Position Statements on Biotechnology

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

A policy research report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) states "modern medical and agricultural biotechnology can contribute much to increased food security and better health in African countries by speeding the agricultural productivity and epidemiological transitions in these countries". The report "Harnessing Technologies for Sustainable Development" further says,

modern technologies "bring tremendous hope to those who live in fragile environments, depend on marginal lands, are exposed to health hazards and natural disasters, and have little coping capacity and almost no assets to fall back on in a crisis".

Medical biotechnology and genetics are expanding opportunities for developing new drugs, improving the efficacy of existing drugs and treatments, and creating new ways of delivering the medicines. These technologies are improving the prospects for controlling and eradicating infectious diseases in the coming century.

On the other hand, recent advances in agricultural biotechnology like crop varieties with higher yields, greater resistance to pests and diseases, and better nutritional, health, and environmental attributes are important to Africa. This new 'green revolution' has the distinctive promise for Africa through its capability to "provide a better way to extend productive potential to poor farm communities, pre-packaged in genetically engineered seeds rather than delivered haphazardly in many separate purchased inputs".

However, the report also cautions that the new technologies are no panacea and the benefits will not automatically transfer to the poor. It is also critical that biotechnology be viewed as "one part of a comprehensive, sustainable poverty reduction strategy, and not as a technological 'quick fix' for Africa's hunger and poverty problems". Other important points are for innovations and investments be made in institutions and to build national and regional consensus to invest in the future. According to UNECA, "the greatest risk for Africa is to do nothing, allowing the biotechnology revolution to pass it by".

The report is available online at http://www.uneca.org/harnessing

International Support:

  1. International Organizations
  2. Africa
  3. Asia
  4. Europe
  5. North America
  6. Latin America
  7. Oceania

International Organizations

- Food and Agricultural Organization
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
- World Health Organization
- United Nations Development Programme
- United Nations Environment Programme
- Third World Academy of Sciences

- Agenda 21
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
- Vatican Pontifical Academy on Life

- International Council for Science Union

- International Life Sciences Institute


- International Society of African Scientists
- United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
- Africabio
- South African Minister Ngubane's statement at WSSD
- National Biotechnology Strategy for South Africa
- Former Kenyan President Moi's letter to US President Clinton

- Nigerian President Obasanjo's Statement


- Asian Development Bank
- Chinese Academy of Sciences
- Indian National Academy of Sciences
- National Academy of Science and Technology (Philippines)
- Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir's Speech at BioMalaysia 2002
- Policy Statement on Biotechnology (Philippines)


- Royal Society of London

- Prime Minister Blair's speech

- European Commission

- French Academy of Science

North America


United States of America

- American Medical Association
- American Society for Microbiology
- National Academy of Sciences
- National Research Council
- American Society of Plant Biologists
- Federation of Animal Science Societies
- American Midwest Farmers

  • American Agri-Women
  • American Soybean Association
  • National Chicken Council
  • National Corn Growers Association
  • National Cotton Council
  • National Milk Producers Federation
  • National Potato Council
  • National Turkey Federation
  • United Soybean Board


- Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee
- The Royal Society of Canada (The Canadian Academy of the Sciences and Humanities)
- Industry Canada (Federal Department of Industry)
- The 1998 Canadian Biotechnology Strategy: A Ongoing Renewal Process

Latin America

- Brazilian Academy of Sciences
- Mexican Academy of Sciences


- New Zealand Royal Commission

- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization
- Australia New Zealand Food Authority
- Australian Biotechnology: A National Strategy (2000)

- National Farmers' Federation

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