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The Treaties - 38 - Citizens' Commitments on Biotechnology

1. We call for an international convention on biotechnology which adheres to the following principles:

    a. Alternative methods and biotechnological approaches should be equally explored and the safest and most cost efficient should be selected

    b. That institutions which finance both research and technical assistance should provide funds proportionally for alternative approaches. In this context traditional knowledge should be recognized and respected as a valid and valuable resources for alternatives

    c. Biotechnological research should be oriented towards publicly defined needs, the common good and the good of future generations

    d. Prior to any use of biotechnology, full social, cultural and economic predictive assessments of the impact should be publicly performed and should be part of open democratic decisions as to whether or not to proceed with these biotechnological activities

    e. Protection for the environment by requiring scientifically sound, long range, ecological assessment at every stage of biotechnology, such as research, agricultural production, pharmaceutical products, deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms and marketing of the products of biotechnology

    f. Full involvement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other citizens organizations in the governmental decision making process, on the basis of full access to relevant information

    g. Regulatory procedures must be based on the "precautionary principle" which means that as long as the impacts are in doubt or uncertain, biotechnology activities should not be undertaken. The structure and norms of the proof that there will be no harm will be defined by a committee in which government, research institutions, NGOs, social organizations and those who propose the activities are to be equally represented. The costs for the proof have to be carried by the project proposers

    h. Companies and research institutions responsible for these biotechnologies should be held to strict financial and criminal liability for any damages or consequences, without prejudice to future claims and/or other sanctions

    i. Companies and governments which undertake the genetic manipulation of organisms and their products should not be allowed to do so - whether in their own or in foreign countries - without prior informed consent and notice by the public to be affected

    j. Natural genetic structures of biota should not be viewed as economic resources, therefore all kinds of patenting of life forms should be prohibited

    k. Acknowledging the unjustified and unethical legal and economic reality of the patenting of life forms, the rights of farmers and indigenous peoples to control their traditional resources must be protected

    l. The fundamental rights of the public to know through clear information and labelling concerning the type of genetically manipulated organisms which are commercialized

    m. Biotechnology should never be developed or used for military purposes.

2. We call for legally binding international instruments to guarantee the above principles.


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