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

Press Release: No benefit to imminent release of risky GM mosquitoes in Burkina Faso

Anopheles gambiae mosquito By James D. Gathany - The Public Health Image Library , ID#444, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=198377

Anopheles gambiae mosquito By James D. Gathany – The Public Health Image Library, ID#444, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=198377

Genetically modified (GM) “male-sterile” mosquitoes are due to be released in Burkina Faso this year by the Target Malaria research consortium. However, Target Malaria acknowledges that there are no benefits to the proposed GM mosquito release.

The project is set to apply for a permit to make an open release of 10,000 GM Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes: most likely in the village of Bana, west of Bobo Dioulasso.

The GM mosquitoes were exported from Imperial College in London to Burkina Faso in November 2016 and are currently in “contained use” facilities.

 

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Read more in FRENCH

 

For the briefing paper in English, please click here

For the briefing paper in French, please click here

Briefing Paper: GM Mosquitoes in Burkina Faso

Anopheles gambiae mosquito By James D. Gathany - The Public Health Image Library , ID#444, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=198377

Anopheles gambiae mosquito By James D. Gathany – The Public Health Image Library, ID#444, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=198377

In this briefing paper ACB, TWN and GeneWatch UK discuss that genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes were exported from Imperial College in London to Burkina Faso in November 2016. They are currently in “contained use” facilities in Bobo-Dioulasso, and are being used in experiments by a research consortium called Target Malaria. However, these GM mosquitoes are due to be released by Target Malaria in Burkina Faso in 2018.

 

For the briefing paper in English please click here

For the briefing paper in French please click here

Monsanto’s risky triple herbicide-tolerant soybeans to enter South Africa’s food systems

ACB warns that the South African government has received an application for the commodity clearance (import for food, feed and processing) of ‘triple-stacked variety of genetically modified (GM) soya – MON 87708 X MON 89788 X A5547-127 by Monsanto South Africa (Pty) Ltd in October 2017.

This GM Soybean variety represent has been genetically engineered to withstand applications of a cocktail of 3 toxic herbicides: glyphosate, glufosinate and dicamba. South Africa will be among the first countries to approve this GM variety after Mexico and South Korea.

Although the ACB has objected to the application, the permissive South African regulatory system is bound to approve it. In this event, South Africans will be exposed to even more toxic cocktail of chemicals –adding to that already present in the country’s feed and food systems and raising safety concerns and risks that are yet to be established

Such a situation is unacceptable, untenable and should no longer continue. Urgent transformation of South Africa’s food systems is required to those that are socially just and ecologically sustainable.

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ACB’s Objection to Monsanto’s Application for Commodity Clearance of MON 87708 × MON 89788 × A5547-127 Triple-Stacked Herbicide Tolerant Soybean

ACB is objecting to the commodity clearance of the triple-stacked GM soybean event MON 87708 x MON 89788 x A5547-127, due to concerns surrounding the lack of safety assessment data for this crop and the known toxicity of the three pesticides it is designed to tolerate.

Its tolerance to three pesticides, glyphosate, glufosinate and dicamba will only increase the exposure of South African citizens to ever increasing amounts of chemicals in their food systems, while South African regulators are yet to fully establish legal limits for these chemical on our crops.

Under these circumstances, we urge the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to decline approval until these safety uncertainties have been adequately addressed.

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Comments on the Competition Amendment Bill 2017

ACB has responded to the Economic Development Department (EDD) call for comments on the Competition Amendment Bill 2017. The amendments aim to strengthen the powers of the competition authorities to proactively investigate and develop remedies to deconcentrate markets. Although we do not agree with EDD’s entire approach to concentration (for example, that concentration and economies of scale can have public interest benefits in the long term), we do agree that excessive concentration and racially-skewed ownership characterise the South African economy, and that it is a political imperative to redress these imbalances. Overall ACB supports the amendments and will work to ensure their implementation in practice.

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Celebrating smallholder farmers and seed diversity in South Africa: Report from the national seed dialogue and celebration

January 2018

On 8 and 9 December 2017 the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) hosted a national seed dialogue and celebration at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg. Farmer representatives from eight provinces, along with civil society organisations, academics, and officials from the Agricultural Research Council and Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) participated in cultural events and dialogues on current and emerging issues on smallholder farmers and seed diversity in South Africa.

A discussion on the political context highlighted the instability of the globalised corporate food system, and the possibilities and challenges for alternatives based on different systems of production and distribution to take root in material reality. A dialogue on current revisions to South Africa’s Plant Breeders’ Rights Act and Plant Improvement Act raised concerns about the exclusive commercial focus of the Acts and the marginalising impact they have on farmer seed systems and on agricultural biodiversity. In 2017 civil society and farmer associations raised their voices in public hearings and submissions. DAFF acknowledged the importance of popular participation and of agricultural biodiversity yet appears to be locked in an approach shaped by the interests of multinational corporations. Civil society has more work to do in 2018 to advocate

Green Innovation Centre in Zambia: Fighting Hunger through Corporate Supply Chains?

January 2018

The study “Green Innovation Centre in Zambia: Fighting Hunger through Corporate Supply Chains?” is a joint publication by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung and African Centre for Biodiversity. It discusses the Green Innovation Centre (GIC) project of the German government, its approach and its impact. The development concept behind the GIC is farming as a business, focusing on integrating smallholder farmers into commercial value chains. GIZ, the German development agency coordinates the project in Zambia. The GIC’s main interventions in Zambia are on groundnut and soya in the Eastern Province in partnership with COMACO on smallholder integration into value chains and Good Nature Agro on improved seed, and on smallholder integration in the dairy sector in Southern Province with SNV, a Dutch NGO.

GIC is one of a number of Green Revolution interventions in Zambia. It combines a fairly standard Green Revolution approach with the adoption of some agronomic practices (such as use of fertiliser trees, conservation agriculture and production of legume seed that can be reused) that recognise the importance of ecological approaches. However, the interventions remain closely allied with corporations and their private interests. Interventions are made in sectors and regions where a few transnational corporations dominate the

Art, Seed Sovereignty and Activism: Weaving New Stories

January 2018 
By Claire Rousell

Preparing for the National Seed Dialogue and Celebration, hosted by the African Centre for Biodiversity, smallholder farmers, activists and government officials are crowded into the atrium of the Women’s Jail at Constitution Hill and a drum is beating. A performer, Simo Mpapa Majola, dressed in blankets, is praying and singing and imploring the audience. He is telling the story of the women who work on a farm, who have been marginalised over and over, and yet are relentless in their search for “She-sus”, the She-God, and unswerving in their connection to the soil.

Around the edges of the atrium are tables adorned with bowls and jars, hand-crafted wooden trays and woven baskets of seeds, resplendent in their diversity of colours, shapes and textures. Farmers and activists have brought the seeds from across the country to show the art of the soil – its wild excess that is still available to us – despite its depletion due to the demands of global capitalist supply chains that have destroyed agricultural biodiversity. The displays of seeds are arranged on beautiful shweshwe table cloths, interspersed with traditional tools for the preparation and serving of food: a woven beer filter,

Status report on the SADC, COMESA and EAC harmonised seed trade regulations: Where does this leave the regions’ smallholder farmers?

This paper, The Status Report on the SADC, COMESA and EAC harmonised seed trade regulations: Where does this leave the regions’ smallholder farmers?, researched and written by Linzi Lewis and Sabrina Masinjila of the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), provides a brief background and status update on efforts by regional economic communities to harmonise seed trade and marketing policy and legislation in East and Southern Africa. This paper focuses on the Technical Agreements on Harmonisation of Seed Regulations of the Southern African Development Community (SADC, 2008), the Seed Trade Harmonisation Regulations of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA, 2014), and the regional seed harmonisation programme of the East African Community (EAC).

The skewed nature of these harmonisation efforts, which focus solely on the formal seed sector, has continued to neglect and obstruct participation by African civil society groups in the development of such regulations. This has prevented meaningful involvement by civil society and smallholder farmers in decision-making processes on issues that directly affect their livelihoods, seed and food systems.

This paper offers a critique of these frameworks which firmly embed green revolution approaches in Africa, favoring large scale agribusiness as the solution to seed insecurity in

Harmonised corporate seed laws in Africa: Where does this leave smallholder farmers?

By Linzi Lewis and Sabrina Masinjila*
December 2017

The expansion of the corporate seed market, embedded in the green revolution agenda in sub-Saharan Africa is progressing very fast. This expansion is going hand in hand with regional policies and regulations – in a process also known as seed harmonisation – that will enable facilitate trade across national borders. This has been the case in Southern and Eastern Africa in the last two and a half decades within three overlapping regions-SADC, COMESA and the EAC. These harmonised seed regulations focus solely on the formal seed sector, both neglecting and prohibiting the historical and current role played by farmer-managed seed systems, which indisputably provide the majority of seed used in food production across the continent. The harmonisation efforts attempt to shortcircuit lengthy and costly variety testing and release processes that take place at the national level. Proponents of the seed regulations argue that this will facilitate greater availability of seed and will increase smallholder farmers’ access to improved seed.

It is questionable though,  whether the formal seed systems which favour large-scale seed corporations will be able to meet African farmers’ requirement on access to good quality seed in sufficient time.