25 Sep 2013 12:40
WINDHOEK, 25 SEP (NAMPA) The involvement of the agri-business Syngenta in the UNCCDs Soil Leadership Academy has not been received well by local environment lobby group Earthlife Namibia.
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) launched a Soil Leadership Academy with the support of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Syngenta on Tuesday.
The event took place during the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP11) to the UNCCD in the capital.
Director of Earthlife Namibia Bertchen Kohrs in an exclusive interview with Nampa on Wednesday said agri-business companies such as Syngenta and others only care about profit.
Syngenta is a large Swiss specialised chemicals company which markets seeds and pesticides.
Syngenta sells gene manipulated seeds and pesticides which do great harm to the land, the farmers and public health. The impact on human health is not fully known and problems may only arise in later generations, she warned.
The main goal of the joint initiative is to fill the gap in capacity-building opportunities for policy-makers to address land management issues through distilling and sharing the latest science, knowledge and expertise in soil conservation and sustainable practice.
Civil Society Organisations already staged a peaceful demonstration here last Friday about Syngenta's participation during the two-week conference here.
However, according to Kohrs, protests against agri-business companies happen worldwide, as people are worried about their land, their health and the future impacts. The manipulated genes enter the food chain and their effects are not yet known. Kohrs also made reference to a claim by environmental organisation Greenpeace that pesticides produced by Syngenta and other agrochemical companies pose a severe threat to bees. Partial bans of Syngentas neonicotinoids are already in place in Italy, France, Germany and Slovenia.
Neonicotinoids are powerful pesticides which damage the nervous systems of bees and other pollinators. Greenpeace is campaigning to have these pesticides removed from the market as a crucial first step to move away from intensive farming in Europe.
Syngenta glues to its logic of profits instead of protecting the environment and working towards sustainability, Kohrs indicated.
Speaking at the launch yesterday, UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja said the academy will serve as a source of state-of-the-art information related to soil conservation and land-management. Through the academy, a network between research institutes, universities and key decision-makers will be created.
At the same occasion, Syngenta Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Michael Mack noted that creating the academy with the UNCCD will help to meet the goal of sustainable agriculture and bring stakeholders closer to addressing the soil conservation challenge globally.
He said Syngenta has made a global commitment to improve the fertility of 10 million hectares of farmland by 2020.