Tag Archive: Kenya

Civil Society Statement on COMESA Seed Trade Laws

This submission was made by civil society groups at a COMESA meeting in Lusaka during March 2013, in which serious concerns were raised about the COMESA seed trade laws as negatively impacting on small farmers in the COMESA region.

Statement made by:
Zambia Climate Change Network (ZCCN); East and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) ? Zambia; Participatory Ecological Land-Use (PELUM) Association; Alliance for Agro-Ecology and Biological Diversity Conservation; Kasisi Agriculture Training Centre (KATC); Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT); Green Living Movement (GLM); African Centre for Biosafety (ACB)

 

 

The Regulations allow for the expedited registration of seeds to enable the creation of a seed free trade zone within the COMESA region. ?Seed trade? is not defined in the regulations as being restricted to only the commercial seed sector. In this regard, there are serious concerns that the Regulations do not provide any safeguards that small farmers will be allowed to freely use, save, sell, barter and exchange traditional varieties of seed.? Lack of these safeguards will open the door for the criminalising of the customary practises of small farmers to exchange, sell and

GM Industry Called to Account: ISAAA’s report mischievous and erroneous

The Africa Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has dismissed the findings of the biotechnology industry’s flagship annual report, published by the GM industry funded ‘NGO’, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), as mischievous and erroneous.
According to the report, South Africa’s GM crop area increased by a record 26% or 600,000 hectares over the last 12 months. However, Mariam Mayet, director of the ACB points out: “The ISAAA in its desperate attempt to bolster the popularity of GM crops in the media, has overestimated the spread of GM crops in SA by a staggering 400%! According to the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the combined maize and soybean cultivation in South Africa increased by less than 150,000 ha over the stated period and the area planted with GM cotton has declined by 3,000 ha.”

In fact South Africa has witnessed an increase in non-GM maize cultivation. Between the 2010/11 and 2011/12 growing seasons, the area of non GM maize cultivation increased by 38% (or 210,000 ha). “It is likely that the issue of insect pests developing resistance to the toxins produced by GM maize is a major factor behind this

Open Letter to African Governments and AGRA (The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa)

The undersigned 28 civil society organizations support and represent the interests of smallholder farmers and livestock keepers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and are concerned with the conservation of agricultural biodiversity for livelihood security and food sovereignty.

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View the full statement here.

Statement on AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa)

At a farmers rights meeting held in Uganda September 2012 a statement was drawn up and signed by many concerned parties.

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Download the press release here.
Signatures:

1. ActionAid, Tanzania
2. ActionAid, Uganda
3. Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment, Uganda
4. African Biodiversity Network – representing 36 organisations in Africa
5. African Centre for Biosafety, South Africa
6. Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development, Uganda
7. Community Technology Development Trust, Zimbabwe
8. Eastern amp; Southern Africa Farmer’s Forum, Tanzania
9. Eastern amp; Southern Africa Farmer’s Forum, Uganda
10. Eastern amp; Southern Africa Farmer’s Forum, Zambia
11. Envirocare, Tanzania
12. Ethio-Organic Seed Action, Ethiopia
13. Food Rights Alliance, Uganda
14. Inades Formation, Kenya
15. Kenya Biodiversity Coalition – representing 67 civil society groups
16. National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda
17. Participatory Ecological Land Use Management – representing 230 civil society
groups including
18. PELUM Kenya,
19. PELUM Rwanda,
20. PELUM Tanzania and
21. PELUM Uganda.
22. Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute, Uganda
23. Surplus People Project, South Africa
24. Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity, Tanzania – representing 15 organisations
25. The Pincer Group International Ltd, Uganda
26. Third World Network
27.

Objections to Monsanto’s application for spate of field trials with GM drought tolerant maize, September 2012

Field trials with MON 87460 are currently underway in South Africa at Hopetown, Orania, Pretoria, Lutzville and Delareyville.

These field trials form part of a larger initiative under the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project, a public-private partnership between African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF), Monsanto, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and the South African Agricultural Research Council (ARC). A combination of conventional breeding, marker-assisted breeding and transgenics are being used to develop maize with improved drought stress tolerance. WEMA also has partnerships with the national agricultural agencies of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. According to the permit applications, “The goal of WEMA is to provide smallholder farmers in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa with access to water efficient transgenic maize hybrids, royalty free, enabling them to produce more reliable harvests”.

CONTENTS:

Introduction
Rational for this application
Status of approval of Monsanto‘s drought-tolerant maize in the USA
Our main concerns
The nature of drought resistance
Other approaches to drought
The mon87460 transgenic cassette
Lack of monitoring
Socio-economic impacts
Lack of biosafety capacity in South Africa
Conclusion
References

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Alert to anti-GM activists in Egypt, India, Mexico and South Korea

South Africa’s GM maize flooding into your countries!!!

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has been monitoring the GMO landscape in South Africa since 2004. As recently as three years ago South Africa was importing millions of tons of GM maize from Argentina, used mainly in the animal feed industry. During 2010, South African maize farmers produced a 6 million ton maize surplus, which included a large percentage of GM maize. With the threat of financial ruin looming large, industry has been scouring the globe in search of new export markets. Last February, nearly 300,000 tons of GM maize was earmarked for export to Kenya. However, this evoked a huge scandal because the GM maize had not been approved in Kenya, resulting in many of the shipments being held up in Mombasa harbor, amid a flurry of contrary statements issued by the Kenyan and South African governments.

Further shipments that fell through regulatory cracks were dispatched to Swaziland, Mozambique and even Somalia. The really lucrative markets for commodity grains are found beyond Africa’s shores in Europe, the Middle East and East Asia (making a mockery of the idea that GM crops have been developed to alleviate global hunger).

A good neighbour? South Africa forcing GM maize onto African markets and policy makers

Since the beginning of 2010, South Africa’s Executive Council responsible for GMO permit approvals has granted export permits for almost 300,000 Metric Tons (MT) of GM maize to be exported to Kenya, Mozambique, and Swaziland collectively, and 35,000 MT of GM soybean to Mozambique.1 Despite South Africa being Africa’s largest producer of maize, and a regular exporter of non-GM maize or maize containing only adventitiousi GM maize to African countries, these export permits are the first cases of outright commodity exports of GM maize from South Africa to other African countries.

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Force-feeding South Africans: Monsanto’s Smartstax 8 gene GM maize coming to a store near you!

Johannesburg 21 April 2010. Monsanto has made an application to the South African GMO authorities for permission to import Smartstax maize, one of the most controversial and risky GMOs ever produced for commercial use.

The ACB recently published a report featuring Smartstax titled ‘The stacked gene revolution: A biosafety nightmare’. We pointed out that while the majority of commercially cultivated GM food crops contain 3 new genes at most, Smartstax contains 8! Several prominent scientists at the United Nations have expressed grave concerns about the biosafety implications of this, and also the lax safety assessments carried out. Smartstax has been approved in the US and Canada for commercial cultivation.

According to Mariam Mayet, Director of the ACB, ?Stacked GMOs represent the biotech industry’s blitzkrieg for increased control of the food chain. The more genes ‘stacked’ into their seeds, the higher their profits.? One and two trait GM seed varieties are being replaced by their more expensive multiple stacked varieties.

In November last year, Monsanto chairman Hugh Grant hubristically claimed that he expected the gene giant to triple its 2007 gross profits by 2012. Smartstax was to be one of the cornerstone’s of this expansion. However, Monsanto is

ACB’s objection to Monsanto’s application for trial release of drought tolerant GM maize MON 87460

Monsanto has been conducting field trials of drought tolerant maize in South Africa since 2007, and has recently applied to have these trials extended. Monsanto has presented the trials as forming part of the much larger Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Initiative, of which the African Centre for Biosafety has already criticised in a previous publication. Having viewed, the albeit exremely limited ‘non-confidential-business-information’ version, of Monsanto’s appeal document, the ACB feels it pertinent to bring several glaring concerns of ours to the public attention.

Drought tolerance in plants is an incredibly complex characteristic, involving up to 60 seperate genes (remember the majority of commercially grown GM crops contain just 1 or 2 artificially inserted genes). Monsanto even admits in its application that under conditions of extreme drought, the apocalyptic visions of which the biotech industry frequently uses to justify its activities, MON 87460’s yield ‘can be reduced to zero’. Bearing this in mind, and taking into consideration the very real risks we have identified from Monsantos application, including horizontal gene transfer, the use of anti-biotic resistance marker genes and the danger of cross pollination with conventional vareties, we fail to see how the continuation of these trials can be

Africa’s Green Revolution Drought Tolerant Maize Scam

Prediction of exacerbated drought in Africa due to climate change is apparently the driving force behind the establishment of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) initiative, another prong of the so-called ?New Green Revolution for Africa?. WEMA seeks to develop drought tolerant maize varieties through a program which is being presented as a panacea for solving issues of hunger on the continent using marker assisted breeding and genetic engineering. That this is being done under the guise of philanthropy sidesteps questions about the real causes of hunger, disregards issues of imbalanced global distribution of food and underplays the financial benefits to be derived by the various proponents of the scheme. The possible risks to small-scale farmers, whom WEMA targets, include loss of biodiversity through gene flow, a dependence on expensive inputs into farming, possible exposure to intellectual and property rights claims and impacts on their food security. The most effective ways of supporting small-scale farmers is through agro-ecological approaches to farming. These focus on small-scale sustainable agriculture; locally adapted seed and ecological farming that better addresses the complexities of climate change, hunger, poverty and productive demands on agriculture in the developing world.

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