African Countries

African Countries

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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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

WEMA Project shrouded in secrecy: open letter to African governments to be accountable to farmers, civil society

Sign our Open Letter

 

The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project promises to develop drought tolerance in maize for the benefit of small holder farmers, but is really a project designed to facilitate the spread of hybrid and genetically modified (GM) maize varieties on the continent.
WEMA involves five African countries: Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. It works through the National Agricultural Research (NAR) agencies of these countries, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT)
and Monsanto. The project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Secrecy
There is a great deal of secrecy that surrounds the WEMA project. The AATF (the so-called ‘not for profit’ organisation that coordinates WEMA) exercises extremely tight control over any information related to WEMA and has prevented researchers from speaking to WEMA partners, including the NARs. Information relating to performance and quality control is notably absent from the WEMA website. The NARs are public research institutions and are accountable to the public, especially in regard to the use of public goods under their control, such as germplasm, institutional resources and capacities. They are under constitutional and

Call to action: make your submissions to oppose corporate seed Bills and save our seeds

Photo credit: Claire Rousell

The Plant Breeders’ Rights and Plant Improvement 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.

We urgently need to protect and preserve our food and seed sovereignty. It is in our best interests that we make our voices heard and retain what really is ours, which is the right to our food, the quality and control of our seed.

We have produced this email template to create the opportunity for you to express yourself directly to the relevant authorities. The submission template will appear in an email addressed to the relevant officials in your province. Feel free to change the template to express your own views and add your own comments before sending. Your submission will have a much stronger political effect if you add your own comments.

This is an opportunity to stand for what you believe in!

To support our call please:

Click on send mail for your province, and this will automatically send an email to authorities in the province, but please

Food Systems of the Future Public Talk

The ACB in partnership with Wits Inala Forum had the honour of hosting Mr Pat Mooney, Ms Donna Andrews, Mr John Nzira and Mr Stephen Greenberg at a public talk at Wits University on the 12th of May 2017, in the light of the three mega mergers taking place. The title of the talk was “Food Systems of the Future: mega mergers, big data, synthetic biology and food sovereignty. “Here are four short videos of the public talks:

Pat Mooney
John Nzira + Donna Andrews

Stephen Greenberg

Group Discussion

Group Discussion continued.

South Africa and 2,4 D stacked GM maize: biosafety, socio-economic risks

In 2015–2016 Dow AgroSciences Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd performed field trials on maize tolerant to 2,4-D (event DAS-87078-9) and stacked varieties carrying not only 2,4-D tolerance, but also glyphosate tolerance and/or Bt insectidal toxins. The trials are on going in 2017. The trials follow the approval for import for food, feed and processing in 2012, despite the crop not having been approved anywhere in the world for cultivation and public outcry in SA.

This paper reports on the global failings of GM crops to date to do their stated job: to control weeds and pests, reduce environmental burden of toxic pesticides and improve farmer costs.

In 2015–2016 Dow AgroSciences Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd performed field trials on maize tolerant to 2,4-D (event DAS-87078-9) and stacked varieties carrying not only 2,4-D tolerance, but also glyphosate tolerance and/or Bt insectidal toxins. The trials are on going in 2017. The trials follow the approval for import for food, feed and processing in 2012, despite the crop not having been approved anywhere in the world for cultivation and public outcry in SA.

This paper reports on the global failings of GM crops to date to do their stated job: to control weeds and pests,

South Africa’s Competition Commission gives conditional approval for Bayer-Monsanto merger

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.

The deal requires approval from about 30 regulatory agencies around the world. The Competition Commission of South Africa (CCSA) was the first to be officially notified of this global transaction on 1 February 2017, and conditionally approved the transaction on 3 May 2017 and made it public on the 8th May 2017. Other competition authorities elsewhere have been or will be notified.

Both Bayer and Monsanto are major global manufacturers of agrochemicals and seeds, including genetically modified (GM) seed. The merged entity will be the world’s largest supplier by sales of both seeds and pesticides, controlling up to 30 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 ACB made submissions to the Competition Commission of South Africa (CCSA) urging it 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

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