It is with extreme disquiet that the African Centre for Biosafety notes the recent spate of new applications for GM experiments in South Africa, see below. We are extremely concerned that our government has laid our country open to the wholesale experimentation involving a whole new range of GM applications, in a context where there is no room for public debate and consultation.
The government of Malawi published its biosafety draft regulations in The Malawi Gazette Supplement on the 13th September 2002 (“biosafety law”) at the height of the GM food aid controversy when several countries in Southern Africa imposed restrictions on the acceptance of genetically modified food aid from the United States. Malawi accepted the GM food aid, with few restrictions being imposed. At the time of writing, the writer obtained conflicting information as to whether the draft law had been promulgated. However, the writer was able to ascertain that the biosafety law, represents the current biosafety framework.
Malawi is not yet a Party to the United Nation’s Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (“Biosafety Protocol“), nor is it amongst the 123 developing countries participating in the UNEP-GEF Biosafety Capacity Building project. It was however, one of 7 “core target” countries in Southern Africa that participated in a USAID funded biosafety capacity building project, the Southern Africa Regional Biotechnology Program (SARB)”.
SARB is a sub-project of a larger United States Assistance for International Development (USAID) project, managed by the Michigan State University, Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program (ABSP). ABSP’s private sector partners include, Asgrow, Monsanto Co. Garst See Company
We have been approached by civil society groups in Swaziland to provide comments on the Draft National Policy Document, “Creating an enabling environment for the safe use of biotechnology and its products in Swaziland” and the Biosafety Bill, 2005.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)/World Food Programme (WFP) crop and food supply assessment mission to Swaziland, 20051, the country is gripped by yet another food crisis. They estimate the cereal import requirement for 2005/06 marketing year (March/April) to be 110 600 tonnes, of which 69 700 tonnes are expected to be commercially imported from South Africa, its main trading partner and producer and importer of genetically modified (GM) maize, Soybean and cotton. By March/April 2005, approximately 6 200 tonnes of food aid was on hand and in the pipeline, but a deficit of 34 700 tonnes remains to be provided by additional donor assistance.
Swaziland is a net food importing country. Maize is virtually the sole staple for the majority of the population and is the dominant crop grown by the majority of rural households in the communal Swazi Nation Land (SNL), which accounts for about 86% of the land area planted.
Now that the dust is settling after industry’s aggressive PR hype about the unsubstantiated increase in South Africa’s GM commercial plantings for 2006, we bring to you, based upon empirical data, a short briefing paper on the field trials of GMOs grown in South Africa during 2006, compiled by ACB researcher, Rose Williams. This briefing paper is a precursor to a biohazard map we have compiled of the field trials for 2006, spread wide across our country, following on from the precedent set by Greenpeace India. This is now available on the ACB website:
The ACB has long held the position that the ISAAA obtains its figures of GM commercial plantings directly from the mouths of the seed companies operating in South Africa, who have an interest in painting a rosy picture of an utterly contested technology.
Industry’s PR has obfuscated important issues such as the impact of the higher price of maize and South Africa’s biofuels policy (conversion of maize to ethanol) on maize production in South Africa and absurdly attributing that to consumer acceptance; the moratorium in South Africa on new GM varieties and concomitant aggressive marketing by industry; and most importantly that South Africa has
SUBMISSION OF OBJECTIONS BY THE AFRICAN CENTRE FOR BIOSAFETY (ACB)
- Objections to the Application Made by Monsanto South Africa for a Commodity Import Permit of Grain for Feed and Food Purposes that may Contain Maize Grains Derived From Insect-Protected Maize Line Mon863 and Maize Hybrids Mon863 X Mon810
Mariam Mayet and Shenaz Moola, August 2004
- CoverLetter_Mon830X810.pdf Cover Letter to the Registrar
A scientific assessment was made of the available information. The main findings of this assessment, which are discussed in greater detail later in the document, are:
- A full assessment of the scientific data could not be made because of the designation of large sections of this data as Confidential Business Information
- The molecular characterisation information provided by the notifier indicates several irregularities including open reading frames, a missing stop codon and truncated constructs which could give rise to unintended gene effects
- There is evidence of structural instability arising out of the use of the 35S CaMV promoter and there is a call for the discontinuation of the use of this genetic element in the development of transgenic plants
- The protocols for assessing gene expression in transgenic plants are
SUBMISSION OF OBJECTIONS BY THE AFRICAN CENTRE FOR BIOSAFETY (ACB)
Objection to Public Notice by Monsanto SA (Pty) Ltd, Published in BUSINESS DAY, Monday, 19th January 2004: Application for commodity clearance permit for genetically modified wheat
African Centre for Biosafety, February 2004
Endorsed by Safe Food Coalition; Ekogia Foundation; Steering Committee, South African Freeze Alliance On Genetic Engineering (Safeage); Earthlife Africa Ethekwini; Earth Women; African Rainbow Circle; Ukudla Kwethu; Mdumiseni Ndlela; Freedom Extravaganza Group; Khuzwayo; Wray White & Riaz Tayob
We, the undersigned organisations, groups and individuals, hereby lodge our objections to the above application. We ask that the decision-making authority, the Executive Council established in terms of the Genetically Modified Organisms Act (No. 15 of 1997) (“GMO Act”) either on its own, or in consultation with the Advisory Committee reject Monsanto‘s application. We are of the firm belief that ample grounds exist for Monsanto’s application to be rejected out of hand, alternatively, that Monsanto’s application is rejected on the basis of the precautionary principle, which is well established in the body of environmental law and policy in South Africa.
Our objections are principally based on the following, which is fully canvassed
SUBMISSION OF OBJECTIONS BY THE AFRICAN CENTRE FOR BIOSAFETY (ACB), BIOWATCH, AND EKOGAIA
GMPotatoesObjection.pdf Additional Comments and Objections to Continued Trials of GM Potatoes
African Centre for Biosafety, supported by various organisations, groups, companies, and individuals, Mar 2006
objection_bt_potato_g2_g3.pdf Objections to application for a permit for additional trials with insect resistant Bt Cry V Genetically Modified Potatoes (Solanum Tuberosum L. Variety ‘Spunta’ G2 and G3), as applied for by Dr G. Thompson, Director Plant Protection and Biotechnology , South African Agricultural Research Council, dated 24 May 2004 Download 157Kb
G. Ashton, G. Baker, M. Mayet, E. Pschorn-Strauss, W. Stafford, June 2004
Report2_Bt_Potato_G2G3.pdf Report 2003/2004 GMO Potato Project.
ARC-Roodeplaat, Vegetable and Ornamental Plant Institute and the Michigan State University (USA), made public in June 2004
1 Rights of Access to information severely prejudiced
The extensive deficiencies in the information supplied by the Applicant in response to our request for access to information in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (“PAIA”) coupled with the conflicting time frames provided by the Regulations under the Genetically Modified Organisms Act 15 of 1997 (“GMO Act” and those provided by PAIA, have severely restricted our rights to access