Publications SA

Publications SA

How Much Glyphosate is on your dinner plate? SA’s food safety compromised by lack of testing

This briefing paper forms part of a series of briefing papers on glyphosate to be released later this year by the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB). In this paper, we focus principally on food safety issues, highlighting our grave concerns about the utter regulatory failure concerning particularly, the monitoring, inspection and testing of food for glyphosate residues.

ACB_Glyphosate_parts_per_million

This situation is extremely worrying, given the dramatic increase in the use of glyphosate in food production in South Africa and the risks it poses to human and animal health.

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What you should know about Dows, 2,4-D GM maize

During May 2012, the South African GMO authorities1 approved Dow Chemical’s highly controversial GM maize variety, DAS-40278-9 for import into South Africa for direct use as food, feed and processing. This GM variety has been genetically engineered to withstand liberal applications of Dow’s toxic chemical herbicide 2,4-D and has yet to be approved for growing anywhere in the world. An application for commercial cultivation has been lodged by Dow in the United States, where it is pending approval, amid a maelstrom of protest from diverse sectors of US society, ranging from public health professionals to US farmers.

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Hazardous Harvest: Genetically Modified Crops in South Africa: 2008-2012

In this publication, we provide a comprehensive update of the situation with GMOs in SA. Since our last South African update on genetically modified crops, and the transnational companies that control the technology published in 2008, GMOs have become even more entrenched in the country’s agricultural landscape. Over three quarters of South Africa’s maize is now GM, Roundup Ready soybean cultivation has increased nearly fourfold. If Pioneer Hi-Bred’s acquisition of Pannar seed is accepted, we are about to relinquish all control over our seed system to two US multinational corporations. During 2010 and 2011, nearly 6 million tons of GM maize was exported to destinations in Africa and Mexico, the centre of origin of maize.

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GM Labeling in South Africa: The Law Demystified

During March 2012, the ACB revealed that four household food products tested positive for genetically modified organisms. None of these products have been labeled in accordance with the requirements of applicable South African laws. There appears to be a great deal of confusion about what the laws provide.

In this briefing, we outline what the legal position is, with regard to the labeling of GM food in South Africa, as well as the rights of recourse on the part of the South African consumer. The briefing is titled : “GM Labeling in South Africa: The Law Demystified”

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GM Banana Slips in South Africa: Key Issues and Concerns

In this briefing we deal with the application by the University of Pretoria for permission to conduct the first ever field trials in South Africa involving GM bananas. The rationale for the genetic modification is to combat Fusarium wilt, caused by a soil born fungi Fusarium oxysporum f.sp cubense (Foc). The idea is to genetically engineer bananas with a rice gene (NPRI homolog (NH1)) to confer resistance to the said Foc. The aim of the field trial is thus to evaluate Cavendish bananas that have been transformed to express the NH1 gene for disease tolerance against Foc.

We raise critically important biosafety concerns that have been overlooked in the application.

We also review the situation with banana production globally with particular emphasis on the decline in banana production in South Africa. It is our view that GM disease resistant bananas cannot overcome the current problems being experienced, ranging from land tenure to competition from more ecologically suitable production areas such as those in Mozambique. This real issue is that the shift in the industry will mean that 24 000 on farm jobs will be lost, which is a huge concern and requires urgent government attention and intervention.

HEAVY HANDS – Monsanto’s control in South Africa

This paper seeks to update an earlier report, published by the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) in 2004, titled ‘A profile of Monsanto in South Africa’. In that paper we found that Monsanto dominated the GM crop market in South Africa and was using its considerable power to influence agricultural markets and debates in the country. In the intervening period, Monsanto has consolidated its position in both the global and South African seed markets. It also covets the vast agricultural seed market in the rest of Africa.

In order to situate Monsanto within the South African context, the paper first presents a brief overview of Monsanto’s origins, its prodigious transformation to the agribusiness behemoth it is today, and point to some of the more dubious acts it has carried out in order to remain there. Next, we examine Monsanto’s role in the South African agricultural landscape, with a particular focus on the maize seed market and the markets for Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup. Finally, we provide a brief summary of the South African maize sector in general and look at current and possible future trends in this sector and how Monsanto’s operations could influence these.

Press Release

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Critique of SANBI’s Studies on Monsanto’s MON 810

During early in 2011, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) published a report titled ?Monitoring the Environmental Impacts of GM Maize in South Africa?. The report was a culmination of a study by the Environmental Biosafety Cooperation Project (EBCP) aimed at developing a framework for monitoring of insect resistant maize, Mon810, belonging to Monsanto.

The project, coordinated jointly by SANBI and the Directorate of Nature Management (DNI) in Norway, included contributions by the Norway based Centre for Biosafety (Gen?k) and the South African based, University of the Free Sate, University of Fort Hare and North West University.

The assessments were carried out over two planting maize seasons, 2008/2209 and 2009/2010 and were based upon a series of scientific studies that included field, glasshouse and laboratory assessments. The primary areas of interest included impacts on target and non-target organisms, impacts on soil organism biodiversity, as well as the impact of gene flow and its subsequent contribution to the development of insect resistance.

In this document, we take a critical look at the SANBI studies, and conclude that the SANBI studies for the most part only describe observed effects with no real or in-depth discussion of the causes

Alert to anti-GM activists in Egypt, India, Mexico and South Korea

South Africa’s GM maize flooding into your countries!!!

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has been monitoring the GMO landscape in South Africa since 2004. As recently as three years ago South Africa was importing millions of tons of GM maize from Argentina, used mainly in the animal feed industry. During 2010, South African maize farmers produced a 6 million ton maize surplus, which included a large percentage of GM maize. With the threat of financial ruin looming large, industry has been scouring the globe in search of new export markets. Last February, nearly 300,000 tons of GM maize was earmarked for export to Kenya. However, this evoked a huge scandal because the GM maize had not been approved in Kenya, resulting in many of the shipments being held up in Mombasa harbor, amid a flurry of contrary statements issued by the Kenyan and South African governments.

Further shipments that fell through regulatory cracks were dispatched to Swaziland, Mozambique and even Somalia. The really lucrative markets for commodity grains are found beyond Africa’s shores in Europe, the Middle East and East Asia (making a mockery of the idea that GM crops have been developed to alleviate global hunger).

Overview of GMO Regulatory Regime in South Africa

Following the promulgation of the Genetically Modified Organisms Act in 1997, numerous Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) applications have been approved in SA. As of 2007, GMOs commercially available in South Africa included insect resistant maize and cotton, herbicide tolerant cotton, maize and soybean, and herbicide tolerant and insect resistant cotton and maize, making up 62% of the total maize crop, 80% of the total soybean crop and 90% of the total cotton crop in South Africa comprised of GMOs.

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) concurs with the emerging groundswell of civil society and scientific opinion that GMOs pose a grave threat to human health, the environment and the establishment of an equitable global food system.

Public interest groups such as the ACB have, over many years, attempted to engage with the government on the regulation of GMOs in South Africa, and to participate in GMO permitting processes. While a valuable contribution to the biosafety debate has been made, these efforts have often been frustrated by a lack of transparency in the decision-making process, and in particular the lack of information made available to the public. The GMO Registrar has consistently insisted on interested and

Biosafety Protocol: Ten years on and lagging far behind

Biosafety Protocol: Ten years on and lagging far behind

Mariam Mayet attended COP MOP 5 in Nagoya Japan. Indeed, she has been following the Biosafety Protocol discussions since 1999. In this brief, she argues that the Biosafety Protocol lags far behind the biosafety challenges faced by developing countries such as South Africa. She also expresses deep disappointment with the loss of a international civil liability regime for GMOs. In its place, Parties to the Biosafety Protocol have adopted the Nagoya Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a set of administrative measures for clean up by the state/responsible persons in the event of damage being caused to biodiversity.

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