Tag Archive: maize

Running to Stand Still: Small-Scale Farmers and the Green Revolution in Malawi

According to ACB?s lead researcher, Dr Stephen Greenberg, ?our research found that small-scale farmers are using shockingly high levels ofsynthetic fertilisers at great financial costs to themselves and the publicpurse. Rising soil infertility is a feature of farming systems reliant on synthetic fertiliser. We found that farmers are increasingly adopting hybrid maize seed, encouraged by government subsidies and the promise of massive yields. However, adoption of these hybrid seeds comes at the cost of abandoning diversity and resilience of local seed varieties, and the ever escalating requirement for synthetic fertilisers. Indeed, our findings show net transfers away from farming households to agribusinesses such as SeedCo, Pannar (recentlymerged with Pioneer Hi-Bred), Monsanto and Demeter in the commercial seed industry. For fertiliser, the major fertiliser producers and distributors are Farmers World (which also owns Demeter seed), Yara, TansGlobe, Omnia and Rab Processors.?

Executive summary

read more

Full Report

read more

Press Release

read more

Below the belt, below the breadline – South Africa’s inequitable and GM contaminated bread industry

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has today brought into sharp focus the white bread industry in South Africa with the release of its new report “GM Contamination, Cartels and Collusion in South Africa’s Bread Industry.’ The report shows that the white bread tested contains high levels of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) soya in the soya flour used in the bread and that most companies are unashamedly flouting GM labelling laws and undermining the consumer’s right to know. The nation consumes about 2.8 billion loaves of bread a year, handing over more than R28 billion of their hard-earned cash to a cartel comprising Tiger Brands, Premier Foods, Pioneer Foods and Foodcorp, that controls the wheat-to-bread value chain. Roughly a quarter of South Africans live below the bread line and price fluctuations in bread – our second most important staple food after maize – has hit the poor the hardest.

Bread_Percentages

Executive Director of the ACB, Mariam Mayet commented, “A small number of unscrupulous cartels control and benefit from the value chains of our staple foods, maize and bread. They have been repeatedly sanctioned for anti-competitive behaviour, have been complicit in saturating our staple food with risky GM ingredients and

Objection to Monsanto’s application for commodity clearance for MON 89034 x MON 88017

This submission by Monsanto makes a joke of biosafety risk assessment in that it is not based on the actual event under consideration, but rather, the applicant posits claim of lack of harm, toxicity, and allergenicity based on data carried out on other lines containing the same transgene/event. This violates the case by case approach to GMO risk assessment enshrined in the GMO Act 1997. It also lacks sufficient scientific data to support claims of safety and this is exacerbated by lack of peer reviewed information on this event. In addition, the applicant has not considered the health impacts of the herbicide to which this event is engineered to tolerate. Furthermore, approval of this commodity import is likely to significantly impact upon commercial and emerging maize producers, and could have further impacts along the value chain. There are other issues affecting animal feed producers and consumers (the continuation of cheap chicken imports from the EU, for example), the resolution of which would do more to strengthen South Africa?s agricultural sector. It is the opinion of the ACB that this application should be rejected on both biosafety and socio-economic grounds.

read more

GM Maize Cartels Gorge Profits on SA’s Poor, Eye African Markets

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has today released its new research report titled ‘GM Maize: Lessons For Africa-Cartels, Collusion And Control Of South Africa’s Staple Food’ showing how a select group of companies, including Tiger Brands, Pioneer and Premier Foods who have previously fixed the price of bread and maize meal, commandeer the entire maize value chain and continue to squeeze the poorest South Africans. The ACB has recently shown that the entire maize meal market is saturated with GM maize.

read more

The report shows that the South African government, through the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is the largest investor in Tiger Brands, and that over 50% of the company’s shares are held outside South Africa. Pioneer Foods’ largest shareholder is Zeder, the agribusiness investment arm of PSG Konsult Group, a private financial services company. Premier Foods is 80% owned by private equity firm Braite, listed on the Euro MTF market in Luxemburg but domiciled in Malta, both jurisdictions being notorious tax havens. ‘These ownership patterns have increased the distance between food producers and consumers, and are lucrative avenues for capital accumulation by actors far removed from these firms’ locales.’ Said Mariam Mayet, Director

GM Maize: lessons for Africa – Cartels collusion and control of South Africa’s staple food

This is a briefing about power and control in our food system, focusing chiefly on South Africa’s staple food, maize. It shows how a select group of companies, including Tiger Brands, Pioneer and Premier Foods commandeer the entire maize value chain and continue to squeeze the poorest South Africans. These corporate giants are now glancing covetously to the vast African market north of the Limpopo. Experiences from South Africa should serve as stark warnings.

read more
Press statement.

Civil Society Calls for PUBLIC Parliamentary Hearings on Genetically Modified Food

On the 6th of August 2012, the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), supported by 18 health professionals, more than 7000 individuals, 22 organisations and the Honourable Cheryllyn Dudley of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), submitted a petition to the National Assembly. The petition called for a review of the government decision to allow the import of “agent orange” maize, a review of GMO risk assessment procedures and an open, public hearing on GMOs.

Over the past year, those who signed this petition have repeatedly called on the ACB for progress on this issue. Since we have had no response from government we opened up the signatures again and prepared this follow-up text to be handed in to Parliament on the 13th September 2013, together with new signatures, now totaling 10 000.

We have noted with great concern that the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ briefing on the 13th September 2013 on GM food in South Africa only includes presentations from government departments and excludes representatives from civil society, health professionals and scientists.

read more

Call for Parliamentary hearing on GMOs

Call for urgent Parliamentary hearing on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and transparent review of risk assessment procedures and public participation in GMO decision making
Mr. Mlungisi Lulu Johnson
Chair: Portfolio Committee on Agriculture
Parliament of South Africa
e-mail: mjohnson@parliament.gov.za
23/07/2013

Dear Honourable Mr Johnson,

Recent events, such as the nationwide protests against Monsanto and consumer outrage over the presence of genetically modified (GM) ingredients in well-known brands of baby food, illustrate that the issue of GM food is of great concern to the people of South Africa. Much of this public anger was triggered by the decision, in May 2012, of GMO Executive Council (SA?s GMO regulatory body) to permit the importation of the Dow Chemical Company?s GM maize, dubbed ?agent orange maize?, engineered to tolerate herbicides based on the highly toxic chemical 2,4-D.

As a result of this decision, on the 7th of August 2012 the ACB, with support from the African Christian Democratic Party, submitted a petition to Parliament calling for the reversal of the Executive Council?s decision to approve Dow?s 2,4-D tolerant maize for import and for a review of the GMO decision making process in South Africa. The petition was supported by 18 health

Open letter to the National Chamber of Milling on GMO labelling and the development of a GM-Free market

In July 2012 the National Chamber of Milling (NCM) posted a ?position on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) on its website, in which it supports the principle of consumer choice and pledges to ?encourage identity preservation within the grain supply chain to enable clear labelling of our product to the consumer market?.

However, the biotech industry lobby group AfricaBio, who have lobbied vociferously against the labelling of GM food in South Africa, has also claimed to have ?forged a strategic partnership with the NCM? to engage with government on the GM labelling issues. That being the case, the ACB has written an open letter to the NCM asking for clarification of its relationship with AfricaBio, to push for a stringent and accurate labelling and identity preservation system (including establishing GM free maize and soya chains) and supporting the independent, long term and transparent risk assessment of GMOs in South Africa.

2012 Tests

2013 Tests

FutureLife:

100% GM Maize, 37% GM Soya

Purity’s Cream of Maize: 56% GM maize

Purity Baby First: 71% GM maize

Bokomo Wheat free Pronutro:

90% GM maize, 71% GM soya

Ace supermaize meal: 78% GM maize
Ace maize rice: 70% GM maize
Ace instant porridge:

CIVIL SOCIETY PETITION TO TIGER BRANDS t/a PURITY

Outraged by the results of tests conducted by the ACB.
We, the undersigned members of civil society, are outraged by the ACB’s test results showing that Purity’s Cream of Maize tested positive as containing 56.25% GM maize; and Purity’s Purity Baby First tested positive as containing 71.47% GM maize.

We note with alarm, that this is not the first time that Purity’s Cream of Maize cereal tested positive for GM. In 2008, consumer watchdog SAFeAGE revealed the product to contain more than 24% GM maize.

We are deeply disappointed to learn that neither of these baby foods are labeled as containing products derived from genetically modified maize. We are of the view that Tiger Brands has acted disingenuously and deprived parents of crucial information about their baby’s nutrition. We do not want to eat GM food, much less feed our babies with GM cereals.

During September 2012, Professor Gilles-Eric S?ralini, and his research team at the University of Caen in France, published the results of a two-year animal feeding study in which rats fed with Monsanto’s herbicide tolerant GM maize, event NK603, and glyphosate residues, developed tumours and showed signs of liver and kidney damage.

South Africa exports ?unapproved? GM maize to Zimbabwe, continues to export to Mexico, contaminating both the region and centre of origin

African Centre for Biosafety, ETC Group, FoodMattersZimbabwe and CTDT

The ACB is deeply concerned by the news that the South African GMO authorities have permitted over 25,000 tons of GM maize to be exported to Zimbabwe. This is the first time that South African GM maize grains have been commercially exported to our neighbour north of the Limpopo, and adds to a growing list of African countries that have received bulk shipments of live GM grains from South Africa, including Swaziland, Mozambique, Kenya and Somalia.

Read the release in Spanish.

According to a spokesperson for the FoodMattersZimbabwe group ?Zimbabweans are under the impression that maize would be imported from Zambia and will be deeply upset by this news to import GM maize from South Africa. The government of Zimbabwe is currently promoting the use of open pollinated varieties (OPVs) of seed to strengthen our farmers? self-reliance. The importation of GM maize poses a serious risk of contaminating our OPV varieties; at the very least this GM maize must be milled before entering the country. ?

However, a cloud hangs over the legality of the shipments and whether the South African GMO authorities have indeed received an explicit written approval