South Africa

South Africa

Against the odds, smallholder farmers maintain agricultural biodiversity in South Africa

This report is a result of research conducted in partnership with Tshintsha Amakhaya, Farmer Support Group, TCOE Zingisa and Surplus People Project. The report investigates the state of farmer-managed seed systems in rural South Africa.

Through 3 case studies in Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, the report highlights both the fragility and perseverance of smallholder farmers, who continue to maintain agricultural biodiversity and traditional knowledge, in the face of increasing pressure from all sides. Smallholder farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to make end meet in an agricultural sector dominated by large-scale commercial production and corporate value chains.

Multinational corporations dominate seed provision in South Africa, further driving a commercial and industrial Green Revolution agenda. Farmer-managed seed systems, and the diversity of crops and diets that rely on them, are marginalised and neglected in the process.
The research is one step in highlighting the threats and opportunities facing smallholders and biodiversity in an increasingly harsh production environment. ACB will continue working with our partners and smallholder farmers to support and promote sustainable farming practices and farmer-managed seed systems as part of our broader objectives to transform seed and food systems in South Africa.

Download full report in PDF format

Standing up for farmer-saved seeds, agrobiodiversity and seed sovereignty! ACB commenting on revised seed laws in South Africa

ACB submitted comments on the Plant Breeders’ Rights and Plant Improvement Bills, to the Select Committee on Land and Mineral Resources on the 24th January 2017.

These bills restrict the saving, trading, exchanging, and sale of seed. This can have massive ramifications on seed and food sovereignty, agricultural biodiversity, access to diverse seed, and increasing the disparities and inequalities in South African agriculture, food and nutrition.

ACB will continue to engage in this process to ensure that South African seed laws take into account farmer-managed seed systems, agrobiodiversity, and maintain farmer’s rights to save, reuse, exchange, and sell seed.

We invite interested parties to join this conversation, to fight for our right to seed.

 

Download the ACB Comments on the PBR Bill in pdf

Download the ACB Comments on the PIA Bill in pdf

New Lobby document from ACB: transitioning out of GM maize in SA

This Four-page document summarises the recent report published by the African Centre for Biodiversity: Transitioning out of GM maize: to agroecology for sustainable, socially just and nutritional food systems, that argues that we need to urgently shift away from the mono-focus on a maize towards embracing a diversity of crops – particularly indigenous African summer grain crops such as sorghum and millet – and diverse agricultural practices that support healthy ecosystems, economies and societies

This is the first set of easily-to-read and share material, and is available in 5 languages: English, Afrikaans, isiZulu, isiXhosa and Sesotho.

Afrikaans | English | isi-Xhosa | isi-Zulu | Sesotho

The full report (English) is available here.

World Food Day – South Africa faces drought, rising food prices and false promises of GMOs

To cope with drought and rising food prices, we need to urgently move away from genetically modified food and towards indigenous African crops. So warns the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB).
“We need to urgently shift away from maize towards embracing a diversity of crops – particularly indigenous African summer grain crops such as sorghum and millet – and agro ecology,” says ACB director, Mariam Mayet.
Coinciding with World Food Day, the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), has released an important report. It is called “Transitioning out of GM maize: towards nutrition security, climate adaptation, agro-ecology and social justice.”
It makes a compelling case for South Africa to urgently transition out of GM maize production, to systems that are socially just, ecologically sustainable and provide nutrition security for a rapidly urbanising population in the face of the current crippling drought.
According to Mariam Mayet, Director of the ACB, “South Africa is at a crossroads: either it must abandon Monsanto’s GM maize including its bogus drought tolerant GM maize seed or face an economic, social and ecological crisis.”
The report shows that the current maize production system is unsustainable for a number of ecological and economic reasons:
Over-reliance on genetically modified

Transitioning out of GM maize: Current drought is an opportunity for a more resilient and just food system

Coinciding with World Food Day, the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), in a new report titled “Transitioning out of GM maize: towards nutrition security, climate adaptation, agro-ecology and social justice” makes a compelling case for South Africa to urgently transition out of GM maize production, to systems that are socially just, ecologically sustainable and provide nutrition security for a rapidly urbanising population in the face of the current crippling drought. It argues that we need to urgently shift away from the mono-focus on a maize towards embracing a diversity of crops – particularly indigenous African summer grain crops such as sorghum and millet – and diverse agricultural practices that support healthy ecosystems, economies and societies.

Download the PDF report 1,5Mb

Download a 4 pager Lobby document in 5 languages.

 

Integration of small-scale farmers into formal seed production in South Africa

The scoping report looks at key policies, legislation and programmes in SA with an emphasis on seed laws and considers the implications for small- scale farmer involvement in this sector and outlines a few projects on community seed production, indigenous crops and black- owned private sector seed production efforts.

Download the Scoping Report

APPEAL AGAINST MONSANTO’S BOGUS GM DROUGHT TOLERANT MAIZE HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR URGENT AGRICULTURE TRANSITION

17th December 2015

Starts

South Africa is in the grip of the worst drought since 1992, with many parts of the country experiencing record temperatures and little to no rain. The maize and transport industries are currently planning for a worst-case scenario, where the continent’s largest maize producer – South Africa – may potentially need to import 4 million metric tons of maize due to the prolonged drought. It is against this backdrop that the South African government has granted approval to Monsanto for it to market its wholly inadequate and over-hyped ‘climate smart’ solution to drought– genetically modified (GM) drought tolerant maize, also known as ‘MON87460.’ The controversial maize was developed under the auspices of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) funded project called Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), currently operating in five African countries and aimed at ‘benefitting’ smallholder farmers.

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has consistently opposed MON87460 as unproven, unsafe and inappropriate for resource-poor smallholders. The organisation has formally appealed against its approval for commercial cultivation in South Africa. The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Senzeni Zokwana, has advised the ACB on the 15th December 2015 that he has established an Appeal Board to

#GlyphosateMustFall

glyphosate-mustfall

The South African government needs to ban the use of glyphosate in our food system with immediate effect.

Glyphosate (most commonly known as RoundUp) is the most widely used herbicide in South Africa and its use has increased dramatically since the introduction of genetically modified maize, soya and cotton that has been engineered to survive being drenched with it. Glyphosate is also extensively used in wheat, viticulture, sugarcane and the timber industries.

The International Agency for Research into Cancer (IARC), which falls under the World Health Organisation (WHO), has recently classified glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen”; its continued use poses unacceptable risks to our health, the health of our families, farmers, farmers’ families, farm workers and society.

Please sign this petition and share it widely to demand a ban on glyphosate in our food system and to demand a commitment from government to transform our corporate controlled, chemical-laden food systems to a socially just agro-ecological food system.

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

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