In this report, the ACB interrogates the Gates Foundation and Monsanto?s Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project and exposes it to be nothing more than corporate ?green washing,? designed to ensnare small holder farmers into adopting hybrid and GM maize in order to benefit seed and agro-chemical companies.
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa is alarmed at the approval during September 2013, by the Council of Ministers of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) of the COMESA ?Draft Policy Statements and Guidelines for commercial planting of GMOs, Trade in GMOs and Emergency Food aid with GMO content.? The COMESA Policy aggressively promotes the wholesale proliferation of GMOs on the African continent by way of commercial plantings, commodity imports and food aid and flouts international biosafety law.
The Policy is intent on creating a clumsy, confusing, cumbersome and prohibitively exorbitant centralised regional decision making system that is utterly at odds with the provisions as set out in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and national biosafety frameworks. All of the COMESA member states have ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Almost all COMESA member states have developed their own National Biosafety Frameworks (NBFs), indicating that decision- making concerning GMOs is to be made at the national level.
Why then the need for this harmonised Policy? If not to by pass international and national biosafety regulations requiring case by case biosafety assessments, because the biotechnology industry, agribusiness, free trade proponents and the food aid industry are
Comments on COMESA’s Draft Policy on Commercial Planting, Trade and Emergency Food Aid Involving Genetically Modified Organisms.
On the 8th and 9th May 2012 COMESA held a meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, to review a draft policy on the regulation and trade of GMOs for the region. While the Biotech Industry was very well represented at the meeting, civil society was completely left out of the process. This policy is being drafted behind closed doors to suit the trade interests of the major sponsor of the Policy – the United States government. Rather than ensure the most effective biosafety procedures for the Region, this policy is crafted to create an enabling environment for the free trade of GMOs with few checks and balances. The policy poses a threat to the national sovereignty of Member States, all but excludes public participation in the decision making process on GMOs and lowers the bar when it comes to risk assessments.
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This paper looks at the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project within the context of the race by massive agribusiness corporations to bring climate change related crops to the market. The first part of the paper explains the WEMA project within this context, outlining the players and the stakes involved. It looks at who stands to benefit from the project and what the African countries involved are asked to sacrifice. The second part of the paper looks at Monsanto‘s strategic positioning within this climate change race and how it intends to use WEMA as leverage to bring its controversial crops to a wider global market, simultaneously opening up key markets in Africa for its GM crops. Finally, we outline our concerns and make recommendations with regard to appropriate agricultural systems in Africa.
and the elimination of our collective memory in order to shoehorn people into towns
and convert them into faithful consumers of whatever the market provides.
The impacts of this model go beyond the borders of the new Soya Republics.
The dehumanisation of agriculture and the depopulation
of rural areas for the benefit of the corporations is
increasing in the North and in the South.
The Gates Foundation continues to back agricultural strategies that open new markets for strong corporate interests while assisting in the creation of policy environments to support foreign agribusiness‘ interests. The programme will yoke African farmers into the soya
In this paper, we critically analyse the African Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) project, a GM ‘poster project’ in Africa. We dig beneath the veneer of the project being an “African led solution” to poverty and malnutrition on the continent. We also focus attention on the myriad of sorghum research initiatives currently underway in Africa, using both genetic engineering techniques and marker assisted selection (MAS). In this regard, we pay special attention to the USAID funded INTSORMIL programme. We also provide a snapshot of the GM sorghum research being conducted elsewhere in the world.
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) was very recently handed a copy of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa‘s (COMESA) ‘Draft policy statements and guidelines for commercial planting of GMOs, Trade in GMOs and Emergency Food aid with GMO content’. Having perused the policy we are alarmed and outraged that COMESA appears to support the undermining and displacing of more than a decade’s worth of international, regional and national biosafety policies and legislation. It is the ACB‘s opinion that a small group of experts closely aligned to the Biotechnology, seed and agrochemical industry, frustrated by the lack of GMO adoption in African markets, drafted the policy behind closed doors. Stakeholders whose interests will be adversely affected by the far reaching proposals within the policy have been completely excluded from the process.
Further, it seeks to usurp the biosafety policy space of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (the pre-eminent international treaty on the cross border movement of GMOs), regional policies on food aid and the sovereign rights of COMESA member states. We implore COMESA members to reject the policy out of hand at their next meeting, scheduled to take place from the 12th
The genetic engineering (GE) industry is facing a shrinking global market as more and more countries adopt biosafety laws and GE labeling regulations. Africa and Asia are the new frontiers for exploitation by the agro-chemical, seed and GE corporations. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) appears to be at the forefront of a US marketing campaign to introduce GE food into the developing world. It has made it clear that it sees its role as having to ‘integrate biotechnology into local food systems and spread the technology through regions in Africa‘. Through USAID, in collaboration with the GE industry and several groups involved in GE research in the developed world, the US government is funding various initiatives aimed at biosafety regulation and decision-making in Africa, which, if successful, may put in place weak biosafety regulation and oversight procedures. USAID is also heavily involved in funding various GE research projects in a bid to take control of African agricultural research.
During 2006, the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) submitted an application to the South African GMO Authority, the Executive Council: GMO Act, for permission to conduct field trials of GM Cassava. The ACB and the international NGO, GRAIN, submitted comprehensive objections to the application on 8 September 2006, widely supported by local and international groups and individuals.
On the 19th of March, 2007, the EC rejected the application and instead, proposed that the trials take place within greenhouses as opposed to the open environment.[i] The main ground for the rejection was the EC’s concern that the ARC had not provided sufficient information to enable an informed risk assessment to take place.
On the 18th April 2007, the ARC submitted an appeal against decision. The ACB was invited by the EC to make submissions in respect thereto, which the ACB duly did, on the 5 October 2007. These submissions are available on the website of the ACB at www.biosafetyafrica.org.za
An appeal board was duly appointed by the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs and the hearing was held 8-9 October 2007. A decision of the board was apparently arrived at and sent to the Minister, during October 2007, for final