The debate on GMOs in Africa rages on, this time in Tanzania

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A heated public debate on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) ensued during a seminar organised by MVIWATA – a network of smallholder farmers – in Morogoro, Tanzania. The meeting took place on 12 May 2018 and was attended by more than a hundred people, including parliamentarians and high-level government officials. The event, which was intended only to raise public awareness about GM crops, saw tensions reaching fever pitched levels between those in favour of and those extremely wary of GM crops.

Tanzania is a key target country for the cultivation of GM crops, particularly by Monsanto and the Gates Foundation projects. Tanzanian scientists are vocal supporters of GMOs and do the lobby work for the biotech industry, often making outlandish promises about the miracle properties of GMO crops.

Biosafety Indaba eSwatini: Unclear motives following approval to cultivate Bt cotton, despite dismal failures in Africa, India

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The news that the Swaziland Environmental Authority (SEA) had authorised the importation and commercial release of Bt cotton seeds came as a huge shock to the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB). It meant that ACB had to reconsider its earlier acceptance of an invitation by SEA to attend a National Biosafety Indaba on 22 May 2018, where ACB would share knowledge and experiences on GM crop cultivation, in order to inform Swazi decision-making. When ACB received the news, it was just four days before the Indaba and all logistics had already been confirmed and paid for.

Objection to Application by Dow for general release of GM maize: MON89034 X TC1507 x NK603 with the intention for cultivation in the entire region of South Africa

Objection

The ACB has played an essential watch-dog role on new GMO permits in South Africa for a decade now, adding substantially to the discourse about the scientific assessment of GMOs as well as about issues of socioeconomic impacts and democratic decisionmaking, through lodging substantive comments on at least 30 permit applications.

We are objecting to the general release of MON 89034 x TC1507 x NK603, due to concerns surrounding lack of safety to human and environmental health of this GM maize variety and its associated pesticides, glyphosate and glufosinate. This latest variety will serve to further increase exposure by the peoples of South Africa to yet more chemical pesticides, consolidate the corporate control of South Africa’s already corporatized food systems and entrench inequities and food insecurity.