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May 2009 Updates

Physicians' Association Calls for Moratorium on GMO Foods

American Academy of Environmental Medicine
Press Advisory
May 19, 2009

Wichita, KS - The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) today released its position paper on Genetically Modified foods stating that "GM foods pose a serious health risk" and calling for a moratorium on GM foods. Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes "there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects" and that "GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health." The AAEM calls for:

  • A moratorium on GM food, implementation of immediate long term safety testing and labeling of GM food.
  • Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community and the public to avoid GM foods.
  • Physicians to consider the role of GM foods in their patients' disease processes.
  • More independent long term scientific studies to begin gathering data to investigate the role of GM foods on human health.

"Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients' and the public's health," said Dr. Amy Dean, PR chair and Board Member of AAEM. "Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions," said Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, President of AAEM. "The most common foods in North America which are consumed that are GMO are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil." The AAEM's position paper on Genetically Modified foods can be found at AAEM is an international association of physicians and other professionals dedicated to addressing the clinical aspects of environmental health.

About AAEM The American Academy of Environmental Medicine was founded in 1965, and is an international association of physicians and other professionals interested in the clinical aspects of humans and their environment. The Academy is interested in expanding the knowledge of interactions between human individuals and their environment, as these may be demonstrated to be reflected in their total health. The AAEM provides research and education in the recognition, treatment and prevention of illnesses induced by exposures to biological and chemical agents encountered in air, food and water. More information is available at


Doctors Warn: Avoid Genetically Modified Food

By Jeffrey M. Smith
Institute for Responsible Technology
May 19, 2009

On May 19th, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called on "Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM (genetically modified) foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks."[1] They called for a moratorium on GM foods, long-term independent studies, and labeling. AAEM's position paper stated, "Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food," including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. They conclude, "There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation," as defined by recognized scientific criteria. "The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies."

More and more doctors are already prescribing GM-free diets. Dr. Amy Dean, a Michigan internal medicine specialist, and board member of AAEM says, "I strongly recommend p

at strictly non-genetically modified foods." Ohio allergist Dr. John Boyles says "I used to test for soy allergies all the time, but now that soy is genetically engineered, it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it."

Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, President of AAEM, says, "Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions." World renowned biologist Pushpa M. Bhargava goes one step further. After reviewing more than 600 scientific journals, he concludes that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a major contributor to the sharply deteriorating health of Americans.

Pregnant women and babies at great risk

Among the population, biologist David Schubert of the Salk Institute warns that "children are the most likely to be adversely effected by toxins and other dietary problems" related to GM foods. He says without adequate studies, the children become "the experimental animals."[2]

The experience of actual GM-fed experimental animals is scary. When GM soy was fed to female rats, most of their babies died within three weeks - compared to a 10% death rate among the control group fed natural soy.[3] The GM-fed babies were also smaller, and later had problems getting pregnant.[4]

When male rats were fed GM soy, their testicles actually changed color - from the normal pink to dark blue.[5] Mice fed GM soy had altered young sperm.[6] Even the embryos of GM fed parent mice had significant changes in their DNA.[7] Mice fed GM corn in an Austrian government study had fewer babies, which were also smaller than normal.[8]

Reproductive problems also plague livestock. Investigations in the state of Haryana, India revealed that most buffalo that ate GM cottonseed had complications such as premature deliveries, abortions, infertility, and prolapsed uteruses. Many calves died. In the US, about two dozen farmers reported thousands of pigs became sterile after consuming certain GM corn varieties. Some had false pregnancies; others gave birth to bags of water. Cows and bulls also became infertile when fed the same corn.[9]

In the US population, the incidence of low birth weight babies, infertility, and infant mortality are all escalating.

Food designed to produce toxin

GM corn and cotton are engineered to produce their own built-in pesticide in every cell. When bugs bite the plant, the poison splits open their stomach and kills them. Biotech companies claim that the pesticide, called Bt - produced from soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis - has a history of safe use, since organic farmers and others use Bt bacteria spray for natural insect control. Genetic engineers insert Bt genes into corn and cotton, so the plants do the killing.

The Bt-toxin produced in GM plants, however, is thousands of times more concentrated than natural Bt spray, is designed to be more toxic,[10] has properties of an allergen, and unlike the spray, cannot be washed off the plant.

Moreover, studies confirm that even the less toxic natural bacterial spray is harmful. When dispersed by plane to kill gypsy moths in the Pacific Northwest, about 500 people reported allergy or flu-like symptoms. Some had to go to the emergency room.[11],[12]

The exact same symptoms are now being reported by farm workers throughout India, from handling Bt cotton.[13] In 2008, based on medical records, the Sunday India reported, "Victims of itching have increased massively this year . . . related to BT cotton farming."[14]

GMOs provoke immune reactions

AAEM states, "Multiple animal studies show significant immune dysregulation," including increase in cytokines, which are "associated with asthma, allergy, and inflammation" - all on the rise in the US.

According to GM food safety expert Dr. Arpad Pusztai, changes in the immune status of GM animals are "a consistent feature of all the studies."[15] Even Monsanto's own research showed significant immune system changes in rats fed Bt corn.[16] A November 2008 by the Italian government also found that mice have an immune reaction to Bt corn.[17]

GM soy and corn each contain two new proteins with allergenic properties,[18] GM soy has up to seven times more trypsin inhibitor - a known soy allergen,[19] and skin prick tests show some people react to GM, but not to non-GM soy.[20] Soon after GM soy was introduced to the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50%. Perhaps the US epidemic of food allergies and asthma is a casualty of genetic manipulation.

Animals dying in large numbers

In India, animals graze on cotton plants after harvest. But when shepherds let sheep graze on Bt cotton plants, thousands died. Post mortems showed severe irritation and black patches in both intestines and liver (as well as enlarged bile ducts). Investigators said preliminary evidence "strongly suggests that the sheep mortality was due to a toxin. . . . most probably Bt-toxin."[21] In a small follow-up feeding study by the Deccan Development Society, all sheep fed Bt cotton plants died within 30 days; those that grazed on natural cotton plants remained healthy.

In a small village in Andhra Pradesh, buffalo grazed on cotton plants for eight years without incident. On January 3rd, 2008, the buffalo grazed on Bt cotton plants for the first time. All 13 were sick the next day; all died within 3 days.[22]

Bt corn was also implicated in the deaths of cows in Germany, and horses, water buffaloes, and chickens in The Philippines.[23]

In lab studies, twice the number of chickens fed Liberty Link corn died; 7 of 20 rats fed a GM tomato developed bleeding stomachs; another 7 of 40 died within two weeks.[24] Monsanto's own study showed evidence of poisoning in major organs of rats fed Bt corn, according to top French toxicologist G. E. Seralini.[25]

Worst finding of all - GMOs remain inside of us

The only published human feeding study revealed what may be the most dangerous problem from GM foods. The gene inserted into GM soy transfers into the DNA of bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function.[26] This means that long after we stop eating GMOs, we may still have potentially harmful GM proteins produced continuously inside of us. Put more plainly, eating a corn chip produced from Bt corn might transform our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories, possibly for the rest of our lives.

When evidence of gene transfer is reported at medical conferences around the US, doctors often respond by citing the huge increase of gastrointestinal problems among their patients over the last decade. GM foods might be colonizing the gut flora of North Americans.

Warnings by government scientists ignored and denied

Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had warned about all these problems even in the early 1990s. According to documents released from a lawsuit, the scientific consensus at the agency was that GM foods were inherently dangerous, and might create hard-to-detect allergies, poisons, gene transfer to gut bacteria, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged their superiors to require rigorous long-term tests.[27] But the White House had ordered the agency to promote biotechnology and the FDA responded by recruiting Michael Taylor, Monsanto's former attorney, to head up the formation of GMO policy. That policy, which is in effect today, denies knowledge of scientists' concerns and declares that no safety studies on GMOs are required. It is up to Monsanto and the other biotech companies to determine if their foods are safe. Mr. Taylor later became Monsanto's vice president.

Dangerously few studies, untraceable diseases

AAEM states, "GM foods have not been properly tested" and "pose a serious health risk." Not a single human clinical trial on GMOs has been published. A 2007 review of published scientific literature on the "potential toxic effects/health risks of GM plants" revealed "that experimental data are very scarce." The author concludes his review by asking, "Where is the scientific evidence showing that GM plants/food are toxicologically safe, as assumed by the biotechnology companies?"[28]

Famed Canadian geneticist David Suzuki answers, "The experiments simply haven't been done and we now have become the guinea pigs." He adds, "Anyone that says, 'Oh, we know that this is perfectly safe,' I say is either unbelievably stupid or deliberately lying."[29]

Dr. Schubert points out, "If there are problems, we will probably never know because the cause will not be traceable and many diseases take a very long time to develop." If GMOs happen to cause immediate and acute symptoms with a unique signature, perhaps then we might have a chance to trace the cause.

This is precisely what happened during a US epidemic in the late 1980s. The disease was fast acting, deadly, and caused a unique measurable change in the blood - but it still took more than four years to identify that an epidemic was even occurring. By then it had killed about 100 Americans and caused 5,000-10,000 people to fall sick or become permanently disabled. It was caused by a genetically engineered brand of a food supplement called L-tryptophan.

If other GM foods are contributing to the rise of autism, obesity, diabetes, asthma, cancer, heart disease, allergies, reproductive problems, or any other common health problem now plaguing Americans, we may never know. In fact, since animals fed GMOs had such a wide variety of problems, susceptible people may react to GM food with multiple symptoms. It is therefore telling that in the first nine years after the large scale introduction of GM crops in 1996, the incidence of people with three or more chronic diseases nearly doubled, from 7% to 13%.[30]

To help identify if GMOs are causing harm, the AAEM asks their "members, the medical community, and the independent scientific community to gather case studies potentially related to GM food consumption and health effects, begin epidemiological research to investigate the role of GM foods on human health, and conduct safe methods of determining the effect of GM foods on human health."

Citizens need not wait for the results before taking the doctors advice to avoid GM foods. People can stay away from anything with soy or corn derivatives, cottonseed and canola oil, and sugar from GM sugar beets - unless it says organic or "non-GMO." There is a pocket Non-GMO Shopping Guide, co-produced by the Institute for Responsible Technology and the Center for Food Safety, which is available as a download, as well as in natural food stores and in many doctors' offices.

If even a small percentage of people choose non-GMO brands, the food industry will likely respond as they did in Europe - by removing all GM ingredients. Thus, AAEM's non-GMO prescription may be a watershed for the US food supply.

Footnotes available on request


SpinWatch Condemns Vatican GM Event as a "Charade by Vested Interests"

May 13, 2009

A meeting on Genetic Modification (GM) being held at the Vatican later this week[1] has been condemned as "a total farce" by SpinWatch, an independent non-profit making organisation which monitors the role of PR, propaganda and lobbying.[2]

Starting 15 May, the "study week" has been organised on behalf of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences by the GM scientist, Ingo Potrykus, the co-inventor of Golden Rice.[3] Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the Academy's chancellor, told the Catholic News Service that the aim was to gather "an objective group of experts" in a search for "scientific clarity" on the subject.[4]

But the 40 or so participants listed on the academy's website [5] are all GM supporters, with many well known for their extreme pro-GM views or having vested interests in GMO adoption.

"This event appears to have been hijacked by the GM lobby. Objectivity is the last thing anyone should expect from these 'experts'," said Prof. David Miller of SpinWatch, which has recently launched SpinProfiles, a new online database which tracks, among others, experts with vested interests or who spin for industry.[6]

"One of the participants, Eric Sachs is a Monsanto employee,[7] another, Robert Paarlberg, is an advisor to Monsanto's CEO[8], and Peter Raven and Roger Beachy head up institutions that have benefited from Monsanto's corporate largesse to the tune of many millions of dollars.[9] Yet another speaker, C.S. Prakash, runs the AgBioWorld campaign, which has been used as a vehicle by Monsanto and its PR people for propaganda attacks on the company's critics."

"This event is just the kind of charade by vested interests," said Prof. Miller, "that SpinProfiles was set up to challenge."[10]

According to Claire Robinson, the managing editor of SpinProfiles, some of the participants are well known for their extreme views. She points, as an example, to Henry I Miller from the right-wing Hoover Institution.[11] Even though the US regulatory regime for GMO approvals is generally regarded as lax[12], Miller has condemned the regulations as excessive.[13]

Robinson said, "Like some of the other contributors to the Vatican event, Henry I. Miller is a free market fundamentalist. He has even described Corporate Social Responsibility, which encourages companies to take account of the social and environmental impact of their actions, as 'a 21st century Trojan horse designed to destroy free enterprise from within.' According to Hoover's Miller, right-minded company executives, or 'corporate warriors' as Miller terms them, 'understand that businesses don't have social responsibilities'. Their 'legal and moral responsibility', Miller says, is 'to pursue the best interests of their employers - interests that relate primarily to making as much money as possible'."[14]

Henry I. Miller is also an example of how a number of the speakers at the Vatican event are linked to lobby groups. Miller is an adjunct scholar at the Monsanto-backed Competitive Enterprise Institute, which co-founded the AgBioWorld lobby. He's also a member of the scientific advisory board of the climate-change denying George C. Marshall Institute, and a director of the Monsanto-backed American Council on Science and Health.[15]

Another contributor who, according to Robinson, exemplifies the "farcical extremity of this event" is Andrew Apel, who has been invited to talk about the funding of organisations which are critical of GMOs.

"Not only is Apel not a scientist or an expert of any kind on the topic he's speaking on, his only claims to fame seems to be a decade or so spent editing a newsletter aimed at the biotech industry, and making unfounded and inflammatory attacks on critics of GM crops. Apel has sought, for instance, to link scientists critical of GM crops to the 9/11 attackers, claiming soon after the New York attacks that two women scientists had 'blood' on their hands!"[16]

"Is this the Pontifical Academy's idea of objectivity?" asked Robinson, who says it is also noticeable how many of the speakers at an event about feeding the world are based in North America (the majority) and are male (all bar two[17]).

Robinson said, "The speakers at the Pontifical Academy event, with their obsession with GMOs, represent a narrow privileged clique that is firmly stuck in the past. Their vision is completely at odds with that of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), a process involving 400 scientific experts that was initiated by the World Bank with the co-sponsorship of the United Nations. The IAASTD, which has already been signed up to by 60 governments, sees no major role for GM crops in meeting the challenge of hunger and poverty. It also calls for inclusiveness in directing agricultural research and development, notably the inclusion of women, who grow most of the food in the developing world."[18]

The views of the speakers at the Pontifical Academy event are also seriously at odds with those of Catholic development organisations, as CIDSE - the international alliance of Catholic development agencies - has made clear in a letter to Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo.[19] The concerns of many in the developing world, including local Churches in Asia, Latin America and Africa, are also reflected in the working document presented by Pope Benedict for this fall's Synod of Bishops for Africa.[20] This points out that using GM crops risks "ruining small landholders, abolishing traditional methods of seeding and making farmers dependent on the production companies" selling their GMOs.[21]

"The Vatican needs to listen to the voice of the Church in Africa," commented Robinson, "not a narrow clique of hard-core GM extremists, many of whom have vested interests in the adoption of this dangerous technology."

Footnotes available on request


Glyphosate Formulations Induce Apoptosis and Necrosis in Human Umbilical, Embryonic, and Placental Cells

By Nora Benachour and Gilles-Eric Seralini
Chemical Research in Toxicology
June 16, 2009

We have evaluated the toxicity of four glyphosate (G)-based herbicides in Roundup (R) formulations, from 105 times dilutions, on three different human cell types. This dilution level is far below agricultural recommendations and corresponds to low levels of residues in food or feed. The formulations have been compared to G alone and with its main metabolite AMPA or with one known adjuvant of R formulations, POEA. HUVEC primary neonate umbilical cord vein cells have been tested with 293 embryonic kidney and JEG3 placental cell lines. All R formulations cause total cell death within 24 h, through an inhibition of the mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase activity, and necrosis, by release of cytosolic adenylate kinase measuring membrane damage. They also induce apoptosis via activation of enzymatic caspases 3/7 activity. This is confirmed by characteristic DNA fragmentation, nuclear shrinkage (pyknosis), and nuclear fragmentation (karyorrhexis), which is demonstrated by DAPI in apoptotic round cells. G provokes only apoptosis, and HUVEC are 100 times more sensitive overall at this level. The deleterious effects are not proportional to G concentrations but rather depend on the nature of the adjuvants. AMPA and POEA separately and synergistically damage cell membranes like R but at different concentrations. Their mixtures are generally even more harmful with G. In conclusion, the R adjuvants like POEA change human cell permeability and amplify toxicity induced already by G, through apoptosis and necrosis. The real threshold of G toxicity must take into account the presence of adjuvants but also G metabolism and time-amplified effects or bioaccumulation. This should be discussed when analyzing the in vivo toxic actions of R. This work clearly confirms that the adjuvants in Roundup formulations are not inert. Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death around residual levels to be expected, especially in food and feed derived from R formulation-treated crops.

Read the study PDF


Canadian Wheat Board Resists GM Wheat Collaboration

By Caroline Scott-Thomas
May 20, 2009

The Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) has said that it will not support genetically modified wheat - at least until certain conditions are met.

The CWB made its position known after a group of wheat industry representatives from Canada, the US and Australia signed a joint statement last week vowing to work together to bring genetically modified (GM) wheat to market.

CWB spokesperson Maureen Fitzhenry told that consumer resistance to GM wheat and unresolved issues about segregation of GM and non-GM wheat currently limit the viability of its commercialization.

She said: "We are certainly not negative about GM, but we don't think the time is right . . . We think it's good that there's discussion but we are just hoping that there is enough recognition of the major obstacles that remain."

Acceptance and agronomics

The organization, which sells wheat and barley in Western Canada, was strongly opposed to the introduction of Monsanto's Roundup Ready wheat in 2004. Fitzhenry said that while "resistance to a certain herbicide is all very good", the CWB would want to see added benefits such as tolerance to disease - and greater consumer acceptance - before it would support bringing GM traits to market.

"Right now there is no way to segregate GM from non-GM," said Fitzhenry. "At present even one kernel of GM wheat is unacceptable to customers. We think there is still a long way to go and we can't see a market value or greatly improved agronomics . . . All the evidence we have is that there is still a lot of resistance from consumers."

She added that the CWB is actively trying to work to gain greater consumer acceptance of GM wheat, and to develop more tolerance about separation of GM and non-GM wheat.

GM research

Last week's joint statement from wheat industry representatives expressed concern that as GM varieties of other crops, such as soy and corn, have begun to dominate in North America, wheat is being sidelined as a less lucrative option for farmers.

It said: "Lack of private and public investment in wheat research has left wheat development behind the advances in competing commodity crops, and has also led to a shortage of scientific expertise in wheat research generally."

Fitzhenry said that she considers it a good thing that major players in the wheat industry have chosen to synchronize their efforts because "otherwise it becomes an issue of competitive rivalries" but added that Canadian farmers are well-informed about consumer resistance to GM wheat and are not likely to support its introduction unless attitudes change.


Mount Kenya Declaration on the Global Crisis and Africa's Responsibility

Statement from the African Biodiversity Network May 31, 2009

From 23 - 31 May 2009, the African Biodiversity Network (ABN) have gathered together near Mount Kenya, 25 organisations from 10 countries that work with farmers and local communities on the issues of biodiversity, food sovereignty, livelihoods, climate change, traditional knowledge, culture and community rights in Africa.

We are deeply aware that the planet is facing multiple interconnected crises which will have an even bigger impact on Africa, even though Africa is not responsible for these crises. On the one hand, there is the stark and devastating impact of the food and financial crises, which will be compounded by the impact of climate change.

We are very concerned about the devastating impact that the food and financial crises and climate change is having on the people of Africa and their environment. People are losing their livelihoods, houses, jobs at an alarming rate and at the same time, farmers, pastoralists and local communities have to cope with unpredictable changes in their environment. We concur with the Indigenous Peoples11 Anchorage Declaration of April 2009, that the Earth is no longer in a period of climate change but in a climate crisis.

We are outraged at the financial crisis which was caused by global financial institutions accumulating unimaginable wealth while speculating with ordinary people's hard-earned savings. This economic meltdown is now pushing many countries over the brink and is adding another estimated 104 million people to the 1 billion permanently hungry people in the world.

We are also aware that the food crisis and recurring famines in Africa are not something new but is caused by basic structural injustices entrenched over decades, now reaching new levels of deprivation because of the speculative trading of food on international markets.

We find the current scale of "crisis capitalism" intolerable and strongly reject the cynical attempts of corporates that target Africa for further exploitation of the food and climate crises by turning it into economic opportunities rather than trying to solve it.

We see the underlying cause of the crises as the globalisation of the industrial system which inevitably results in the concentration of capital and power in the hands of a few, generating ever growing poverty and ecological destruction resulting in global climate change. Now the same thinking that created these numerous toxic debts is promoting many "False Solutions" that are exacerbating the crises. There is an intensified scramble for Africa's land and ecological wealth facilitated by governments who continue to be dominated by corporate interests.

We reject these False Solutions which include:

  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), which, we are told will solve hunger and climate change, but have inste
  • ad caused widespread contamination of farmers' crops and our food while increasing the use of pesticides which destroy biodiversity and health. The ultimate aim of GMO companies is control over our seed and thus food system through the patenting of all forms of life. These crops require highly industrialised farming conditions, which release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, thus a major contributing factor to climate change. In spite of this, GMO proponents are now claiming that they can find GMO fixes for both the climate change and the food crisis.
  • AGRA - A New Green Revolution is imposed on Africa by a collaborative effort between amongst others, the Bill and Melinda Gates and Rockefeller Foundations, the World Bank, and agro-industries to replace Africa's seeds, crops and knowledge with hybrids, GMOs, fertilisers and pesticides. Because this industrial system needs large tracts of land, AGRA is also funding the push to change land tenure systems, privatise land and so facilitating the rapid change of land from community custodianship to just another commodity in the pockets of investors. The sheer amount of money and political influence the Green Revolution push has behind it, is now dominating the debate on agriculture, pushing for stricter intellectual property rights on seeds, weak biosafety legislation, in the process narrowing Africa's options for food sovereignty both on country and local level.
  • Agrofuels (or biofuels) are promoted in Northern countries as the solution to climate change, as providing an alternative to fossil fuels. But they are driving an unprecedented land grab across Africa, and leading to forced evictions, deforestation, and rising food prices. We challenge the myth spread by corporations and corrupt governments that there is plenty of free land, going spare in Africa. We in Africa know of the challenges and conflicts we already face from the competition for land and water. A number of other solutions to climate change are also turning out to be little more than business opportunities, including biochar, carbon trading, geo-engineering.
It is clear that these proposed solutions by corporate interests are based on acquiring large tracts of land and cheap labour for industrial scale production, serving to maintain the lifestyle of societies of over-consumption thereby exacerbating the crises both in the North and the South. All of these developments claim that they bring progress to Africa. But not only will they fail to address hunger and climate change, they will make them worse. These false solutions are cynical attempts by the corporations to reach new markets, and to make a business out of a crisis

ABN's Position

ABN believes that the solutions to climate change and hunger are the same: healthy resilient communities depend on healthy resilient ecosystems and biodiversity.

We are certain that the role of healthy, biodiverse ecosystems in maintaining a stable climate is critical, and that it is completely underestimated in most predictions and discussions about climate change. When dealing with climate change, we must both reduce carbon emissions and enhance biodiversity as equally important. Healthy soils built up by ecological agriculture and livelihood systems sink carbon as well as having more capacity to hold water in times of drought or flood.

Food sovereignty at local and national level requires locally adapted crop and livestock diversity and land tenure systems that will enable communities to produce and market food in a way that really feeds people, promote equity and at the same time deal with climate instability.

We also believe that local and indigenous ecological knowledge and governance systems must be urgently revived and enhanced to maximise Africa's capacity to read, anticipate and adapt to climate change.

The time has come for national governments to prioritise the regeneration of ecosystems, self-reliant communities and diversified local economies over export oriented policies, free trade agreements and the current wave of expansion of the food system.

Africa needs to have the courage to free itself from its colonial legacy and build on its rich heritage through reviving the wisdom of its people as a responsibility to past and future generations. Based on this wealth, it has the capacity to take a lead in finding true solutions by disengaging from the very thinking that has created the crises in the first place.

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