GM and seed industry eye Africa’s lucrative cowpea seed markets: The political economy of cowpea in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi.

Cowpea seeds

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has today released a new report titled, GM and seed industry eye Africa’s lucrative cowpea seed markets: The political economy of cowpea in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi.  The report shows a strong interest by the seed industry in commercialising cowpea seed production and distribution in West Africa, where a very lucrative regional cowpea seed market is emerging. Cowpea, one of the most ancient crops known to humankind, with its centre of origin in Southern Africa, provides the earliest food for millions of Africans during the ‘hungry season’ before cereals mature.

The report argues that the GM cowpea push in Burkina Faso, nigeria and Ghana co-incides with this strong interest from multinational and local seed companies to produce foundation and certified seed in West Africa.

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AFSA CALLS ON AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS AT ARUSHA MEETING TO SHUN PROTOCOL THAT UNDERMINES SOVEREIGNTY & FARMERS’ RIGHTS TO SEED

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2 July 2015

Nineteen African nations, members of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), began deliberating on the highly contentious draft ARIPO Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Protocol on Monday, 29th June in Arusha Tanzania. Many of these nations are least developed countries, the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world.

If adopted, the Protocol will establish a centralised plant variety protection (PVP) regime modeled on the heavily criticised 1991 Act of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991). Such a PVP regime will vest enormous decision-making powers in the ARIPO PVP Office (which has no experience in PVP matters), and totally undermine the sovereignty of member states to regulate plant breeder’s rights. Crucially, the Protocol will nullify the rights of farmers to freely save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed and other propagating material. This practice is the backbone of agricultural systems in Africa, providing food and nutrition for hundreds of millions of Africans on the continent.

AFSA has been extremely vocal in challenging the legitimacy and credibility of the process leading to the development of the Draft Protocol as well as the Protocol itself. A particular concern is that the

African civil society slams Monsanto junk GM maize deal

African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO), União Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC), Kenya Biodiversity Coalition (KBioC), Kenya Food Rights Alliance (KeFRA), Eastern and Southern African Small-Scale Farmers Forum Uganda (ESAFF, Uganda)

Non-governmental and farmer organisations from South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda strongly condemn the go-ahead given by the South African GMO authorities for Monsanto to commercially sell its genetically modified (GM) “drought tolerant” maize seed for cultivation in South Africa. According to the groups, there is no evidence showing that the drought tolerant trait even works. According to Mariam Mayet of the ACB, “the GM maize (MON87460) has not undergone proper risk assessment anywhere in the world and has no history of safe use. South Africans who are already being force-fed with old risky GM traits will now be subject to an utterly new foreign, untested and risky transgene in their daily food.”

MON 87460 stems from of a Monsanto/Gates Foundation project, Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA). Other key project partners include the Howard Buffet Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT). The project is being implemented in South Africa, Kenya, Uganda,

Cottoning onto the lie: GM cotton will harm not help small farmers in Africa

Cottoning on to the lie

After 5 seasons of genetically modified (GM) cotton cultivation in Burkina Faso farmers are denouncing their contracts with Monsanto and cotton stakeholders are discussing compensation for losses incurred since 2008 due to low yields and low quality fibre. Many other African governments are poised to follow suit but should note how GM cotton has impoverished smallholders in South Africa and Burkina Faso as well as heed the fierce opposition on the continent toward accepting it.

English

Apres cinq saisons de culture de coton génétiquement modifié (GM) au Burkina Faso, les exploitants dénoncent leurs contrats avec Monsanto et les acteurs de la filière coton discutent actuellement des indemnités qu’ils comptent demander pour les pertes essuyées depuis 2008, en raison de faibles rendements et d’une fibre de mauvaise qualité. De nombreux pays africains sont sur le point de faire de même mais devraient prendre note de combien le coton GM a appauvri les petits exploitants en Afrique du Sud et au Burkina Faso. Ils devraient également tenir compte de l’opposition féroce au coton transgénique sur le continent avant de l’accepter sur leurs terres.

French

Are Food Producers Abandoning GMOs in Breakfast Cereals but Force-Feeding Risky GM Staple Food to South Africans?

Are Food Producers Abandoning GMOs in Breakfast Cereals but Force-Feeding Risky GM Staple Food to South Africans?

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE AFRICAN CENTRE FOR BIODIVERSITY (ACB)

Johannesburg, 04 June 2015

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has re-tested 4 popular maize milled products as well as 16 baby and breakfast cereals containing maize and/or soya ingredients in order to gauge the extent to which food producers are responding to consumer pressure (see Tables 1 and 2 below). The latest results reveal that the four food companies that control our maize milled market—Premier, Tiger Brands, Foodcorp and Pioneer—remain intransigent and are determined to force feed South African consumers with risky GM maize. The re-test results show an overall increase in the percentage of GM maize in the popular maize brands.1 The average amount of GM maize in a packet of maize meal is now 80%.

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Test results on re-tested milled maize

The latest results of maize meal samples tested by the University of Free State’s GM Testing Laboratory reveal:

  • Premier’s Iwisa Maize Meal contains 91% GM Maize—up by 10 percentage points in 2013

  • Tiger Brand’s Ace Maize Meal contains 87% GM Maize—up by 9 percentage points in 2013

  • Foodcorp’s Tafelberg

Laws regulating seeds in South Africa to entrench hunger and inequality

Press Release from the Food Sovereignty Campaign On 15 May South Africa’s Portfolio Committee on Agriculture held public hearings on two Bills that protect and regulate the commercial seed industry; the Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) Bill and the Plant Improvement Bill. The PBR Bill aims to stimulate innovation in plant breeding by awarding extremely strong intellectual property rights to breeders and the Plant Improvement Bill allows only certified seed to be sold on the commercial market. Several NGOs and smallholder farmers made submissions to the committee, saying that the laws will entrench inequality and deepen the hunger crisis in the country because the Bills are oblivious to seed systems that support smallholder farmers and ecological forms of farming. These laws do not recognise or protect farmer-managed seed systems or agricultural biodiversity but undermine the rights of farmers, including their right to re-use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds. South Africa is one of the few African countries that is Party to the 1978 International Union for Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV) – an intergovernmental organization that was established to reward breeders for their new plant varieties by granting intellectual property rights (IPRs) on the basis of a set of clearly

CAGJ Media Round-up

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CAGJ Media Round-up

March 23, 2015 Seattle and London Actions Protesting Seed Privatization Meeting in London

On March 23, 2015 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored a secret meeting in London to promote a recent report they commissioned detailing in clear terms how to privatize the seed and agricultural markets of Africa- without African stakeholders having a seat at the table. CAGJ/AGRA Watch and Global Justice Now coordinated simultaneous actions in Seattle and London.

Photos: See Community Alliance for Global Justice/AGRA Watch photos of Seattle Action here. See Global Justice Now photos of London Action?here.

Grabbing Africa’s seeds: USAID, EU and Gates Foundation back agribusiness seed takeover

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The latest salvo in the battle over Africa’s seed systems has been fired, writes Stephen Greenberg, with the Gates Foundation and USAID playing puppet-masters to Africa’s governments – now meeting in Addis Ababa – as they drive forward corporation-friendly seed regulations that exclude and marginalize the small farmers whose seeds and labour feed the continent.

 

More than 80% of Africa’s seed supply currently comes from millions of small-scale farmers recycling and exchanging seed from year to year. This seed meets very diverse needs in very diverse conditions.

A battle is currently being waged over Africa’s seed systems. After decades of neglect and weak investment in African agriculture, there is renewed interest in funding African agriculture.

These new investments take the form of philanthropic and international development aid as well as private investment funds. They are based on the potentially huge profitability of African agriculture – and seed systems are a key target.

Right now ministers are co-ordinating their next steps at the 34th COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) Intergovernmental Committee meeting that kicked off yesterday, 22nd March, in preparation for the main Summit that will follow on 30th and 31st March 2015.

COMESA’s key aim is

Gates and Monsanto’s Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project

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In this report, the ACB interrogates the Gates Foundation and Monsanto?s Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project and exposes it to be nothing more than corporate ?green washing,? designed to ensnare small holder farmers into adopting hybrid and GM maize in order to benefit seed and agro-chemical companies.

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