The ACB is committed to dismantling inequalities in the food and agriculture systems in Africa and the promotion of agro-ecology and food sovereignty.

Appeal Board rejects GM potatoes for South Africa


The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) welcomes the recent decision made by the Minister of Agriculture, Water Affairs and Fisheries and an Appeal Board rejecting the commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) potatoes in South Africa.

The ACB with the support of the South African public, vigorously campaigned over a number of years against the Agricultural Research Council (ARC’s) bid to bring GM potatoes, also known as “SpuntaG2,” to the South African market. The potatoes were genetically engineered to produce a toxin to kill the potato tuber moth. The ACB has always contended that the GM potato posed unacceptable risks to human and animal health, the environment and the farming community. GM Regulators in SA, the Executive Council: GMO Act, agreed and rejected ARC’s application in 2009, citing a long list of biosafety, health and socio-economic concerns. These were challenged by the ARC in an appeal, which they have now definitively lost.

Executive Director of ACB, Mariam Mayet said, “we have waited several long years for this decision and are extremely pleased that smallholder farmers will not be saddled with this unwanted and risky technology”. The research into the “SpuntaG2” potatoes was bankrolled by the United States Agency for International Development

AFAP in Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania—for profits or people?

AFAP in Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania—for profits or people?

The chemical fertiliser push in Africa and its implications for smallholder farmers is not receiving enough attention in current discourses concerning Green Revolution policies and practises in Africa. Yet chemical fertilisers are big business on the continent, where its adoption is strongly supported by African governments through subsidy schemes and regional organisations such as NEPAD, the African Union and COMESA, and international donor organisations such as USAID, DfiD, the FAO and the Soros Foundation.
The African Centre for Biodiversity has been tracking this issue for a while now and has today released a further research report on the issue, titled, “AFAP in Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania, for Profits or People”. Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania are key target breadbasket countries for the African Fertilizer Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), one of the main beneficiaries of the Gates Foundation-funded Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).


ACB to battle SA Govt., Monsanto over controversial GM ‘drought tolerant’ maize


The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has on 7th August 2015, lodged an appeal to Agriculture, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Senzeni Zokwana, against the general release approval of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) maize, MON87460 granted by the Executive Council (EC): GMO Act. Such approval means that Monsanto can sell the GM maize seed, MON87460, to farmers in South Africa for cultivation.
MON87460 is alleged to be ‘drought tolerant;’ a claim the ACB vehemently disputes.
Administrative justice, procedural fairness and sound science to the test
The appeal is a test for administrative justice and procedural fairness in regard to GM decision-making in South Africa. Administrative decision-making must be based on rigorous food safety, environmental and socio-economic assessments of the potential adverse effects of MON87460, taking into international biosafety best practice.
According to the ACB, the EC’s approval is typical of GM decision-making, which simply reiterates and summarises information provided by Monsanto, who has a clear vested interest in the approval.  Such “rubber stamping” is unlawful. The EC is under a legal obligation to apply a risk averse and cautious approach, which takes into account uncertainties and the limits of current knowledge about the consequences of approving MON87460 for commercial

ARIPO sells out African Farmers, seals Secret Deal on Plant Variety Protection


Statement issued by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)

On 06 July 2015, in Arusha, Tanzania, a Diplomatic Conference held under the auspices of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) adopted a harmonised regional legal framework for the protection of plant breeders’ rights—the Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (the ‘Arusha PVP Protocol’).
The Arusha PVP Protocol is a slightly revised version of a previous Draft ARIPO Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (the ‘ARIPO PVP Protocol’). The previous Draft has come under consistent and severe attack by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) because it is based on a Convention known as UPOV 1991—a restrictive and inflexible international legal precept, totally unsuitable for Africa. Crucially, the ARIPO PVP Protocol proposed extremely strong intellectual property rights to breeders while restricting the age-old practices of African farmers freely to save, use, share and sell seeds and/or propagating material. These practices are the backbone of agricultural systems in Sub-Saharan Africa; they have ensured the production and maintenance of a diverse pool of genetic resources by farmers themselves, and have safe-guarded food and nutrition for tens of millions of Africans

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.

Download English Report
Download Summary in French



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.


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.


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?


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%.


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