We, the participants of the International Conference on Agri-Biotechnology and Biosafety Communication, held on 12-14 April 2015 in Nairobi, representing the academic and research community, civil society, law makers and policy advisors, the media, farmers and other stakeholders drawn from 30 countries across the world, collectively issue the following statement resulting from this conference:
- The world faces unique and particular food security challenges in future, as the human population increases towards a likely 9.6 billion by 2050 and climate change raises additional problems for agriculture in terms of water and temperature stress, increased disasters and extreme weather;
- Some progress has been made in meeting the Millennium Development Goals on extreme poverty, malnutrition, infant mortality and food security. Much work remains to be done to ensure that citizens of all countries enjoy the full opportunity of healthy and sustainable access to food;
- Biotechnology and genetic engineering, while not being the only solution to these challenges, offers great potential in addressing many specific concerns in food production, including micro-nutrient deficiencies, productivity and yield gaps, pest and disease problems;
- There exists an international scientific consensus that the “genetic modification” process itself does not raise any risks over conventional breeding approaches
- The debate around genetically modified products continues and is often characterized by emotive and misleading information about purported dangers that are not supported by any scientific evidence;
- Highly restrictive policy and regulatory environments exist in parts of the world, greatly hampering the capacity of farmers to access innovations that will improve farm productivity, household incomes and food security;
Hereby declare our commitment and determination:
i. To work collectively to improve the communications environment, including the use of the latest as well as traditional communication strategies to ensure effectiveness.
ii. To work inclusively, with all stakeholders, including those opposed to this technology, in an effort to build consensus and common understanding.
iii. To promote choice, so that farmers, consumers, and other end-users can make informed decisions that reflect their best interests.
iv. To address the concerns of people at all levels, to ensure the widest participation possible.
v. To demonstrate how agricultural production challenges can be tackled using biotechnology, and how it can directly contribute to food and nutrition security, poverty alleviation, job creation and sustainable economic development.
vi. To support credible scientists who are most trusted by the public and governments, to be effective communicators and to have a closer relationship with media and policymakers to ensure that scientifically-informed messages reach target audiences.
In particular, we gratefully acknowledge the active participation of Members of the Kenya National Assembly (KNA), and many senior government representatives who participated in this conference, and welcome their invaluable inputs to ensure the current ban on importation and consumption of GM foods in Kenya is lifted.