Tag Archive: Eastern Cape

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

ACB submission to the Secretariat of the Biosafety Protocol – discussions on socio-economic assessment (Article 26)

28 May 2011

The Secretariat of the Biosafety Protocol is engaging in discussions on socio-economic provisions related to decision-making and GMOs (Article 26). The ACB has submitted several studies from South Africa to enrich this discussion and has applied to participate in online discussions. These documents highlight South African experiences regarding the rejection of GM SpuntaG2 potato for commercial release, GM yeast and grapes for wine production and the failure of the governments Massive Food Production Programme in the Eastern Cape which promotes the use of GM maize for small scale farmers.

The following documents have been submitted:

– Covering letter/summary

read more

Executive summaries of two socio-economic studies carried out by the ARC on the impact of GM tubermoth-resistant potato entitled:

– Potential economic benefits of a genetically modified (GM) tubermoth-resistant potato variety in South Africa: an ex-ante socio-economic evaluation for commercial producers
read more
– Smallholder potato production activities in South Africa: a socio-economic and technical assessment of five cases in three provinces
read more

A study carried out by the Trust for Community Outreach and education on the Massive Food Production Programme in the Eastern Cape entitled: Threats to the Food Security and Food

Ground-breaking’ victory for community against drug giant

Fromn the Cape Times Newspaper – January 28, 2010 Edition 1

CRAIG MCKUNE

MEMBERS of a small Eastern Cape community are elated after taking on a German pharmaceutical giant over a patent to produce extracts from two local plant species – and winning. “This is the first time that a patent is challenged successfully by Africans. It ends Schwabe’s monopoly over the use of our genetic resources and traditional knowledge,” said Nomtunzi Api, a community representative from Alice.

In a “ground-breaking” judgment in Munich this week, the European Patent Office (EPO) withdrew a patent held by Schwabe Pharmaceuticals to produce an extract from the roots of two species, Pelargonium sidoides and Pelargonium reniforme. The extract is the active ingredient in
Schwabe’s popular treatment for bronchitis, Umckaloabo. But the patent for the extraction process was successfully challenged by members of the rural Eastern Cape community of Alice, represented by NGO the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) and a Swiss anti-biopiracy watchdog, the Berne Declaration. The patent was also opposed by several of Schwabe’s competitors in a public hearing before the EPO’s Opposition Division.

According to EPO spokesman Rainer Osterwalder, the patent was revoked because the extraction process

JOY AS PELARGONIUM PATENT REVOKED

Munich 26 January 2010. The Opposition Division of the European Patent Office (EPO) has today revoked a patent granted to Dr. Willmar Schwabe (Schwabe) in its entirety. The patent was opposed by the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) from South Africa acting on behalf of a rural community in Alice, in the Eastern Cape, in collaboration with the Swiss anti-biopiracy watchdog, the Berne Declaration.
The patent was in respect of a method for producing extracts of Pelargonium sidoides and Pelargonium reniforme to make Schwabe’s blockbuster cough and colds syrup, Umckaloabo. It was revoked because the Opposition Division found that the patent did not satisfy the requirements of the European Patent Convention dealing with inventiveness.
Both species of pelargonium are harvested from the wild in the Eastern Cape and exported to Europe for the production of Umckaloabo.

Nomtunzi Api, a representative from the Alice community, expressed elation in response to the revocation, “this is the first time that a patent is challenged successfully by Africans. It gives us hope for the future because the patent ends Schwabe’s monopoly over the use of our genetic resources and traditional knowledge.”
According to Mariam Mayet of the ACB, “Patent

Pelargonium Patent Challenge against Dr. Willmar Schwabe

Documents pertaining to the Case

1 Notice of opposition EP 1 429 795 B1 ACB Download
2 Notice of Opposition by Dr Dolder obo ACB and Berne Declaration dated 10 March 2008 Dr Older Download
3 Reply filed by Dr Willmar Schwabe dated 18 December 2008 Dr Schwabe Download
4 Summons to hearing by EPO dated 22 September 2009 EPO Download
5 Preliminary opinion by Opposition Division of EPO EPO Download
6 Reply by Dr Dolder obo ACB and Berne Declaration dated 20 November 2009 Dr Dolder Download

Background documents

1 ACB Briefing Paper: Knowledge Not For Sale: Umckaloabo and the Pelargonium Patent Challenges Download
2 ACB’s Frequently Asked Questions on the Pelargonium Patent Challenges Download

Overview

1 Fact Sheet on Pelargonium Patent Challenges, ACB, Berne Declaration EED, January 2010 Download
2 Biopiracy Under Fire: The pelargonium Patent Hearing Download

Geraniums Stop that Cough – Pelargonium Factsheet

Rural community of South Africa stands up against pelargonium-patents and biopiracy.

The Alice community, living in the Eastern Cape area of South Africa, in close collaboration with the African Center for Biosafety and supported by the Berne Declaration (Switzerland) , the Church Development Service (EED) and ?Kein Patent auf Leben? (Germany), has challenged two European patents granted to the German company Schwabe Pharmaceuticals. Both patents are based on two pelargonium species that occur in the wild in South Africa. The Patents are seen as an illegitimate and illegal monopolisation of a genetic resource from Southern Africa and the traditional knowledge of the communities in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

read more

Rural Community of SA stand up against Pelargonium Patents & Biopiracy

Rural community of South Africa stands up against pelargonium-patentsand biopiracy. The Alice community, living in the Eastern Cape area of South Africa, in close collaboration with the African Center for Biosafety and supported by the Berne Declaration (Switzerland) , the Church Development Service (EED) and ?Kein Patent auf Leben? (Germany), has challenged two European patents granted to the German company Schwabe Pharmaceuticals. Both patents are based on two pelargonium species that occur in the wild in South Africa. The Patents are seen as an illegitimate and illegal monopolisation of a genetic resource from Southern Africa and the traditional knowledge of the communities in the Ea stern Cape Province of South Africa.

read more

“Knowledge not for Sale” – A Briefing Paper by the African Centre for Biosafety

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) is a non-profi t, activist NGO based in South Africa, specialising in promoting biosafety and challenging biopiracy, agrofuels and the commodification of biological resources and associated traditional knowledge.

read more

Bioprospecting, Biopiracy and Indigenous Knowledge: Two Case Studies from the Eastern Cape, SA

By Misaki M Koyama and Mariam Mayet

Publisher: African Centre for Biosafety (ISBN: 978-0-620-39674-5
Year: 2007, No of pages: 60

New Book Release

This book provides a critical overview of South Africa’s legal regime with a view to investigating its ability to stem the tide of biopiracy involving indigenous knowledge. Against this backdrop, two case studies are discussed from the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. In this province, the vast majority of inhabitants rely on traditional medicine for their health care and cultural requirements.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Misaki M Koyama is a research and campaigner with the African Centre for Biosafety. Mariam Mayet is the founder and Director of the ACB.

Contents

Introduction
Section One: Background and overview of key issues
Section Two: Legal Framework in South Africa: details and shortcomings
Section Three: Case Study 1: Indigenous knowledge and the Pelargonium patents
Case Study 2: Bioprospecting and research institutions

Conclusion

Annexure A: Applicable international treaties and key national South African legislation affecting Indigenous knowledge and bioprospecting

Annexure B: The Schwabe Group

References

Price: R50 per copy, including postage.

Drug Companies Looting SA’s bounty of Medicinal Plants

The government has stepped in to save a tiny South African plant from extinction after hundreds of tons were harvested for foreign drug companies, one of which has patented its use to fight HIV/Aids. Now traditional healers, who have used the plant for centuries, are trying to win back the patent which they claim is rightfully theirs.

read more