Tag Archive: United States

Declaration on Plant Variety Protection and Seed Laws from the South-South Dialogue

We, participants at the South-South Dialogue, are members of peasant and civil society organisations and concerned individuals from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe working on issues of food and seed sovereignty, peasants’ control of seed production and exchange, and biodiversity. We gathered in Durban, South Africa 27-29 November 2015 to share information and knowledge, and to come to a common understanding on seed and plant variety protection (PVP) policy and laws and strategies for resistance and alternatives in the global South.

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We are working in our countries and regions to advance the ongoing global struggle for socially just and ecologically sustainable societies, in which farming households and communities have control and decision-making power over the production and distribution of food and seed.

Human societies and the seeds we use to produce the food that sustains us have grown symbiotically over millennia. Seeds emerged from nature and have been diversified, conserved, nurtured and enhanced through processes of human experimentation, discovery and innovation throughout this time. Seeds have been improved by means of traditional and cultural knowledge transmitted from generation to generation. Seeds are therefore the collective

African Civil Society Statement: Call for a ban on GMOs

Download the petition for a ban on GMOs to the African Union.

 

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[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_tour interval=”0″][vc_tab title=”English” tab_id=”2e3d9241-4a0f-cl”] Introduction
We, the undersigned, members of civil society organisations from across the African continent, hereby call for an immediate and complete ban on the growing, importing and exporting of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on the African continent.

We call upon the governments of Africa to take the necessary steps to protect the health of their populations by supporting this call and commit to conducting independent and authoritative long-term food safety studies.

We also call upon the governments of Africa to take note of our additional strong objections to GMOs. These concern the patenting of life forms and privatisation of agriculture, which has led to the dependence by farmers, rural communities and indigenous people on external private and monopolistic seeds suppliers. We are also extremely concerned about the adverse impact of industrial and GM based agriculture on biodiversity and climate change. We cannot ignore the suicide epidemic of farmers in India- a direct result of farmers’ dependence on GM cotton- and the resultant increased costs and unmanageable debt.
Scientific uncertainty about food safety
During September 2012, Professor Gilles-Eric S?ralini,

GM Maize in SA

Genetically modified maize in South Africa

 
Genetically modified (GM) maize is big business globally. In 2011, farmers grew about 51 million hectares of GM maize.
Most of this production happened in the United States where the majority of GM crops are being grown. There are just four major GM crops grown in the world today and maize and soya make up the bulk of these. We have been told that GM crops are the answer to world hunger but the majority of this maize is not grown for food. It is grown mostly for animal feed and shipped around the world by massive agricultural commodity trading companies such as Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Bunge. These grain trading companies are some of the wealthiest corporations in the world. In 2010, these three companies together earned about 200 billion US dollars from trading maize, soya and other grain crops on the global market. Makes you wonder, do GM crops feed hungry people or hungry corporations?

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African Millet Under Threat

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has focused several recent reports on new international commercial interest and patent claims on the African native crop sorghum. This includes the issues raised by the proposed widespread use of sorghum for the production of agrofuels.
This report extends ACB‘s examination of new international commercial interest in African native crops, by including a focus on pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) and related African native grass species in the Pennisetum genus.i

Globally, pearl millet is less widely sown than sorghum, yet it is a key food and feed crop in arid and semi-arid parts of Africa and Asia (particularly India). Pearl millet occupies smaller but significant markets in the US, Europe, and elsewhere, where it is mainly grown for animal feed and forage. In the US, for example, pearl millet is grown on about 600,000 hectares each year. To a lesser extent, it is also grown outside Africa for human food.

Other African pennisetums, such as Napiergrass, are also economically important outside Africa. They are sold in the lucrative landscape plant markets, as lawn grasses, and as feed and forage for the bird and exotic game hunting industries.1 In the

Sorghum and the Antioxidant Craze: What Benefit for Africa’s Farmers?

A highly successful health food company in the United States, Silver Plate Inc, is seeking to cash in on the health benefits of sorghum. More particularly, it has begun to commercialize foods rich in sorghum anthocyanins, natural “antioxidant” chemicals found in some strongly coloured plant foods that are believed to have heart and other health benefits.

Unlike many major cereal crops, high antioxidant genetic traits are readily available to sorghum breeders. This is because of the work of generations of African farmers, who selected and bred coloured sorghums for various purposes, including dyes for fabric, making food crops resistant to depredation by birds and disease resistance.

The owners of Silver Palate have a successful track record in the health foods sector. In 2007, they sold one of their companies, which makes fat-free imitation butter, for US $490 million.1 Now, these same entrepreneurs are interested in sorghum. They have entered into agreements with major US supermarket chains to sell sorghum products, including breakfast cereals, baking mixes and crackers.
Silver Palate is negotiating to gain rights to sorghum varieties held by Texas Agricultural & Mechanical University (Texas A&M), from its enormous collection belonging to African farmers. Although it is a public

ACB’s objection to GA21 x Bt 11

As usual, we have only been furnished with information that the developers deem to be ‘non-confidential’, so crucial data required to make a thorough independent assessment is missing. Excluded information included details of test data specific to South African growing conditions.

The cauliflower mosaic virus 35s promoter (35S-CaMV) is present in GA21 x Bt11. There is a substantial body of evidence from both the laboratory and field studies pointing to the risks of using this particular promoter in genetic engineering.

Bt11 secrets a toxin that is lethal to some plant pests. Claims that this leads to reduced applications of pesticides neglect to mention that the Bt11 toxin will be ever present in an environment where this is planted. In China, where over 10 million small scale farmers grown Bt cotton, famers are now having to use nearly as much pesticides as before its introduction to combat secondary pests that have thrived since the introduction of Bt11.

GA21 x Bt 11 is tolerant to glyphosate based herbicides (traded under the name Roundup Ready). In the United States the widespread planting of Roundup Ready crops has led to the emergence of ‘superweeds’ that are causing havoc for farmers. In Argentina,

ACB’s objection to Monsanto’s commodity clearance application for Smartstax

In the 20th of April the Business Day newspaper carried a public notice of Monsanto‘s application to the South African GMO registrar for permission to import Smartstax maize, arguably the world’s most controversial and risky commercially grown GMO. While the majority of commercially grown genetically engineered crops contain at most 3 foreign genes, Smartstax contains eight, 6 of which are for insect resistance and a further 2 for resistance to chemical herbicides. Smartstax was granted approval in the US and Canada on the basis that the parent GM maize lines that were cross bred to create it were previously classified as safe, meaning that Smartstax has not even been subject to proper risk assessment! Several prominent biosafety experts at the United Nations have already expressed their dismay at this assumption of safety, while the issue of stacked GMOs is set to be a major area of contention at the upcoming Convention on Biodiversity meeting in Japan later this year. Having viewed Monsanto‘s application (in accordance with our constitutional rights), the African Centre for Biosafety has written to the GMO registrar expressing our grave concerns over several risks we were able to identify from the limited information

Malawi – GMO Legislation

OVERVIEW

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

Mozambique – GMO Legislation

OVERVIEW

The proposed biosafety regulatory regime (hereafter referred to as the “draft biosafety law” or “biosafety law”) of the Republic of Mozambique consists of a draft Decree of Council of Ministers, containing the biosafety regulation and 2 draft technical guidelines for risk evaluation as well as public awareness and participation in biosafety and biotechnology related issues.

The biosafety regulation itself consists of a preamble, 27 articles, organised in 9 chapters and 6 annexes, and a glossary of terms.

The draft biosafety law is typically a permitting system, based on a step-bystep, case-by-case risk assessment, evaluation and decision-making that adopt a risk management approach to genetic engineering in food agriculture and medicine. By this we mean that Mozambique views genetic engineering as having a role to play in agriculture, food security and human health care, but that the risks have to be managed by the creation of an enabling legislative environment, to this end. In other words, Mozambique will follow the route taken by South Africa and permit the entry of GMOs into its agriculture systems, after a desk- top evaluation of the risk assessment data provide by an applicant.

Currently, Mozambique’s seed law prohibits the import and planting of GM

BT-Maize MON863 and MON863 X MON810 / Monsanto

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
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  • CoverLetter_Mon830X810.pdf Cover Letter to the Registrar
    August 2004
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OVERVIEW
SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIONS

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