The ACB is committed to dismantling inequalities in the food and agriculture systems in Africa and the promotion of agro-ecology and food sovereignty.

Profits, power and myth making: Monsanto’s ‘bogus’ GM drought tolerant maize challenged in South Africa’s High Court

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has lodged an appeal to the High Court of South Africa to overturn decisions of the GMO authority, the GMO Appeal Board and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, to commercialise Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) drought tolerant (DT) maize seed. More than 25 000 concerned citizens have signed petitions and submitted objections in support yet the South African government ignores the pleas of its people.

The appeal raises a number of irregularities with the decision-making processes, which ACB argues flout South Africa’s Constitution and laws prescribing administrative justice and procedural fairness. ACB is alleging mere rubbing stamping of Monsanto’s claims that its patented GM DT trait (MON 87460) confers drought tolerance. Monsanto’s claims of drought tolerance are disputed based on sound science; a single gene (cspB) does not confer efficacious drought tolerance and is yet another risky and novel gene introduced into the staple food of millions of people in South Africa in the name of corporate profits.

The ACB and various organisations and members of the public have since 2008, resisted Monsanto’s unproven claimed benefits of drought tolerance. The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project has specifically come under close scrutiny.

Objection to commercial release of MON87460 X NK603 X MON89034 (triple stacked involving drought tolerant maize trait)

In this objection, ACB raises numerous concerns with the application by Monsanto for the commercial release of the triple stacked event.

Drought tolerance is a highly complex genetic trait that cannot be addressed by single gene insertions, as shown by the lack of data backing up the applicant’s claim that this GM variety shows “improvements to yield under drought stress”. n 2016, the ACB also submitted an objectionto the extension of field trials, supported by a petition with over 20 00 signatures. In addition, 63 members of the public copied the objections they have submitted to the Registrar: GMO Act regarding these trials. Members of the public have similarly in respect to this application, signed a petition opposing these trials as well as 71 having submitted direct objections to the Registrar: GMO Act.

Download Objection in PDF

Mega-mergers: 3 giant corporations controlling South Africa’s food and farming systems

This briefing deals with the three mega mergers taking place in the agriculture sector as Dow Chemical and DuPont are set to merge, China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) is to acquire Syngenta and Bayer is to acquire Monsanto. The proposed Bayer-Monsanto merger will give control of almost 30% of the world’s commercial seed market and almost 25% of the world’s commercial pesticide and herbicide (agrochemical) markets to just one company. These mergers expand and intensify an extractivist economic model that will deepen inequalities and our current ecological, political and social crises. They also reveal an insidious and deep penetration of food production systems by finance capital such as Blackrock and the Vanguard Group.

Download the 10 page summary report in PDF

Download the full report in PDF

 

Easy-to-read materials on the revision of South African Seed laws: entrenching an unjust and unsustainable seed system

As we continue to engage and mobilise around the seed policy and legislation revisions, ACB has developed 2 easy-to-read documents outlining the central concerns and possible alternative directions for seed policy to move in South Africa.

Despite the public interest to support an equitable seed system, the Plant Improvement and Plant Breeders’ Rights Bills, create an environment for further corporate ownership of the commercial seed system, which ultimately excludes and criminalises small-scale farmers and small seed enterprises.

We need to be able to freely exchange seed, and enable farmer-managed seed systems to flourish, for the of future of our seed.

Right now, National government is moving across the country engaging in Provincial briefing and Public engagements on these Bills. Now is the time to educate ourselves on the draconian, oppressive, and vulnerable state of our seed systems.

Download Lobby paper PIA in pdf

Download Lobby paper PBR in pdf

View additional comments Jan 30, 2017 here “Standing up for farmer-saved seeds, agrobiodiversity and seed sovereignty! ACB commenting on revised seed laws in South Africa” .

ACB Submission to Competition Commission on Bayer Monsanto merger

This submission is made by the ABC because of serious public interest concerns about the proposed merger between Bayer and Monsanto. This merger is occurring in the context of other related mergers in agricultural input supply, between ChemChina-Syngenta and Dow-Du Pont.

We urge the Commission to consider the wider implications of these mergers beyond a narrow view of competition in segmented product markets. These include the entrenchment of the dominant technological platform in agricultural inputs, broader impacts on the agro-food system, agricultural biodiversity, input prices for farmers and knock-on effects on food prices, domestic innovation, and implications for just economic transformation and widening the base of productive activity.

Download the ACB Bayer Monsanto Submission

Two simplified briefings introducing new GM technologies and biosafety risks

These reports introduce the novel techniques already being employed, or in development and their associated biosafety concerns that go against the claim that crops developed with these methods are technological progress in ‘precision’ and ‘safety’. Further described is the utilisation of RNA interference, an epigenetic process that is already being employed in commercialised crops. Despite not being a novel technique under discussion for GM legislation, the utilisation of epigenetic processes based on RNA interference deserves special consideration for biosafety discussion.

Download Plant Breeding report

Download the Gene Editing report

Bayer-Monsanto merger: An existential threat to South Africa’s food system

PRESS RELEASE

In December 2016 Monsanto shareholders voted in favour of the sale of the company to Bayer for US$66 billion, making it the largest-ever foreign corporate takeover by a German company.

Both Bayer and Monsanto are major global manufacturers of agrochemicals and seeds, including genetically modified seed. A merged entity would be the world’s largest supplier by sales of both seeds and pesticides, controlling 29 percent of the world’s commercial seed markets and 24 percent of the world’s pesticide markets. Bayer and Monsanto are major actors in South Africa’s seed and agrochemical industries. The deal will require approval from about 30 regulatory agencies around the world, including by South Africa’s Competition Commission.

The BAYER-MONSANTO merger: Implications for South Africa’s agricultural future and its smallholder farmers

This paper explores the likely implications of an approved Bayer-Monsanto merger for the South African agricultural system. It outlines the trend of consolidation occurring within the seed and agrochemical industries, provides a background to the merger, criticises the rationale given for the merger by Bayer and Monsanto and outlines concerns should the merger be approved in South Africa.

These concerns focus on the implications for South African farmers, smallholder farmers
in particular. The paper argues that further consolidation of an already corporate- controlled seed sector is not needed and that it undermines the emergence of an alternative system that would support smallholder farmers in contributing to food security in an egalitarian agricultural economy.

Download the full report in PDF

 

Against the odds, smallholder farmers maintain agricultural biodiversity in South Africa

This report is a result of research conducted in partnership with Tshintsha Amakhaya, Farmer Support Group, TCOE Zingisa and Surplus People Project. The report investigates the state of farmer-managed seed systems in rural South Africa.

Through 3 case studies in Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, the report highlights both the fragility and perseverance of smallholder farmers, who continue to maintain agricultural biodiversity and traditional knowledge, in the face of increasing pressure from all sides. Smallholder farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to make end meet in an agricultural sector dominated by large-scale commercial production and corporate value chains.

Multinational corporations dominate seed provision in South Africa, further driving a commercial and industrial Green Revolution agenda. Farmer-managed seed systems, and the diversity of crops and diets that rely on them, are marginalised and neglected in the process.
The research is one step in highlighting the threats and opportunities facing smallholders and biodiversity in an increasingly harsh production environment. ACB will continue working with our partners and smallholder farmers to support and promote sustainable farming practices and farmer-managed seed systems as part of our broader objectives to transform seed and food systems in South Africa.

Download full report in PDF format

Standing up for farmer-saved seeds, agrobiodiversity and seed sovereignty! ACB commenting on revised seed laws in South Africa

ACB submitted comments on the Plant Breeders’ Rights and Plant Improvement Bills, to the Select Committee on Land and Mineral Resources on the 24th January 2017.

These bills restrict the saving, trading, exchanging, and sale of seed. This can have massive ramifications on seed and food sovereignty, agricultural biodiversity, access to diverse seed, and increasing the disparities and inequalities in South African agriculture, food and nutrition.

ACB will continue to engage in this process to ensure that South African seed laws take into account farmer-managed seed systems, agrobiodiversity, and maintain farmer’s rights to save, reuse, exchange, and sell seed.

We invite interested parties to join this conversation, to fight for our right to seed.

 

Download the ACB Comments on the PBR Bill in pdf

Download the ACB Comments on the PIA Bill in pdf