC by Dr. Elizabeth Bravo, Acción Ecológica, Ecuador
This is a reply to 4638 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4645]
Dear colleagues

I am very grateful for the responses generated thus far from the questions posed by myself and Dr Roca.  Indeed, it would appear that the clause is providing an emphasis on the recognition of the close and direct dependence of some indigenous communities on the biodiversity in their environment, and requiring that due care be taken to ensure their (the communities) interests are considered.

If the above summary is not wholly incorrect, there are two comments I would like to make:
1) this would not necessarily imply that indigenous communities would need to be consulted for each separate GMO introduction.  In fact, given the potentially divergent world view of an indigenous community with that of the western world (where GM technology is a developed tool), the indigenous community may not fully understand or realize the implications of GM technology (there are many examples - at least in bioprospecting - where researchers have manipulated communities to gain access to indigenous material - I have stories to tell!). It therefore becomes a responsibility, does it not, for the state to better understand and 'manage' the interactions of those potentially disruptive technologies of the western world with their indigenous communities? In other words, introductions of GMO's should be governed by national policies and legislation.

2) it should not automatically be assumed that indigenous communities would be against, or would not benefit, from new technologies. In the western world, farmers, for example, are often a tiny subset of the broader consumer population, and GM traits that confer benefits to farmers may offer no benefits to consumers. In many developing countries - at least in Africa - it is very different: a high proportion of consumers grow food for themselves, and as farmer/consumers, they can directly appreciate the benefits that GM traits may offer (such as pest &/or disease tolerance), not least because the household food security benefits.

Given the widely differing nature of indigenous communities, their differing dependence on biological diversity, and their differing ability to meaningfully engage on a highly technical/scientific topic such as genetic engineering (as distinct from commercial agriculture), I would contend that each member state needs to consider their communities contexts, the international declarations and agreements on indigenous communities, and establish their sovereign approaches to this matter.

Ben Durham
posted on 2013-03-25 20:49 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
This is a reply to 4645 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4646]
Dear all

The Secretariat pointed us to some documents for consideration. Among them, the Akwé: Kon Voluntary Guidelines are a very important basis for considering the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities. These Guidelines were endorsed by COP 7 of the CBD. Indigenous and local communities participated in the process of development of the Guidelines.

According to the Secretariat, “it is expected that impact assessment procedures and methodologies embodied in the Voluntary Guidelines will play a key role in providing information on the cultural, environmental and social impacts of proposed developments and, thereby, help to prevent their potential adverse impacts on the livelihoods of indigenous and local communities concerned.”

The purpose of the Guidelines is to provide a collaborative framework within which Governments, indigenous and local communities, decision makers and managers of developments can:
(a) Support the full and effective participation and involvement of indigenous and local communities in screening, scoping and development planning exercises;
(b) Properly take into account the cultural, environmental and social concerns and interests of indigenous and local communities, especially of women who often bear a disproportionately large share of negative development impacts;
(c) Take into account the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities as part of environmental, social and cultural impact-assessment processes, with due regard to the ownership of and the need for the protection and safeguarding of traditional knowledge, innovations and practices;
(d) Promote the use of appropriate technologies;
(e) Identify and implement appropriate measures to prevent or mitigate any negative impacts of proposed developments;
(f) Take into consideration the interrelationships among cultural, environmental and social elements.

The Guidelines go into quite some detail and I would encourage all to read them. I will just highlight here some key aspects.

Procedural considerations:
- Notification and public consultation of proposed development by the proponent;
- Identification of indigenous and local communities and stakeholders likely to be affected by the 
proposed development;
- Establishment of mechanisms for indigenous and local community participation;
- Establishment of an agreed process for recording the views and concerns of the members of 
the indigenous or local community whose interests are likely to be impacted by
a proposed development;
- Identification and provision of sufficient human, financial, technical and legal resources 
for effective indigenous and local community participation in all phases of
impact assessment procedures;
- Establishment of an environmental management or monitoring plan, including contingency plans regarding possible adverse cultural, environmental and social impacts resulting from a proposed development;
- Identification of actors responsible for liability, redress, insurance and compensation;
- Conclusion of agreements or action plans on mutually agreed terms between the proponents of the proposed 
development and the affected indigenous or local community;
- Establishment of a review and appeal process

The Guidelines encourage the integration of cultural, environmental and social impact assessments as a single process.

In determining the scope of a cultural impact assessment, the following should be considered:
(a) Possible impacts on continued customary use of biological resources;
(b) Possible impacts on the respect, preservation, protection and maintenance of traditional knowledge, innovations and practices;
(c) Protocols;
(d) Possible impacts on sacred sites and associated ritual or ceremonial activities;
(e) Respect for the need for cultural privacy; and
(f) Possible impacts on the exercise of customary laws.

In determining the scope of a social impact assessment, the following should be considered:
(a) Baseline studies;
(b) Economic considerations;
(c) Possible impacts on traditional systems of land tenure and other uses
of natural resources;
(d) Gender considerations;
(e) Generational considerations;
(f) Health and safety aspects;
(g) Effects on social cohesion;
(h) Traditional lifestyles; and
(i) The possible impact on access to biological resources for livelihoods.

The following general considerations should also be taken into account when carrying out an impact assessment for a development proposed to take place on, or which is likely to impact on, sacred sites and on lands and waters traditionally occupied or used by indigenous and local communities:
(a) Prior informed consent of the affected indigenous and local communities;
(b) Gender considerations;
(c) Impact assessments and community development plans;
(d) Legal considerations;
(e) Ownership, protection and control of traditional knowledge, innovations and practices and technologies used in cultural, environmental
and social impact assessment processes;
(f) Mitigation and threat-abatement measures;
(g) Need for transparency; and
(h) Establishment of review and dispute resolution procedures.

I believe that there are a lot of rich ideas and guidance in the Guidelines that we can draw on in considering the value of biodiversity for indigenous and local communities, as well as in answering the previous question on “what are socio-economic considerations arising from impacts of LMOs on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity?” We do not need to reinvent the wheel. It is clear that, inter alia, consultation, full and effective participation and prior informed consent are integral to the process, while broad impact assessment (comprising social, environmental and cultural impact assessment) is necessary. This does not necessarily mean that such an exercise has to be undertaken every time, but that ideally it should happen where there are implications for indigenous peoples and local communities and their territories.

Sorry for the lengthy posting.

kind regards
Lim Li Ching
Third World Network
posted on 2013-03-26 02:07 UTC by Ms. Li Ching Lim, Third World Network
This is a reply to 4646 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4648]
Dear colleagues!
There have been many references to documents on indigenous peoples. I fully agree that they are a very valuable basis for our discussion and I thank Ching to cite the Akwé:Kon guidelines, because they might provide us with basic assessment requirements already agreed by the Parties to the CBD.

However I want to throw in another thought: The Art 26 (as well as the Akwé:Kon guidelines and other documents) talk about indigenous and LOCAL communities. I believe there is a difference.

There is an interesting publication (though only partially linked to our topic) by IUCN which gives some insight (reference see below).

With regard to indigenous people this publication makes reference to the ILO Convention, which has already been done by other colleagues in this forum.
However, there is also a description of local communities. I just want to pick out the main elements:
• A community is a human group sharing a territory and involved in different but related aspects of livelihoods—such as managing natural resources, producing knowledge and culture, and developing productive technologies and practices
• The members of a “local community” are those people that are likely to have face-to-face encounters and/or direct mutual influences in their daily life. In this sense, a rural village, a clan or the inhabitants of an urban neighborhood can be considered a “local community”
• Their members share in varying degrees political, economic, social and cultural characteristics (in particular language, behavioral norms, values, aspirations, …

I guess this is an important point, as in contrary to “indigenous peoples”, which is clearly linked to the developing world, “local communities” is also applicable for industrialized countries.
Just an example from Europe: The European Union and its Member States have put a lot of money in rural development in the last years. This program is very much focused on strengthening small scale regional (agricultural) production and, yes – the strengthening of local communities.

So in summary, though I believe that we need to put special emphasis on indigenous peoples’ rights and possible impacts on them, I also strongly believe that we should not narrow our discussion down to this issue. Local communities exist all over the world and there is a link to biodiversity in many cases which we should not neglect.

Andreas Heissenberger
Environment Agency Austria

Borrini-Feyerabend, G., Kothari, A. and Oviedo, G. (2004). Indigenous and
Local Communities and Protected Areas: Towards Equity and Enhanced
Conservation. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. xviii + 111pp. http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/pag_011.pdf
posted on 2013-03-26 09:28 UTC by Dr. Andreas Heissenberger, Austria
This is a reply to 4648 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4649]
POSTED ON BEHALF OF Amparo C. Ampil, Philippines

Thank you for Dr. Andreas' distinction between indigenous and local communities. Under our Indigenous Peoples Rights Act , the rights of indigenous peoples over their ancestral lands and domains are restored. These rights include rights of ownership, develop and manage lands and natural resources and right to resolved conflicts according to customary law, among others.
However indigenous peoples in our country have also migrated to other areas to farm and may form part of local communities.

Amparo C. Ampil
posted on 2013-03-26 13:28 UTC by Ms. Paola Scarone, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
This is a reply to 4649 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4651]
Dear all,
Thank you again for the very interesting and useful discussion,

First I would like to comment on how the value of biological diversity to a indigenous/ local community can be measured. A consultative process with the community where there is a possibility and opportunity for wider participation along with sufficient prior information provided in the local language of the community.  There have been more details of an inclusive process given in the Akwe Kon Guidelines

This consultative process along with a context and background of the community would help in identifying the significance of the biological diversity to the community in terms of food, fodder, employment, income generation etc. This could then be measured against the impacts to this biological diversity from the introduction of an LMO into the system.

While some of the socio-economic assessments need to be done in an open-air field trial research stage of the LMO, some of these can be assessed and measured for a community by studying peer reveiwed independent research that has been published.A few examples of this have been given below:

1) Economically damaging agronomic weeds due to HT crops : Sarah M. Ward, Theodore M. Webster, and Larry E. Stecke (2013): Palmer Amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri): A Review.WeedTechnology 27(1) :12-27
2) A.J. Price, K.S. Balkcom, S.A. Culpepper, J.A. Kelton, R.L. Nichols and H. Schomberg (2011): Glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth: A threat to conservation tillage. Journal
of Soil and Water Conservation. Vol. 66(4) 265-275
3) Vila-Aiub M.M., Vidal A R, Balbi M.C, Gundel P.E, Trucco F, and Ghersa C.M. (2007): Glyphosate-resistant weeds of South American cropping systems: an overview. Pest
Management Science, 64, 366371.
4) Owen M D K and Zelaya I A (2005): Herbicide-resistant crops and weed resistance to herbicides. Pest Manag. Sci. 61: 301-311.
5) Charles M Benbrook (2012). Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. the first sixteen years. Environmental Sciences Europe 2012, 24:24
6)Madhura Swaminathan and Vikas Rawal (2011): Are there Benefits from the Cultivation of Bt cotton?. Review of Agrarian Studies Vol 1(1)
7) Yuan YG, Ge F. (2010): Effects of transgenic Bt crops on non-target soil animals. [Article in Chinese]; Ying Yong Sheng Tai Xue Bao. (Journal of Applied Ecology)
8) Effects of Bt transgenic crops on soil ecosystems: a review of a 10- year research in China.
Front. Agric. China 3(2): 190-98
9)Mellon M and Rissler J (2004): Gone to Seed: Transgenic Contaminants in the Traditional Seed Supply, Union of Concerned Scientists
posted on 2013-03-26 15:38 UTC by Miss Neha Saigal, Greenpeace, India
This is a reply to 4636 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4652]
The comment from Maria Mercedes (#4636) raised a very good question, which needs to be discussed in some depth.  Article 26.1 limits SEC to considerations arising from the impact of LMOs on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Is the intent of this statement as broad as some have argued, i.e., to include all consequences or outcomes associated with use of the LMO in the environment, including the "effects that globalization, industrialization and agriculture in general have on indigenous communities..."?

Or, is the intent to be limited to the direct impact of cultivating the LMO (e.g., Bt crop) on biodiversity where it is planted?  Consider the following example and please share your thoughts.

Example:  A farmer plants Bt cotton and has increased profits because of lower inputs and more yield.  He/she then buys or rents more land with the profit.  The expansion of area planted comes from reclaimed native land that the farmer cultivates and plants to more Bt cotton. 

Based on the discussion so far, some would consider the expansion of cultivation to native land to be an environmental impact that affects biodiversity.  They might also consider that it has long term impacts on biodiversity of value to local and indigenous communities; consequently the SEC ought to be considered according to 26.1. 

However, the planting of Bt cotton did not result in adverse impacts on biodiversity; in reality, it likely improved biodiversity by replacing the need to spray insecticides.  The farmer’s decision to farm more land and to reclaim native land is not SEC arising from impacts on biodiversity.  Instead, it is the farmer’s decision; and any considerations arising from that decision to reclaim native land is the result of the farmer's decision to cultivate more land, not the result of planting Bt cotton.

This matter undoubtedly will be viewed differently depending on individual perspective but is a relevant question for the group to consider.  Untilmately, such decsions ought to be made by governments considering whether or not and/or how to take SEC into account.

Personally, I see value in looking at specific examples and offering perspectives based on specifics rather than generalalities.  I would welcome other examples by others.

Eric Sachs
posted on 2013-03-26 17:28 UTC by Dr. Eric Sachs, Monsanto/Global Industry Coalition
This is a reply to 4652 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4653]
I would like to reply Erik with a different example.

Herbicide resistant crops only make sense because farmers save money on labour in weed control, and this model is economically viable only with large land extentions (there are several studies which proube that).

So, genetic modification produce social and economic impacts on communities because farmers expand with GE crops in indigenous and local communities territories and also their gathering, hunting or fishing areas, or their sacred sites. This expantion is possible due to the genetic modification.

Also due to the genetic modification, the farmer can use more herbicides which will affect BIODIVERSITY which can have a spiritual value, ritual, social, economic community. None of these impacts would take place without genetic modification.
posted on 2013-03-26 21:41 UTC by Dr. Elizabeth Bravo, Acción Ecológica, Ecuador
This is a reply to 4630 SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4655]
Dear all,

Whereas I consider it very interesting and important, I have very few time to dedicate to this discussion this week.

I thus especially want to thank Andreas Heissenberger to have brought this precision relative to the meaning of "local communities".
I also already read similar definitions in some international documents.
And it seems logical to consider that "local communities" indeed exist everywhere in the world, as local groups of populations developing common practices and values of local life that bring them to interact closely and insure some cohesion and harmony of social life at the local level.

Concerning the notion of "value of biological diversity": whereas there exist numerous and long documents on methods still to improve and in development for the economic valuation of biodiversity and ecosystems services, all these documents recognize that well organized participatory processes involving local populations are necessary to give some credibility for the duly taking into account of the cultural and spiritual value of biodiversity ( recognized under the CBD ) attributed by specific populations and communities and that contribute to the social cohesion of these groups; this kind of qualitative value could indeed not be quantified.
This brings us back to Art. 23 of the Protocol and to the participatory processes foreseen in  addition in the ITPGRFA, the ILO 169 Convention and the UNDRIP .
The intrinsic value of biodiversity attributed by specific populations can nevertheless in addition be partly found in studies completed by anthropologists, as mentioned by Li Ching Lim.
As long as these attributed values help contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, they should be duly taken into account in the context of Art. 26.1.

About the economic valuation of ecosystems services , I remind my last posting in the preceding session.

With kind, almost Eastern regards.

Lucette Flandroy

Disclaimer : http://www.health.belgium.be/eportal/disclaimer/
posted on 2013-03-27 20:35 UTC by Ms. Lucette Flandroy, Belgium
This is a reply to 4653 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4657]
The example offered by Elizabeth is helpful because it illustrates that innovations in agriculture (actually in all sectors) have the potential to be adopted and may become widely used if they offer value.  This is true whether the innovations are genetically modified or not.

New technologies or products have the potential to impact communities differentially, depending on the extent that they are used.  In a broad sense, the social and economic impacts may occur after the use of the innovation however in a narrow sense the innovation itself may not be directly associated with potential social and economic impacts.  They are better described as enabling technologies that allow users to realize benefits, assuming they are used as prescribed and there are no relevant health and environmental safety risks.

For example, insect tolerant crops help provide protection from pest damage that limits crop productivity and herbicide tolerant crops allow farmers to spray certain herbicides in the crop to manage weeds that compete with and reduce crop productivity.  In both cases the benefits to the farmer are increased productivity and/or savings in management cost.  There are other benefits as well but I don’t need to list them to make my point.  The key point is that the farmer could manage insects and weeds in other ways, and if those ways are profitable and used by the farmer, they too would lead to the same broad impacts.  If the products help farmers increase productivity and profitability (and can be safety used) then farmers will adopt them widely across the agricultural landscape

The use of genetic modification to enable insect and weed management is but one means to provide additional innovative choices for farmers that face real challenges from pests and weeds.  Genetic modification is a tool, just as a forge is a tool for making a plow, or chemistry is a tool to produce agricultural chemicals, or fermentation is a tool to make biopesticides.

But as I indicated above, any new tool must be examined to ensure it can be safely used before it is made available to users.  Article 26.1 gives Parties the option to take into account…socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity...  As I and others have remarked, this limits the scope of Article 26.1 to only SEC arising from impacts on biodiversity.  If there are no direct [harmful] impacts of the LMO on biodiversity then there are no SEC to be taken into account.

For example, the emergence of resistant weeds is not a direct result of planting herbicide tolerant crops.  Weed resistance occurs in response to use of a herbicide and depends on many factors that can and must be managed by farmers.  The consequences of weed resistance, including use of other herbicides and cultural practices, are not SEC arising from the use of the herbicide tolerant crop.  Arguably they might be associated with misuse of the herbicide but that is outside the scope of the Protocol.

From my perspective, there is value in examining such cases closely and asking the right questions in the context of Article 26.1.  When this is done, it becomes clear that many examples of SEC often considered to be relevant may in fact fall outside the scope of Article 26.1.

Eric Sachs
posted on 2013-03-27 22:08 UTC by Dr. Eric Sachs, Monsanto/Global Industry Coalition
This is a reply to 4655 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4658]
Dear all,

As we draw to a close in this forum, I would very respectfully like to comment on two separate  levels on the discussion generated by Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined?  This question is also linked to question 2: What are “socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity?

If I understand correctly, the emphasis on this question is on the impact of LMO’s and not on globalization, industrialization or the impact on unsustainable industrial agriculture in general. We all know and recognize the negative impacts of agriculture on biodiversity (especially cattle ranching for meat production).  However, I have often felt that the discussion on this forum gets lost or mixed between the possible adverse effects of LMOs and the known ills of agriculture. For coherence and perspective, we should try to separate the two issues (biosafety of LMOs vs. agriculture) and concentrate on the first.

Respectfully, I would like to:

I. Answer question 3 with the perspective of an academic and an educator’s  very concerned  about protecting ecosystems,  the loss of biodiversity and the impact this has on all of us (indigenous and “local” communities included). The type of discussion related to question 3 is very suited to teaching classes and  for student debates to get them thinking critically. It is also suited for the high-level policy makers of the world, such as the ones who met in the UN Sustainable Development Conference ( Rio + 20)  in Brazil last year.  I was fortunate enough to be included as the agricultural expert in the Honduran delegation. I learned a lot.

II. Answer question 3 with the perspective of an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practitioner and regulator, with the charge to conduct risk assessment, support capacity building and training  in biosafety of other regulators in my region. Ultimately, together with my colleagues from the CTNBio, we need to advice the Honduran Government (risk managers and decision-makers) on biosafety issues of biotechnology.  The regulators of other countries in the region (members of ICABB) need to do the same with their own governments.  To advice our governments properly, very specific questions - with measurable parameters - need to be asked in order to conduct and ERA.

The danger of not asking the right question is inaction of governments who get stuck in complex processes, and/or “paralysis by analysis”.

Under the second perspective (a regulator), I don’t find question 3 very constructive, as it lacks specificity and clarity from the perspective of a risk assessor concerned with biosafety issues.  With the exception of Costa Rica and Honduras, the development of biosafety processes in Central America  have been stuck as a result of  mixing SEC and purely biosafety issues (the possible adverse effects  to human & animal health and the environment) in the same process. I guess this may be the case for most other developing countries that are still debating and struggling with biosafety issues.  Lack of clarity in asking the right questions may be their greatest challenge.

On the other hand, wearing my academic and educator’s hat, I agree that the discussion under question 3  is essential – but maybe for a different group. I read the interesting link that Dr. Elizabeth Bravo invited us to read in her last posting.  I agree with all of you that we all need to recognize the value of protecting biodiversity, not only for indigenous  and  “local”  communities, but for everyone on the planet (humans, flora, fauna and microorganisms) since we are all interconnected - and all people belong to some degree to a “local” community – wherever we happen to live. I also recognize that previous generations and our own generation, have not done a very good job in protecting the environment, so we need to change our ways and challenge the status quo. We owe this to our children, to the future generations and to la Pachamama or Mother Earth  (I grew up in Bolivia so I understand these important cultural and spiritual values).

But to extrapolate  concerns relating to the expansion of agriculture,  to the specific  impacts of LMO’s may not be accurate or constructive, especially for governments of developing countries desperately trying to meet their demands for food security and economic development from agricultural activities and their biosafety responsibilities as signatories of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (let’s remember: it is a  Protocol on Biosafety of Biotechnology and not a  Protocol on  Regulation of Agriculture and Globalization).  

To illustrate, some claim that the “contamination” of local maize varieties in centers of origin or diversification result in loss of biodiversity. This sounds more tainted with ideology than based on science and local experience of what actually happens in the field ie. the consequences of a possible  introgression of transgenes (better word than “contamination”)  from a transgenic plant into a local variety, does not result in  the death of the plant and thus loss of biodiversity.  I can cite many peered reviewed papers on this topic, but we are not discussing gene flow in centers of origin here.  We are neither discussing how many farmers (not all - since  co-existence principles apply) may stop using certain maize varieties in favor of higher yielding ones – and  how this  may be wrongly attributed by some, as a negative impact of genetic engineering and thus, to loss of biodiversity.  It is an externality of agriculture and technology adoption and not a negative impact of an LMO.

Very respectfully, what I am discussing here is the danger of influencing the development of policy, based on wrong and inaccurate statements and assumptions,  that may greatly influence decision making in development countries,  unsure how to interpret all the information available. This approach may stop a technology that may actually have benefits for society.  This has indeed happened in the least developed countries and may continue to happen, unless we take a sobering look at this issue. Many such campaigns have taken place in our countries, mostly funded by some European groups and others that may  mean well, but have different perspectives to those  from struggling development countries. 

As this forum draws to a close, I would like to again thank the Secretariat and everyone who took the time to share their opinions and especially for having the patience to read the opinion of others. I have and continue to learn much from these discussions, which ultimately enrich my work as a regulator.

Best regards,

Maria Mercedes Roca
posted on 2013-03-28 04:46 UTC by Ms. Maria Mercedes Roca, Honduras
This is a reply to 4658 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4659]
Strongly support the intervention (including explanation) of Dr Roca.

Some further experience as a part-time regulator in a developing country which has a variety of introduced GM crops and vaccines:
1) regulators are not policy-makers, rather they implement policy. Countries need to employ and empower trusted and capacitated people as regulators - and as they are not policy makers - need to provided sufficient guidance to enable them to perform their duties.

2) regulators decisions need to be guided/informed/influenced both by case-specific (I.e. GM/biosafety) policy and broader (I.e. environmental; social and 'strategic') policies, which should include a reflection of international agreements.

3) Where there may be gaps, such gaps cannot be resolved by the regulators, but should be referred to & taken up by policy-makers (in SA the regulators noted a gap, referred it to the policy makers, and had an effective moratorium on GM commodities for a couple of years until appropriate studies were undertaken and the policy gap was addressed).

4) Regulators' decisions are best informed by applicants responses to clear & simple questions (noting that the responses may be complex).  Where the questions are not clear, the applicants' responses may vary with their interpretation, and leading to confusion and confusing responses.

5) the regulation process needs to be further informed by public input, and the SA process allows decisions to be reviewed if further relevant information becomes available (SA does not de-regulate, as the US does - rather we issue permits for "general release". Such permits could be withdrawn.)

Sorry, the previous intervention was posted before I completed it.

6) Bringing this back to SEC’s that take into account indigenous and local communities, the regulatory decision-making process needs to include public input, and, where such a process  cannot adequately address issues about impacts that may affect indigenous communities, this needs to be addressed in policy.  It would be inappropriate – for reasons explained above - for regulators to set/make policy through their decisions.


Ben Durham
(edited on 2013-03-28 09:44 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham)
posted on 2013-03-28 07:54 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
This is a reply to 4658 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4660]
Postings by Sach [4652] and Bravo [4653] provide contrasting visions of how to value the effects of GMO’s on biological diversity to indigenous and local communities – one a corporate expanding farm perspective and the other focusing on indigenous and local communities.  Dr. Bravo is correct in assessing the impact of labor saving technologies such as herbicide tolerance (HT) introduced in agriculture that aggravate increasing farm size and homogenization, often at expense of indigenous cultures and their environment. And then there is the obvious problem of herbicide pollution of surface (and ground) waters and reduction biodiversity resources indigenous peoples use.  Also occurring is the loss of indigenous varieties of maize, potato, rice, cassava and others that are sources of genetic variability and traits in the face of the expansion and homogenization of agriculture progress. The introgression of transgenes from a transgenic plant into a local variety does not result in the death of the plant [i.e., #4658], only in contamination, which is an important consideration when discussing biodiversity in centers of origin. The contamination of this biodiversity is a direct result of GMO introduction and not merely a semantic externality.

The recent court cases (e.g., the Schmeiser case in the Supreme Court of Canada, and an ongoing case in the US Supreme court) concerning farmers planting of GMO contaminated seed prompted the following thought: if introgression of transgenes into the land races of say maize in Mexico occurs, do corporate interests then own these land races because they carry IPR materials? Will researchers wanting to use these genetic sources then have to get company permission and pay a fee? Is the introgression of transgenes in indigenous agricultural systems or centers of origin really unimportant? As more GMO technologies enter and add to the introgression of still more transgenes, will the value of indigenous crop genetic biodiversity sources decrease? And how about the RNA manipulation technologies that pose unknown health and ecological risks. Attempts to use "GURT" (genetic use restriction technologies, also known as Terminator Genes) to prevent such “contamination” has not to my understanding proven viable. I think need to do everything we can to prevent the introgression of transgenes, and valuing indigenous cultures and protecting their save seed agriculture from the impact of such technologies is an important component as evidenced by the loss of local cotton varieties in India. Likely these are all old questions, but have they been answered adequately? Economic linear thinking about posited economic benefit to individual decision makers is insufficient justification. 

What is clear is that we are in the midst of an ongoing global experiment with unknown consequences on many fronts, with GMOs technologies being but one. The evolving impact by end users of these technologies is disrupting the global biosphere, including indigenous cultures that are the focus of this discussion. Technologists have not proven to be good stewards of the global ecology, and hence we must use caution.
posted on 2013-03-28 15:12 UTC by Dr. Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Center for the Analysis of Sustainable Agricultural Systems (CASAS) - University of California- Berkeley
This is a reply to 4658 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4664]
Dear All:

In first place, I want to apologize because I cannot participate the last week as I wish. During this days I have dedicated to read all your comments that I have found very interesting. Through this comment I try to add a new approach I hope to be useful for all of us.

It is clear, taking into account the numerous comments of the last days, that how to measure or determine the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities is a complex issue. Therefore, we can´t expect simple answers, furthermore if this question has been proposed in the biosafety context.

A necessary first step is to clearly define the actors, and for that we need to reach a consensus. Although the CBD ties in only one phrase “indigenous and local communities”, I agree that the term “indigenous communities” is better defined the “local communities” term.  In that sense, the efforts of IUCN and others to propose a definition is very valuable. Nevertheless, to avoid that the term “local communities” became in a lax term within ultimately all of us could fit, I consider important to highlight a pair of elements or characteristics that indigenous and local communities share (reason for what I think both types of communities always are together): tradition and familiar or small economy strongly based on natural resources and the biodiversity. Besides, precisely both communities are the poorest in all countries, furthermore in developing countries.

To measure the value of biodiversity to these communities requires overcome the limitations of the conventional economics. In fact, various valuation methods are now available to estimate the different values that people give to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including the fact that ecosystems directly or indirectly support people’s own consumption (often referred to as use value) or that they support the consumption of other people or other species (often referred to as non-use value). Despite the existence of these tools, only provisioning ecosystem services are routinely valued. Most supporting, cultural, and regulating services are not value. Additionally, the intrinsic value of biodiversity, broadly recognized, cannot be valued in conventional economic terms yet.

However, a number of existing studies of changes in economic value associated with changes to biodiversity in specific locations (for instance, mangrooves), have revealed that the total economic cost of the ecosystem conversion (including both market and nonmarket values of ecosystem services) is found to be significant and to sometimes exceed the benefits of the habitat conversion. Despite this, in a number of these cases conversion was promoted because the cost associated with the loss of ecosystem services was not internal¬ized. Often, the majority of local inhabitants were disenfranchised by the changes.  Decision-making in natural resources management based in such distorted information can lead to important losses of ecosystems and ecosystem services of a country; which, in economic terms, represent very important capital assets, specially, to countries that depend on natural resources. (See: Millenium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystem and human well-being: biodiversity synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington, DC.).

There are evidences of how GMO production can generate changes in biodiversity, not only at gene but also at species and ecosystem levels, as well as on socioeconomic and cultural elements of specific locations (like the case of maize in Mexico). Taking into account the arguments exposed above, it is pertinent to take on the challenge to estimate the economic value of the changes that the GMO technology is generating on biodiversity and to contrast it with the value of the benefits generated in specific locations, but using economic methods that allow to internalize the costs of the losses of biodiversity and ecosystems and ecosystem services.

Finally, in countries where GMO have not be introduced yet or where data are insufficient to calculate detailed economic information of total costs, risks and benefits, the precau¬tionary principle may apply to conserving biodiversity, furthermore in developing countries where the poorest, particularly indigenous and local communities, frequently are the most affected. Peru is one of the countries recognized as a center of origin and diversification where a great number of its regional governments have declared their regions as GM-free territories.

Best regards.

Dora Velasquez
MINAM - Peru
posted on 2013-03-31 22:40 UTC by Sra. Dora Velásquez Milla, Peru
This is a reply to 4630 SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4689]
Dear international participants,

As expressed by Dr. Maria Mercedes Roca in her message n° 4658, I think we all agree on some important elements in relation with the issue we are discussing.

Among these, the fact that we ( the whole planet, and thus the policy makers ) have to improve our behavior towards the environment of the planet. In this view the preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is an essential component. And the conventional agriculture, which is largely spread presently over the planet, has not done a very good job in the direction of the preservation of the global environment. Indigenous and local communities have local values and practices that can be more respectful of these environment and biodiversity ( this is officially recognized by international agreements and reports ).

This conventional intensive agricultural system is mainly characterized, beside by mechanization, by the use of chemicals ( damageable for biodiversity and health ) to compensate the weakness and disequilibrium of monocultures cultivation, with moreover lacunas in crop rotation ( lack of resilience of monocultures themselves, rapid impoverishment of soils, ecological disequilibrium facing predators, ...... ). Beside the induced decline in agricultural biodiversity, this type of agricultural system has reduced animal and vegetal wild biodiversity associated with farmland, including the soil biodiversity and its fertility

Having said that, it is true that LM cultivated plants per se should not be taken for responsible of all damages caused by the conventional intensive agricultural system, including to biodiversity, its ecosystem services, and health.

But, by reverse, LMOs, that have been presented as tools to avoid problems posed by the conventional agriculture, should not be considered as engaged in a sustainable agricultural system when they go in the same direction as conventional agriculture, when they reinforce/accompany deleterious impacts of conventional agriculture towards the preservation of biodiversity and the natural resources of the planet and for health, and when they facilitate projects having such deleterious results.

And, once again, what has to be considered here, to respect the wording of Art. 26.1 and the preamble of the Protocol, is the sustainability ( as understood by the Rio Declaration ) of the products and accompanying system and not short-term benefits; and also the realistic practicability and sustainability of risk management measures. Of course, some short-term impacts have always to be taken into account, but by always giving more importance to short-term impacts it is very risky to never reach sustainable solutions and to go deeper in unsolvable situations.

For what concerns the introgression of LM plants in traditional varieties or wild relatives, I agree with Dr. Andrew Paul Gutierrez that it cannot be considered as a "non-LMO" characteristic when it reinforces the impoverishment of the genetic pool of species that is recognized as a threat for long-term sustainability of agriculture and world food security. This is without talking about the SEC of traditional varieties becoming property of the LMO owner when the LMOs are willingly or unwillingly crossed with the traditional varieties. About that, reference should be made to art. 9.2.b.  of the ITPGRFA: the right to equitably participate in sharing benefits arising from the utilization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture ( taking into account the preamble of the treaty )

On another side, if the Protocol indeed allows Parties to take into account in their decision process, measures going beyond the provisions of the Protocol, Parties that want to take SEC into account should at least take into account the SEC involved in the wording of Art. 26.1; and complementary SEC taken into account by Parties should primarily respect the SEC considered in this Art. 26.1.

Besides, as said already by some participants a.o. Dr. Andrew Paul Gutierrez, reduction in labor necessity on the fields cannot be automatically considered as a positive SEC in communities and on a planet where still more people are unemployed and try vainly to find decent jobs in inflating megalopolis where socio-economic problems of all kinds are growing, whereas country-sides are abandoned by discouraged farmers, leading in some regions to loss of wild biodiversity ( associated to traditional farmland ) or to abandon of useful traditional farming systems that helped the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
In the present world situation, farmer should be more considered as a very valuable profession, and farmers should be officially valorized not just to raise the quantity of food or of other goods they produce ( and this without taking into account the planet resources limitation ), but to protect the environment ( taking into account the enlarging part the agriculture has taken and is taking in the global environment ) and the public health through the nutritional quality ( and the absence of damageable pesticides and other inputs ) of the food they produce for a growing population. As such, ( traditional ) agricultural methods should be valorized even when they implicate more labor force if they valuate farmers as well as the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and allow locally adapted and equilibrated ( for health and environment ) traditional agro-food ecosystems, and, when absolutely necessary to raise productivity, allow a high-level productivity through methods respecting ecosystemic networks and collaborations. )

Finally, before closing this session of the forum, one should not forget that the Protocol and in particular Art. 26.1 is not considering only LM plants, but all kind of LMOs.

With kind regards to all of you.

PS: the internalization of costs evoked by Sra. Dora Velasquez Milla is linked to what I meant by taking into account the sustainable nature of ecosystem services in comparison to man-made unsustainable and costly services that should replace them.

Disclaimer : http://www.health.belgium.be/eportal/disclaimer/
posted on 2013-04-02 15:30 UTC by Ms. Lucette Flandroy, Belgium
This is a reply to 4660 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4690]
POSTED ON BEHALF OF Carlos Almendares, Honduras:

If we start from the broad definition of Biodiversity ("life on earth"), so it will be difficult to find values that can support a measurement of the same in a given time, the same way on indigenous peoples and local communities, may have to look themes that can be measured in some way within this concept, eg species within the plant kingdom, what species?, within what ecosystem?, etc., starting from a baseline, but the question arises what are we to measure?, why? and if you find what you are looking for, what would be its real effect?, if the probability of harm: What kind of damage?, what is its size, is it repairable or not, etc.. In short, how long can we take this type of analysis?, What authority going to compete?, Are there capacity in the parts to do it? And meanwhile ... what?, It stops the right to knowledge, experience and evaluate new technologies and that the "people of the third world" are still kept in complete ignorance so that we continue to exchange "mirrors" maybe.
Best regards!

Carlos Almendares
posted on 2013-04-02 15:41 UTC by Ms. Paola Scarone, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
This is a reply to 4630 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4707]
Dear Colleagues

I fully agree with Lim’s interventions [#4634] and [#4646] and Lucette’s intervention [#4637]

I would like to add that The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) to the Convention on Biological Diversity highlight the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities and aims to ensure appropriate benefit-sharing for the custodians of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. This is well reflected in the protocol especially under;

Article 5.3 “Each Party shall take legislative, administrative or policy measures, as appropriate, with the aim of ensuring that benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources that are held by indigenous and local communities, in accordance with domestic legislation regarding the established rights of these indigenous and local communities over these genetic resources, are shared in a fair and equitable way with the communities concerned, based on mutually agreed terms.”

Article 5.5 “Each Party shall take legislative, administrative or policy measures, as appropriate, in order that the benefits arising from the utilization of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources are shared in a fair and equitable way with indigenous and local communities holding such knowledge. Such sharing shall be upon mutually agreed terms.”

Article 12.2 “Parties, with the effective participation of the indigenous and local communities concerned, shall establish mechanisms to inform potential users of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources about their obligations, including measures as made available through the Access and Benefit-sharing Clearing-House for access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge.”

posted on 2013-04-04 09:19 UTC by Dr Ossama Abdelkawy, Mauritania
This is a reply to 4707 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4708]
Dear colleagues

Lucette Flandroy (#4689) has posted a well-reasoned plea for - ultimately - better and more sustainable environmental management (with due consideration of SEC's).  I think we would all agree wholeheartedly with this - I certainly do.  Where I disagree with her, however, are her conclusions which, I believe, overemphasizes (she acknowledges this risk) the role of GMOs.

If agricultural practices are bad/harmful, countries need to develop policy that turns this around.  If the environment is being affected, policy should be developed to protect/manage this.  If people - local or indigenous communities - are being exploited, policies & laws need to be drafted to prevent this.

But we should not be seeking to attribute any and all harm to GMO's, or recommending processes that unduly affect countries abilities to derive benefits from GMO's. 

While we may accept that harm has been caused in one country by injudicious use of a particular GMO (if one accepts the argument posed, for example, by Dr Gutierrez in #4660), this does not automatically imply that the GMO would be harmful in another country, another context. I am a strong advocate of choice, and a paternalistic approach that denies such choice is, in my opinion, to be avoided - precisely because impacts may/do vary between countries/regions. Obviously there need to be checks and balances, and appropriate management & monitoring systems - to protect environments and communities - but these need to be reasonable, such that our communities can indeed seek to enjoy any benefits. It is our task, I believe, to suggest reasonable minimum checks and balances, and not to try solve the world's ills (acknowledged exaggeration!) through excessive/overbearing legislation of just GMO's. Recognizing, as Ms Flandroy does, that more and more vaccines (amongst others) are being produced through GM technologies.

I repeat a point/example I made earlier, with slightly different emphasis: South Africa, as with much of Africa, has widespread poverty, with high unemployment rates. While SA is food secure as a nation, there nevertheless are high levels of household food insecurity, resulting directly from this poverty.  For subsistence in rural communities, it can be more cost effective / efficient to grow an insect resistant GMO crop (albeit where the seed is more expensive) than a conventional crop plus an insecticide (with associated risks in the application of the insecticide). But we should not automatically assume this - rather let the communities/individuals test and decide for themselves. And we should continue with other efforts and processes that seek to alleviate the poverty.


Ben Durham
posted on 2013-04-04 15:02 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
This is a reply to 4708 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4713]
Dear colleagues,

I would like to first apologize for not participating in this forum during the last days as much as I wanted.

I would like to thank Ben Durham for a quite clear and valuable post as a contribution to this forum. I respectfully suggest we need to put a lot of attention to his post in order to develop a useful response in terms of capacity building/strengthening efforts.  I believe, based on my experience working with regulators in many developing (and developed) countries, that this opinion is quite representative of the opinion of a large share of regulators and decision makers around the world.  Ben Durham’s opinion joins that of other front line regulators such as that of Carlos Almendares and Dr. Maria Mercedes Roca of Honduras.

Regulators and decision makers in developing countries in practice have to face issues beyond biodiversity and the environment –they do not operate in a vacuum- they normally consider other critical factors such as the need to increase productivity, ensure food security and the promotion of science, technology and innovation. Help in addressing these multiple demands will allow regulators and decision makers meeting their obligations with their respective countries.

Regulators and decision makers cannot - and will not - consider all socioeconomic (or any risk assessment) issues in an assessment as this approach is not feasible and has problems of its own including the possibility of manipulation by interest groups. Regulators and decision makers need clear guidance and conceptual clarity in order to significantly focus the risk and socioeconomic assessments and decision making processes so that the regulatory system becomes functional. They cannot function with discussions that are in many cases academic and which may take years to resolve. They need help now with defining a feasible process. This starts by speaking in their language and understanding their needs and limitations.

Defining which questions and issues are relevant to each country will be the most important task ahead for regulators and/or decision makers as they make their decisions with regard to socioeconomic considerations. This starts with the decision of whether to include socioeconomic considerations in their decision making or not. Furthermore, regulators and/or decision makers will need to define the standards by which competing claims will be judged, the standards of research and assessment excellence, standards for decision making and the many practical considerations for implementation if indeed a country has decided to apply Article 26 in their decision making.

A functional assessment process is one that starts by having a fair and transparent approach done by experts with extensive experience with LMOs and who do not have a stated position for or against the technology. I simply cannot comprehend how an assessor can make an assessment if they have already stated a position for or against the technology, this in my mind borders on the unethical. This applies to those actors who are helping define a process or policy if they have not explicitly indicated their position upfront.

Helping countries build a functional biosafety system is of course dependent on the baseline human and financial resources available, as well as, the existing legal and policy frameworks in the country. A response that if a country does not have the resources to implement a biosafety it should simply apply a moratorium is frankly not useful and unrealistic for many countries with active trade with countries who are major producers of LMOs, as we are talking about decisions about imports and in some cases exports. Besides, and as Piet van der Meer has reminded different folks over time, the intention of the AIA approach was to help those countries without a functional system.

Finally, I strongly believe that for those countries that have indeed made a decision about applying Article 26 and/or to go beyond its scope through domestic measures, they will need to strongly focus on the implementation issues and the potential consequences from such decision. This will include defining a robust approach that will build upon the elements of best research practice and standards for high quality science.
posted on 2013-04-05 14:08 UTC by Dr. Jose Falck-Zepeda, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
This is a reply to 4713 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4725]
Dear Colleagues,

One does not have to be for or against a technology (e.g., GMOs) to want to see transparency before its implementation in countries at all levels of development (e.g., the USA). This lack of transparency is mostly hindered by IPR constraints on doing appropriate independent field research on the underlying ecology to demonstration need for and efficacy of the technology. Economic ex post analyses commonly do not includes such factors. Hence, the call for ready access to new commercial GMO  technologies that promise socio-economic benefit without this basic ecological research is hasty, and countries lacking the requisite infrastructure must rely on corporate promises or the findings of independent ecologically based research that is currently often lacking. The problem is more than net profits – it is also about the global commons. So how can we get past IPR constraints to develop this “… robust approach that will build upon the elements of best research practice and standards for high quality science”. IPR is a major stumbling block that policy makers in all countries should be concerned about, in addition to all of the other important biosafety and eco-social considerations that have been raised.
posted on 2013-04-05 17:58 UTC by Dr. Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Center for the Analysis of Sustainable Agricultural Systems (CASAS) - University of California- Berkeley
This is a reply to 4713 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4726]
The issue of balancing benefits and risks between competing interests does open a little bit of a conundrum on how to balance the “…needs of the many against the needs of the few or the one…”. Sorry for not resisting the temptation of paraphrasing Spock in Star Trek on the later part. This is an important issue for defining decision making processes, although it does point to other options.

Let me take my hat of an IFPRI researcher and put on the hat of what I am, a Honduran Citizen. We have approximately 330,000 hectares of maize being produced under mono-cropping and inter-cropping conditions (I am using old data by Barreto and Harkamp, cited ina Hinte's Ph.D. dissertation). This represents approximately 253 thousand farms producing corn in my country. Of these, roughly 63% are smallholders with less than 5 hectares, many in fact are less than 2 hectares. Damage by corn borers and other lepidopterans can be as high as 50% or more. Smallholder farmers are specially hit in Honduras as they have very little access to control mechanisms. Maize is a staple crop in Honduras and thus a food security crop for my country.

It certainly makes sense for the Honduran government, if the desire is to increase productivity and to help secure food security in the country, to explore all potential alternatives including the LMO approach. Note that I am not saying that it is the only approach, rather one more approach. Please also note that we might as well, study all potential ways by which to use this technology combined with other cultural and management practices such as IPM as long as they prove their worth. For a second, assume that a community raises an issue with the planting of LMO corn in the country as it may affect the biodiversity value to the community (e.g. access to indigenous varieties).

How do we then balance the claim and the needs of this community against those of a large share of the smallholder community? How can we elicit the wishes of local and indigenous communities and separate these from some who claim to speak on behalf of such communities?

The response is not necessarily to ban the technology because it may (or does) affect a community. Rather is may be to find ways to mitigate/manage the potential harm. In the case of Honduras, this was actually done by not allowing the cultivation of the LMO in a set of western states and one local community in the south. This was done, at the request of communities in those areas, not necessarily because they represented a specific harm when the technology was evaluated for commercial release. This decision is fully compliant with the formal Honduras agricultural policy and other wishes expressed by different communities in the country.

This bring us to finding way to manage potential issues and to cross check decisions with other existing laws, regulations and policies within the country. This was already pointed out by Lucia de Souza in the case of Brazil and the special autonomy areas with indigenous communities in their own laws.
(edited on 2013-04-05 23:52 UTC by Dr. Jose Falck-Zepeda)
posted on 2013-04-05 18:17 UTC by Dr. Jose Falck-Zepeda, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
This is a reply to 4725 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4728]
I do not know what type of data would one need to conduct an ecological study beyond my own experience with agronomic and entomological studies, and do not know the experience of other scientists in the field. I can certainly attest from my own research in both ex ante and ex post that I have not had too many IPR constraints so far, nothing that one could not manage or side step with diligence. We may have an issue with identifying which producers are adopters if one is collecting data on them, but that is another story.

I am an independent researcher, working at an international non-profit organization, and who has conducted multiple ex ante studies before release. We do not depend on the private companies or on the public and private sector in developing countries for resources, except those obtained through competitive and other grants. We then defend our right to publish and to present results vigorously while protecting the rights and privacy of the persons we collect data from. We at IFPRI, do not have a stated position with regard to a specific technology, just those based on our own research and after judging that the evidence is robust enough. We have entered into constructive dialogues with these groups to address their issues and limitations, especially when looking at innovation and institutional organization issues.

We have examined issues beyond net profit in both types of studies. We and other socioeconomic researchers have looked at productive input use (fertilizer, insecticides), yield distributions, disaggregated impacts by gender and household/production size, changes in labor patterns, seed sources and information networks, impact on informal seed systems, impacts on agricultural crop biodiversity (intra and inter species), socio-demographic characteristics of adoption, impacts of irreversible and reversible costs and benefits, production risk and minimal production safety base, access to credit, impacts on secondary employment, value of remittances, value chain issues, labelling, trade, coexistence... and the list goes on and on.

When conducting an ex ante study we do rely on data collection (usually surveys or small group discussions with producers) to determine a baseline production estimate and from there we have projected potential issues and impacts. As I have indicated before, the only way to really describe the technology is to conduct such assessment under real adoption conditions, not really base such determinations on models or projections, regardless of how complex or state of the art they may be.

One of the determinants I believe most people use to evaluate the quality of the research is indeed how independent the assessor is from a position. Certainly nobody is value free and completely devoid of biases and positions, its alll a matter of degree. If the researcher works in an organization whose institutional mission is to promote a specific production system, then this would indeed constitute a red flag for further determination if such position is against another production system. The researcher’s independence may be questionable. If a researcher has authored publications or has stated that in their view LMOs are not needed and in fact are even harmful, then if the same researcher comes back and presents a study showing that LMOs are harmful, then I believe its prudent to put on the skeptical hat and look even more deeply into the research itself. This fact does not automatically disqualify such research, just puts a greater pressure on the review.

Finally, I hope that I have not misinterpreted you, in that you are not suggesting that only ecological studies can determine the real need and benefits of this and other technologies. I presume that other disciplines such as economics, sociology or anthropology; would be useful in making such determination, being ecology just one of the potentially contributing approaches to such assessment. I will (and have) certainly uphold transparency as one of the many characteristics defining a robust research and assessment process. This has to be coupled with peer review, replicability, full description of methods and data availability, and other standards of research excellence.
(edited on 2013-04-05 23:37 UTC by Dr. Jose Falck-Zepeda)
posted on 2013-04-05 23:30 UTC by Dr. Jose Falck-Zepeda, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
This is a reply to 4728 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4729]
Dr. Falck-Zepeda is indeed fortunate that he has not encounter the IPR constraints that field ecologists (entomologist) commonly encounter, unless they make agreements with corporate interests and agree to binding restrictions. (Recall that 26 US leading corn-belt entomologists wrote a letter to the US-EPA complaining about restrictions on the use of seed for experiments:… “No truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions involving these crops. …Industry is completely driving the bus"...  Are they wrong?). The question of transparency is not about peer reviewed finding, it concerns the milieu in which field ecologists must do their research on GMOs. I and others find these restrictions not conducive to research designed to understanding the ecological bases of the pest problem(s) the technology seeks to solve (i.e. what is the true pest status of the various herbivorous species in the system). For example, what is the true pest status of the various cotton pests in India, and how does weather and say Bt cotton affect their dynamics – is this really known?  In Arizona and southern California, Bt cotton is fantastic against pink bollworm, less so against bollworms, still less so against armyworms while plant bugs are refractory. (I note that after the learning curve,  short season cotton technology and early plow-down introduced before the Bt technology gave the same level of control and yield in southern California.) Now we see reports from Brazil that armyworms are causing losses in GMO corn. And how about the increased use of herbicides associated with the HT technology, and the predictable pollution and the human and environmental health issues they raise. As new technologies are pyramided (e.g., RNA manipulation technology), what will be the compounding effects be? These are but some of fundamental questions the public, the agricultural sector and government policy makers need answered in assessing the need for and efficacy of GMO technologies industry seeks to introduce. Ex ante and ex post evaluations using survey data normally do not answer such questions, though Dr. Falck-Zepeda seem to suggest that such analyses are sufficiently inclusive that we might use them to answer most of the question raised. This I submit is highly doubtful.
posted on 2013-04-06 01:47 UTC by Dr. Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Center for the Analysis of Sustainable Agricultural Systems (CASAS) - University of California- Berkeley
This is a reply to 4729 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4730]
But doesn't a field survey of prevailing insects in an ex post setting can help answer the question of what was the pest attack and what was its subsequent damage? What is stopping anybody from collecting data on insect populations in an ex post setting? in an ex ante situation? what about pesticide use and damage estimates by farmers? We and other teams of socio-economists, entomologists, agronomists and from other disciplines out there, have done this type of data collection. This is  indeed a matter of resources to conduct needed research.

In Honduras, in 2007-2008 we conducted/collected in our first round of research on the Bt/RR maize, entomological studies examining pest populations, collected insects in trap cups, conducted small group discussions, conducted large field trials comparing a Bt/RR maize with its isoline hybrid in a Farmer Field School setting and in large plots with commercial farmers and a survey of producers. These are quite limited and resources strapped activities, but we certainly collected some data which imperfect as it may be, can help answer some questions. We have recently completed in late 2012, the second round of research including survey of producers, which we are in the process of analyzing with colleagues over there.

Seems like you are confusing the question of potential or actual impacts with our ability to predict unintended consequences a posterior (to release) pest dynamics....the later seems to be a completely different question. Surely, understanding the dynamics of pest populations and the issue of pyramiding is quite critical to fully understand our knowledge about these and other technologies impact. Not having all the information or data, should not stop us from using whatever methods and imperfect data we may have now to attempt to predict potential impacts from future adoption.

Furthermore, this should not stop technology development and deployment, as building up knowledge takes a long period of time and we will never achieve full knowledge about nature. We work with what we have to make an assessment. Regulators work with a set of questions, which by definition will always be incomplete. Judgement comes along how sufficient this knowledge is to make a decision. In fact the later state of nature is at the heart of the discussion around Collingridge dilemma...one cannot easily predict impacts until the technology is extensively developed and widely used, but once widely adopted it can and will develop other impacts and is difficult to control its impact pathway ....

I am not implying that ex post (or ex ante) studies can answer all the possible questions out there, in part because of data, methods and analytical/modelling and financial/time resources available. In fact, this is one of my points when doing actual field work. One has to choose carefully the questions to address, some which in spite of best efforts will remain unanswered and/or subject to interpretation by different analysts.

My point is that the only way to know for sure about many of these impacts is to gather actual data from the field under actual conditions in contrast and compared to those predictions that a computer model can bring you. Ex post analysis is not a panacea as there is no guarantee that the data will actually yield the answers. I don't want to be too dogmatic about this, as there is a place in ex post analysis for models, especially when they are guiding the field work and analysis. This is a point of contention between theoretical and applied economists and in other disciplines.
posted on 2013-04-06 02:47 UTC by Dr. Jose Falck-Zepeda, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
This is a reply to 4729 RE: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined? [#4732]
Dear all,
First, I also would like to apologize that I haven’t managed the time to contribute to the discussion more often.
I’d like to remind you that farmers may seek quite different benefits depending on the conditions they face. Farmers in Brazil, for instance, often plant maize twice per year. If you check the numbers of acquiring corn seeds, you’ll see that farmers will opt for the more expensive GM maize seeds when pest pressure is stronger and the cheaper conventional maize seeds when borers presence is lower. That’s why you see two different percentages of GM maize adoption per year in Brazil, the same farmer can plant GM and conventional seed in the same year depending what is the most fitting to his needs. The tendency is increasing adoption of the option or technology available that farmers see as more convenient for their own set of needs, interests, etc.
Insect resistance is nothing unusual, unexpected or even specific to GM technology. Even if resistance to a specific Bt protein develops, it does not mean that you have “armyworms attacks” that is beyond control using other tools and that all types of Bt corn or GM corn is all the sudden useless. There are many other options, in terms of different available Bt corns, many others that can be developed and besides farmers still have other tools. Bt corn adoption in Brazil is high and increasing even when seeds are more expensive. The main reason for the increasing Bt corn adoption is reduced insecticide use and increase in yield in such a way that compensates the premium price for the seeds. The only reason why GM crops adoption is increasing in Brazil is the farmers’ perceived and experienced benefits. Of course, there’s no solution that fits all. There are of course a significant number of farmers that will opt for non-GM, because in their case they see it as a better choice. Farmers’ choice is essential as they face different situations. 
It’s difficult to imagine any technology without a set of perceived benefits being adopted on a large proportion. While GM is not allowed in some cases (if not considered safe, or special situation such as cultivation on an ecological reserve where it doesn’t make sense do any sort of farming, etc.). It’s surely not compulsory to buy GM seeds in any case. The numbers on adoption of available GM crops are impressive in Brazil and some other countries. An estimate of missed socio-economic and reducing environmental footprint opportunities due to delay in the commercial release of GM crops and/or newer, more advanced… technologies might come to an impressive figure. It’s dangerously misguiding when deciding on adopting any technology only considering negative effects; it is also about balancing both positive and negative impacts, comparing to available options, bringing choices to changing needs, etc. I believe that some postings in this forum are too focused on the negative aspects, even when they lack strong evidence or it is not a situation that is true under all conditions but only to some specific cases.
Best regards, Lúcia
posted on 2013-04-06 08:58 UTC by Ms. Lúcia de Souza, PRRI - Public Research and Regulation Initiative/ANBio (Associação Nacional de Biossegurança - Brazilian Biosafety Association)
This is a reply to 4630 SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4733]
Dear participants,

I am a little puzzled since the message n° 4713 of Dr. Zepeda.

First, whereas I have no doubt in Dr. Zepeda' s experience in capacity building relative to SEC, it seems to me, Dr. Zepeda, that your posting n° 4713 was not adequately related to the subject presently in discussion.

You indeed already abundantly informed about the fact that taking SEC into account would not be an easy task for policy makers, which obviously should be the case for many important and responsible political decisions.

Besides, whereas inside countries policy makers have indeed to make choices and compromises between different political issues/constraints/challenges ( and among other, as you said, between trade and preservation of health and environment ), the issue to be discussed here is not primarily on how to make such compromises, except if they are compromises to make between various SEC related to the wording of Art. 26.1; it is neither to decide, on behalf of the sovereign right of developing countries,  which LMO is good or not, neither to give precise recommendations about this to policy makers of developing countries, or to influence them to take or not SEC into account in their decision process. We repeatedly agreed on the fact that LMO-related SECs and conclusions about SEC analyses can be partly different between countries. ( Yes, Mr. Ben Durham, we all agree on this, don' t worry ) even if I agreed with some participants that some related SEC could deserve generic considerations applicable everywhere.
We are here to find general agreements on how to frame what can be concerned LMO-related SEC in the context of Art. 26.1 of the Cartagena Protocol, thus in relation with conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity ( which is a very important challenge that can involve scientific innovations and collaborations ), especially taking into account the value of biological biodiversity for indigenous and local communities; this is the level of capacity-building we are supposed to offer here.
Policy makers should in any case be aware that there is no incompatibility, by reverse, between food security and preservation of biological diversity.

In order to find some common agreement on this, we very logically these last weeks partly made reference to the international agreements that have roles in the protection of environment/biodiversity and of indigenous and local communities, whereas this should still be the matter of discussion under the last question of this forum next week.

As recognized by Ben David Durham, policy makers have indeed a responsibility to develop policies that turn around harmful agricultural practices, that protect the environment, and that prevent the exploitation of local and indigenous communities, and this especially if they have signed/ratified international agreements that have such roles.
Again, this is not necessarily an easy task ( but an important one ), and can indeed need some capacity-building; but each country should normally be the best placed to know the adequate local needs and values that have to be respected in relation to Art. 26.1 and to implement the country-related rights of indigenous and local communities.
One capacity-building tool on which all countries can in any case find support is the experience in other countries with same LMOs even if, as already repeated, such experiences cannot be integrally transposed in other environments.
Beside, many multilateral and bilateral capacity-building initiatives already exist for what is concerning the importance of biodiversity preservation to reach the MDGs.
Also, the Guidelines developed under the CBD and reminded by the Secretariat in this forum ( "Guidelines for incorporating biodiversity-related issues into environmental impact assessment legislation and /or process and in strategic environmental assessment" and the Voluntary guidelines on biodiversity-inclusive environmental impact assessment ) are tools of capacity-building.

But in order to implement well their engagements towards these international agreements, policy makers should establish concrete measures; similarly, precise conservation objectives have to be defined ( and conservation measures have to be established ) to be able to correctly implement LMO RA and RM guidance. Otherwise, how to make proper assessments, even with supposedly ad hoc scientific methods ? What are the references to take into consideration ?

I am also very puzzled with parts of last Dr. Zepeda posting saying: " Seems you are confusing the question of potential or actual impacts with ability to predict unintended consequences a posteriori............. One cannot easily predict impacts until the technology is extensively developed and widely used. "
It seems to me that environmentalist experts can and have predicted, foreseen, some unintended essential impacts, that will be unavoidable without risk management. And it is precisely the reason for some risk management measures that have been established. An important issue can then be the feasibility and the sustainability and the SEC considerations of these risk management measures themselves. In summary, in some case, the official refusal of the LMO could be the best decision, taking into account the precautionary principle.
And Dr. Zepeda also said : " Only way to know for sure is to gather actual data from the field" . I agree that field trials can be useful to look for some unforeseen impacts, as said also by Ben Durham. But I do not agree with him that local communities, farmers, should just be allowed to test these new technologies without proper information and without first assessment by independent experts helping policy makers. And official field trials should be upscaling step by step ( because small scale will not reflect the reality of large scale ) and in various environments before placing on the market at large scale.

To come back more closely to the question of this week: I attach another among many articles related to Indigenous and Local communities ( "The Preservation and Maintenance of the Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities: The Role of Education." By Dr. Zane Ma Rhea, AARE Conference, Melbourne 2004 ). This article contains some definitions on indigenous and local communities; this shows again that, while indigenous people have no official international definition, the notion of "indigenous" is rather well clear ( ethnic minority, cultural, social and legal institutions different from the majority group of the country, ancestral occupation of the territory before arrival of new invaders, self-identification ), whereas the notion of "local communities" is more vague ( group of closely interacting people, with commune values, on a limited geographical scale, that have developed local adaptations of knowledge considered as "traditional" practices; are not always different ethnically, culturally, from the majority group of the country ). They are often considered together ( indigenous and local communities ) especially because their "traditional" values and practices ( in particular towards environment, nature, agriculture, medicine ) have been recognized as important to be protected and preserved and learnt with a view of the local but also general protection of the environment and of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Best regards to all of you, and have a nice end of week.

Disclaimer : http://www.health.belgium.be/eportal/disclaimer/
posted on 2013-04-06 09:50 UTC by Ms. Lucette Flandroy, Belgium
This is a reply to 4733 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4734]
I believe that the source of my and perhaps other contributions confusion on this issue, is that we keep on moving back and forth between three distinct issues 1) those biodiversity impacts arising from the adoption of LMOs, 2) all the long lists of broader socioeconomic impacts posted in this forum that may be derived from the biodiversity impacts arising from the adoption of LMOs, and 3) all the broader socioeconomic impacts induced by the adoption of LMOs. In my mind these are three distinct aspects in the discussion but there is a fine line dividing them. As we have recognized in this forum, Article 26 seems to cover issues 1) and 2), while we have indicated that countries decide on item 3) in their domestic measures.

Unfortunately for issues 2) and 3) above, one does have to go beyond the biodiversity/environmental impacts and discuss the multiple issues related to broad socioeconomic impacts even if countries decide only to qualitatively indicate that these impacts may occur. One still has to at least make an assessment of which issues and their likelihood of occurrence and potential harm. Furthermore, the common denominator here, the regulators and/or decision makers in most countries are likely to deal with the three issues listed above.

Asking regulators/decision makers to consider these three issues separately, I believe is a bit difficult for them and frankly for everybody who will have to deal with all three issues. Thus the focus of my last contributions in trying to address issues of evidence, proof, lines of causality, decision making processes and sufficiency in responding to Dr. Gutierrez statements about specific ecological/environmental studies and IPR limitations.

Referring to your statement ” But I do not agree with him that local communities, farmers, should just be allowed to test these new technologies without proper information and without first assessment by independent experts helping policy makers”. I apologize if I was not clear about this, but at no point have I indicated nor have -or will- I support releasing a technology without a regulatory assessment and formal decision making by a competent authority. In my contributions I am talking about the ex post measurement of a broad set of socioeconomic (and beyond) impacts and the verification of projections done ex ante here. I am thinking especially of those impacts that go beyond specific technical issues which by nature are quite complex and interrelated.

In spite of the many sophisticated models we may have in economics or sociology, there is no way yet to predict or anticipate broad socioeconomic impacts to the level of specificity that models in other disciplines can perform at this point can do. These issues can usually be identified only in ex post studies. Socioeconomic models are good at projecting specific outcomes such as net profit or impacts on financial risk. Furthermore these models are good for projecting broad impacts on labor use or disaggregated impacts by production size. At IFPRI we have used extensively economic model to project impacts on childhood and pregnant women malnutrition levels or impacts on poverty distribution. So these models are getting better.

An aside. Obviously, there are excellent ex ante assessments (projections) and a quite bad ex post measurement (surveys, field entomological experiments). This is a matter of judging the quality of the research. However, if the issues is measuring the multiple broad socioeconomic impacts derived from the adoption of an LMO nothing beats a well conducted ex post study as we are measuring things as they unfold. As I mentioned before, limitations in answering questions come from resource limitations and there is no guarantee that we will be able to answer all questions. Answers may be out there....

I fully agree with you that we need to re-focus our discussion in providing a clear and practical set of guidelines that will help countries parties the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety make decisions about Article 26 and their own national measures. Although the later may not be the purview of this forum, I certainly will have to address these in my work. To accomplish this, I presume that we will need to re-focus on the development of questions, definition of concepts, procedures and processes, and implementation issues. To me the rich discussion so far has been quite excellent at providing some responses. I would also suggest that other issues peripheral to the discussion (purported statements of impact and harm, IPR, etc.) to be clearly identified as such in the final report of this discussion.

Have a great weekend!!
(edited on 2013-04-06 20:56 UTC by Dr. Jose Falck-Zepeda)
posted on 2013-04-06 14:21 UTC by Dr. Jose Falck-Zepeda, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
This is a reply to 4734 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4735]
Just a last note. In the discussion in the Technology Assessment literature, there is an unfolding and further work being done on the so-called Collingridge dillemma. As described in Wikipedia;

"An important problem, TA has to deal with it, is the so-called Collingridge dilemma: on the one hand, impacts of new technologies cannot be easily predicted until the technology is extensively developed and widely used; on the other hand, control or change of a technology is difficult as soon as it is widely used."

Later discussions of this issue is in the purview of the European Parliament / Science and Technology Options Assessment, EC Institute of Prospective Technical Studies (EC-IPTS) and others centers of technology assessment.
posted on 2013-04-06 14:32 UTC by Dr. Jose Falck-Zepeda, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
This is a reply to 4735 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4738]
Dear Participants:

I have followed the discussion, but unfortunately until now I had the time to participate.

Humanity depends on natural ecosystems like: rain forests, forests, etc. and modified by humans, such as agricultural fields, forest plantations, etc.. This ecosystem along with their constituent species and their genetic variation is what comprises biodiversity.

This fact must be taken into account to answer the question: How Could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and Local Communities be Measured or Determined? I consider the approach that this is a biocultural phenomenon which biodiversity and culture are involved. [Mexico ranks first in the Americas and fifth in the world by the number of existing languages (291 living languages) and in his territory this linguistic variation coincides with the areas of greatest biological diversity.] Indeed, as mentioned by Lucette Flandroy we must take into account biodiversity and SEC.

Dr. Mercedes Roca posted if question 3 is addressed to the evaluation of the negative effects of globalization on agriculture or the potential impact of a specific genetic modification in a specific plant? I believe that we cannot separate the context in which technology is applied, because as said by Lucette Flandroy (# 4689) GM agriculture is being introduced in the same socio-economic structure, with the same parameters than conventional farming. For example, Dr. Lúcia de Souza (4732) said that in “you’ll see that farmers will opt for the more expensive GM maize seeds when pest pressure is stronger and the cheaper conventional maize seeds when borers presence is lower”. In Mexico, last year a farmer sowed Bt cotton and for the refuge he wanted a conventional cotton seed, however, the company sold the HT seed instead of the conventional one. Falling in monopolistic practices endanger the freedom of choice of the producer and it is not because of technology, but the context in which it is applied.

Genetic modification is a tool, but we cannot compare it with other tools used in agriculture (Sachs # 4657) that have more quantitative results of increased yields, genetic modification is qualitatively different, the release of a LMO into the environment is not reversible, which affects biodiversity. The farmer's decision to cultivate more land, (Sachs # 4652) can affect the biodiversity of local communities, as I explained in the previous question a week ago, in the case of extension planting soybeans GM in the Maya Mexican region that produces honey is for that GM seed that European consumers reject Mexican honey.

As was mentioned in several comments this week conventional methods of economic valuation of biodiversity are not suitable for measuring the biological diversity to indigenous and local communities, documents proposed this week to make this assessment provide appropriate methods to be tested in practice.
posted on 2013-04-07 21:52 UTC by Dr. Michelle Chauvet, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana
This is a reply to 4738 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4739]
With respect to the last posting(#4738), can Dr Chauvet please elaborate a little further on the issue behind the refugia?  A HT (herbicide tolerant) GM variety will work as well as a conventional non-GM variety for a refuge. Is the point then that the farmer was not given the choice?


Ben Durham
posted on 2013-04-07 22:10 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
This is a reply to 4739 RE: SEC - Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity toindigenous and local communities be measured or determined? - A new messagehas been posted to the forum [#4743]
Exactly, the point is that he couldn’t choose and had to pay for a more expensive seed. Since there isn’t a public seed institution to commercialized seeds, farmers have to buy it to private companies only.

Best regards!
Michelle Chauvet
posted on 2013-04-07 23:03 UTC by Dr. Michelle Chauvet, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana