Media

Easy-to-read materials on the revision of South African Seed laws: entrenching an unjust and unsustainable seed system

As we continue to engage and mobilise around the seed policy and legislation revisions, ACB has developed 2 easy-to-read documents outlining the central concerns and possible alternative directions for seed policy to move in South Africa.

Despite the public interest to support an equitable seed system, the Plant Improvement and Plant Breeders’ Rights Bills, create an environment for further corporate ownership of the commercial seed system, which ultimately excludes and criminalises small-scale farmers and small seed enterprises.

We need to be able to freely exchange seed, and enable farmer-managed seed systems to flourish, for the of future of our seed.

Right now, National government is moving across the country engaging in Provincial briefing and Public engagements on these Bills. Now is the time to educate ourselves on the draconian, oppressive, and vulnerable state of our seed systems.

Download Lobby paper PIA in pdf

Download Lobby paper PBR in pdf

View additional comments Jan 30, 2017 here “Standing up for farmer-saved seeds, agrobiodiversity and seed sovereignty! ACB commenting on revised seed laws in South Africa” .

Bayer-Monsanto merger: An existential threat to South Africa’s food system

PRESS RELEASE

In December 2016 Monsanto shareholders voted in favour of the sale of the company to Bayer for US$66 billion, making it the largest-ever foreign corporate takeover by a German company.

Both Bayer and Monsanto are major global manufacturers of agrochemicals and seeds, including genetically modified seed. A merged entity would be the world’s largest supplier by sales of both seeds and pesticides, controlling 29 percent of the world’s commercial seed markets and 24 percent of the world’s pesticide markets. Bayer and Monsanto are major actors in South Africa’s seed and agrochemical industries. The deal will require approval from about 30 regulatory agencies around the world, including by South Africa’s Competition Commission.

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

African Civil Society and farmer representatives blocked from ARIPO deliberations on regional seed (PVP) law

Press Release from the African Centre for Biodiversity and PELUM Association in collaboration with the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa

29 November 2016
The authoritarian nature of the African Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) Secretariat and its undemocratic processes are scandalous and unacceptable. Locking African farmer representatives and civil society out in order to allow unfettered draconian regional law making is deeply disturbing. What is at play here is entrenching an agricultural future for smallholder farmers in the 19 ARIPO countries that will ensure that profits accrue mainly to the corporate sector and a tiny group of elite players that can engage in the commercial agriculture value chain, while pushing the already marginalised majority of smallholder farmers further into hunger, poverty and dispossession.

ARIPO will host an Administrative Council meeting 5–8 December 2016 in Harare, Zimbabwe for its 19 ARIPO Member States, to adopt deeply troubling draft Regulations to implement a highly contested and controversial regional law on seeds – the Arusha Protocol on Protection of New Varieties of Plants (PVP). ARIPO has refused point blank to allow any African farmer representative or civil society to attend the December meeting on the spurious and frivolous grounds that ARIPO has no

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

UNPRECEDENTED OPPOSITION TO MONSANTO’S GMO TRIALS IN SA: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!

Joint Press Release: African Centre for Biodiversity, NO GMO SA, March Against Monsanto SA and South African Food Sovereignty Campaign

Johannesburg, South Africa 22nd June 2016

More than 25 000 people have signed a petition opposing Monsanto’s GMO field trials and in support of Objections submitted today by the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) to South African GMO regulators. The trials, which have caused an outpouring of resistance, rage and opposition, are three ‘stacked’ genetically modified (GM) maize events involving Monsanto’s bogus drought tolerant trait; a failed pesticide (Bt) trait already discarded due to insect resistance; a replacement trait that is bound to develop resistance; and a trait that confers resistance to the cancer causing chemical, glyphosate. These open field trials are to take place in several locations in the Western and Northern Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga.1

Monsanto’s drought tolerant trait, MON87460, is currently on appeal by the ACB on a number of grounds, including that a single gene (cspB) does not confer efficacious drought tolerance and is yet another risky and novel gene introduced into our staple food. According to the ACB’s Objections, controversies also surround the already approved parental lines: MON810 has been phased out in SA

Africa to lose heritage crops to multinationals ‘donating’ GM technology

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), in a new report titled, “For your own good!” The chicanery behind GM non-commercial ‘orphan crops’ and rice for Africa shows that the GM industry is expanding its grasp to African traditional crops such as cassava, sorghum, sweet potato, pigeon pea, cowpea, banana as well as rice under the guise of philanthropy.

The report reveals that a great deal of research and development is currently underway into the genetic modification (GM) of these crops, with most of the on-going trials being focused on drought and salt tolerance, nitrogen use efficiency, resistance to tropical pests and diseases and nutritional enhancement (biofortification). The key countries that have been targeted include, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi.

The genesis of GM research in these crops can be found in royalty-free donations of various patented GM traits, by several multi-national companies (MNCs) including Monsanto, Dupont and Pioneer Hi-bred, to experimental programmes undertaken by African scientists employed by government ministries.

According to Mariam Mayet, Director of the ACB, “This indicates that the GM industry, under the veil of technology donations and public financing, is effectively managing to make further inroads into

Over 57,000 Express Concern with Human Feeding Trials of GMO Bananas

Simultaneous demonstrations in Ames and Seattle highlight controversy surrounding Gates Foundation-funded Transgenic Banana Study at Iowa State University

Ames, IA and Seattle, WA:  On Monday February 15th, Iowa State University graduate students will deliver 57,309 petition signatures to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at ISU while AGRA Watch members deliver the same petition to the headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington. (The petitions will be delivered at 9:30am PST and 11:30am CST.) The petition asks the University and the Gates Foundation to cease supporting the transgenic banana study, including human feeding trials, and to change the trajectory for this type of research conducted at public universities.  Petition signatures were collected by ISU graduate students, AGRA Watch and CREDO Action.

With the purported goal of reducing Vitamin A deficiency in Uganda and other parts of the world, genetically modified bananas are enriched with beta carotene. The study examines the extent to which the bananas’ beta carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body and absorbed by consumers.  The study is funded by the Gates Foundation.

The CREDO petition is a follow-up to a petition launched in 2015 by ISU graduate students who, in

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

Investments in the Beira Corridor in Mozambique: threats to farmers’ seed and food systems

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in partnership with the União Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC, National Peasants Union), and Kaleidoscopio has today released preliminary findings in a research project: ‘Agricultural investment activities in the Beira Corridor, Mozambique: Threats and opportunities for small-scale farmers.’ Joining Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi to the coast of Mozambique, the Beira Corridor plays a central role in the expansion of the Green Revolution project in Southern Africa.

The multi-donor Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor (BAGC) initiative has been established as   Mozambique’s entry point for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The report explores small-scale farmers’ agro-ecological dynamics related to seed and soil fertility in Mozambique and the expansion of the Green Revolution project. The report considers the changing seed system in Mozambique, and the possible effects of regional seed agreements and laws on farmer-managed seed systems. The report also discusses private agro-dealers as key delivery mechanisms for Green Revolution technologies, especially improved seed, fertilizers and agrochemicals.

In Mozambique, most seed is still reproduced by farmers themselves, with some public sector and commercial activity. Mozambique’s plant variety protection (PVP) law prohibits farmers from reproducing and reusing protected seed varieties, even if these varieties are