Tag Archive: agribusiness

The new generation of GM herbicide crops – poison cocktail for ailing agriculture

Dow’s 2,4 D & glufosinate ammonium soybeans-the case for its rejection

In this briefing, we outline our food safety concerns with Dow Chemical’s GM soybean genetically engineered to resist the herbicides, 2,4 D and glufosinate ammonium (DAS-6816-4). We also outline the reasons for the spate of these even more toxic GM herbicide tolerant crops and the markets that the introduction of these crops are designed to protect.

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We have submitted, to the SA GMO authorities, a detailed response to Dow’s application and deal with various issues, including: the paucity of the data received; fatal flaws in Dow’s food safety studies; and risks posed by both 2,4 D and glufosinate ammonium. You can download the response here.

The Pioneer/Pannar seed merger: deepening structural inequalities in South Africa

 

In this briefing, we deal with the Pioneer/Pannar seed merger, outlining the evidence led by the ACB in opposing the merger, what is at stake for South Africa if the merger is approved and the extent to which the merger will deepen structural imbalances in the South African economy.
 

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GMOs have made no impact on food security in South Africa in fourteen years. ACB responds to DA position

On the 5th of September 2012 James Wilmot, Democratic Alliance MP and Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry, issued a press release claiming that poor consumers cannot benefit from the “cost savings offered by GMOs” because genetically modified (GM) foods cannot be labelled. He claimed that labelling could not be implemented without a testing facility and “without an active testing facility, the SABS cannot ensure the safety of GMOs for consumption by the general public. As a result, the Department’s interim solution has been to ban a number of GMOs until the testing facility is operational.”

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), an organisation that has campaigned rigorously on GMO labelling and related issues over the past decade, claims that James is confused. Ms. Haidee Swanby, Outreach Officer for the ACB said, “It is clear that Mr. James does not understand how GMOs are regulated in this country and has mixed up the functions of the Departments of Trade and Industry and Agriculture. He also does not realise the extent of GMOs in our food system. There is no import ban due to labelling issues; South Africa stopped importing bulk GM shipments from Argentina and Brazil in 2010 when these

Call on BASF, Bayer, and Syngenta to stop marketing highly hazardous pesticides.

PAN Germany, a charitable organisation which provides information on the adverse effects of pesticides and promotes environmentally friendly and socially just alternatives.

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Click on the banner to sign up.

We will send the following letter in your name:

To: Syngenta, Martin Taylor, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Bayer CropScience, Sandra E. Peterson, Chief Executive Office
BASF, Wayne T. Smith, Member of the Board of Executive Directors

Dear Mr Taylor,
Dear Ms Peterson,
Dear Mr Smith,

Every year, countless cases of pesticide poisoning occur. Syngenta, Bayer, and BASF, as the three largest pesticide companies worldwide, are to a large extent responsible; your company markets more than fifty highly hazardous pesticides worldwide.

Since the mid-1980s, programs for a safe use of pesticides have been implemented to prevent pesticide poisonings. Nevertheless, people, farm animals, and the environment continue to suffer considerable harm due to highly hazardous pesticides.

Twenty-five years are enough. I call on you to end the sale of highly hazardous pesticides.

Yours sincerely,

Comments on COMESA’s Draft Policy on Commercial Planting, Trade and Emergency Food Aid Involving Genetically Modified Organisms.

On the 8th and 9th May 2012 COMESA held a meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, to review a draft policy on the regulation and trade of GMOs for the region. While the Biotech Industry was very well represented at the meeting, civil society was completely left out of the process. This policy is being drafted behind closed doors to suit the trade interests of the major sponsor of the Policy – the United States government. Rather than ensure the most effective biosafety procedures for the Region, this policy is crafted to create an enabling environment for the free trade of GMOs with few checks and balances. The policy poses a threat to the national sovereignty of Member States, all but excludes public participation in the decision making process on GMOs and lowers the bar when it comes to risk assessments.

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Smallholder farmers and consumers to pay the price for corporate seed merger

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) learned today that US multi-national seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred has been granted permission by the Competition Appeal Court, to acquire the nation’s last major independent seed company, Pannar seed. The ACB was an intervening party, opposing the merger in the public interest.

In granting the merger, the court has not only ensured the further consolidation of private ownership over our seed systems, but crucially, it has sanctioned the concentration of germplasm in the hands of a small number of multinational corporations. This will exacerbate the existing situation whereby farmers are becoming irreversibly disconnected from breeding processes and converted into mere consumers of what they originally collectively produced.

A key issue in the merger is Pioneer’s fervent desire to take control of locally adapted germplasm that Pannar holds – germplasm that existed and was used in Africa long before Pioneer or Pannar existed.

One of the conditions of the merger is a R20 million fund to “increase the productivity, knowledge and welfare of small-scale and developing farmers”. But this is no more than public relations. “As long as smallholders themselves are only passive recipients of largesse from the corporations, and the companies determine

South Africa’s Seed Systems: Challenges for food sovereignty

The African Centre for Biosafety and Trust for Community Outreach and Education, have the pleasure of sharing with you, our new study, which provides an overview of the structure of the seed system in South Africa, the types of seed in use and their pros and cons, the legislative and policy environment, and the role of the public sector in seed production and distribution in South Africa. It aims to identify the trends in the seed sector and consider possible points of intervention to advance the agenda of strengthening small-scale resource-poor farmers in control over and access to appropriate seed for seed sovereignty, which sits at the heart of food sovereignty.

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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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Big Business Drives SA’s Biofuels Programme

In late February 2012 leading figures from the fossil fuel industry met in Pretoria to forge ahead with the government’s highly controversial plans for an SA biofuels industry. The catalyst for this meeting was the publication by the government last September of draft regulations for the mandatory blending of biofuels in the nation’s fuel supply. This article, which first appeared as an Op-ed in the Cape Times on the 17th of April 2012, seeks to highlight some of the substantial concerns around agro-fuels which were not discussed at the workshop.

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SA Biotech ‘Boom’ a flop for farmers, consumers

On the 9 March 2012, the chief lobbyist for the biotech industry, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), presented findings from its latest annual report to the media in Pretoria, South Africa. The ISAAA proudly proclaimed another boom year for genetically modified (GM) crops in South Africa and claimed that the benefit of GM crops is widespread and widely shared.

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) vehemently disputes that GM crops have benefitted farmers and consumers in South Africa. GM crops have done nothing to bring about food security or curtail the escalating costs of food in South Africa. Between January 2008 and January 2012, the cost of a 5kg bag super maize meal increased by a staggering 83%. In 2007, the poorest 30% of the population spent approximately 22% of their monthly income on food, including on maize-a staple. The latest figures from January 2012 put this at nearly 39%.

According to Mariam Mayet, Director of the ACB, “the beneficiaries of GM crops remain the multinational biotechnology companies themselves. Monsanto controls around 50% of the maize seed market in South Africa, and its maize seed revenues from