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.
During early in 2011, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) published a report titled ?Monitoring the Environmental Impacts of GM Maize in South Africa?. The report was a culmination of a study by the Environmental Biosafety Cooperation Project (EBCP) aimed at developing a framework for monitoring of insect resistant maize, Mon810, belonging to Monsanto.
The project, coordinated jointly by SANBI and the Directorate of Nature Management (DNI) in Norway, included contributions by the Norway based Centre for Biosafety (Gen?k) and the South African based, University of the Free Sate, University of Fort Hare and North West University.
The assessments were carried out over two planting maize seasons, 2008/2209 and 2009/2010 and were based upon a series of scientific studies that included field, glasshouse and laboratory assessments. The primary areas of interest included impacts on target and non-target organisms, impacts on soil organism biodiversity, as well as the impact of gene flow and its subsequent contribution to the development of insect resistance.
In this document, we take a critical look at the SANBI studies, and conclude that the SANBI studies for the most part only describe observed effects with no real or in-depth discussion of the causes
MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE AFRICAN CENTRE FOR BIOSAFETY
31st January, Johannesburg
The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), tasked by law, with monitoring the impacts of GMOs on the environment, has released its first report on 28th January 2011. The report co-produced by SANBI with premier biosafety unit, Genok in Norway and a number of South African universities record the findings of a three- year study on the impacts of Monsanto‘s GM maize, MON 810, on the South African environment. MON 810 is used extensively by maize producing commercial farmers in South Africa.
The study found that populations of insect pests have already developed resistance to the Bt maize in the North West Province (one of South Africa‘s most important maize growing areas). This has been exacerbated by gene flow between GM and non-GM maize varieties. The study also found that current refugia were hopelessly insufficient to manage resistance in areas where this has already developed.
At the molecular level, the study found that the size and expression of certain proteins differed between GM and non-GM maize plants analyzed. Further, Monsanto‘s Bt gene was found to differ significantly in size to that occurring naturally. These,
By the end of the year, the South African National Biosviersity Institute (SANBI), will conclude a three year, R14 million rand research project on the impact of Monsanto‘s GM maize variety MON810 on the South African environment. The research project is the first of its kind in South Africa, and will focus on the impacts on target and non-taget pest organisms, soil microbes, plant toxin levels produced and gene flow. The results are due to be published in December 2010