GMOs

GMOs

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

The GMO crisis in Swaziland

The GMO crisis in Swaziland

By Tsakasile Dlamini
Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (Pelum) Swaziland Country Coordinator
October 2017
Swaziland is under enormous pressure to introduce genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the country’s farming system. This pressure is coming not only from Monsanto but also from farmers and some sections of the public who have been fed a great deal of misinformation and hype by the pro-biotech machinery. The farmers, acting on incomplete and often unsubstantiated information, are pushing for the adoption of genetically modified (GM) cotton, in the hope that it will give them greater yields, while reducing the costs of production.

Currently, according to Swaziland’s legislation, to import GM products or live GMOs (seeds) one needs to apply for a permit; a lengthy process that requires evidence that the GMO in question is safe. However, it is an open secret that farmers are bringing GM cotton and maize seed into the country illegally from South Africa because they have been informed that GM-based farming is more cost effective. It is unfortunate that a majority of our cotton farmers are told disingenuously about the “great yields and benefits” of GM cotton and not about the dangers associated with this technology. There is a serious

Seed sovereignty for Peasant Farmers in Malawi blocked by emerging national seed policy

By Bright Thamie Phiri

September 2017
The government of Malawi is poised to adopt a draconian National Seed Policy that blocks peasant farmers’ opportunities to secure and strengthen farmer-managed seed systems (FMSS), and which would undermine farmers’ rights and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, to which Malawi is a Party.
An ad hoc stakeholder policy dialogue on the draft National Seed Policy held at the Ministry of Agriculture headquarters in Lilongwe (Malawi) on 07 September 2017 marginalised the voices of farmers and civil society at large. It dismissed out of hand concerns that have been made via various submissions and petitions. Civil society raised the following three key aspects: the omission of FMSS from the National Seed Policy framework, including the narrow scope of the definition of seed so as to exclude farmers’ varieties; the implications of aligning seed policy with harmonised regional seed trade regulatory systems under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA); and lack of recognition and protection of farmers’ rights.
The meeting advanced provisions in the policy framework that require standardisation and certification of seed varieties by mandating

MVIWATA and ACB Opposing Application for Field trials of Stacked GM Maize MON 87460 X MON 810

Monsanto_WEMA_Experimental_Plot_Ilonga_ARI

The Tanzania National Farmers Network Organisation, Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Tanzania (MVIWATA) and the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) are objecting to an application submitted by the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) for confined field trials of Monsanto’s stacked GM maize MON 87460 X MON 810 (GM drought tolerant stacked with throw-away and ineffective insect resistant technology).

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Seed capture in South Africa: A threat to seed freedom but the seed movement is fighting back

Simangele Siko, a member of the central committee at Izindaba Zokudla, in her thanks to ACB after the workshop said, “The farmers have got power, immense power, but you have just unearthed the power!”
By Claire Rousell
25 August 2017

Who can claim to own a seed? In these kernels lie the genetic wisdom of millions of years, co-created within specific environments by millions of organisms, including humans. Seeds also contain the future: the potential for life, nourishment and pleasure for generations to come.

Taking on different forms around the world, the Seed Movement has been gathering momentum for the last 20 years or more, through the work of devoted seed-keepers tending to their precious collections and dedicated activist networks collectively working to defend seed sovereignty and resist corporate capture of seeds. The energy around the Seed Movement has been amped up in the last few years in response to a number of governments in Africa – including Ghana and Tanzania – that are pushing to pass laws that criminalise the saving and exchange of seed, as well as aiming to have increased control over the harvests of seed that are protected by plant breeders’ rights.
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