In Africa

In Africa

Soya – Gates Foundation & Cargill Paper

The SOYA MODEL implies a war against the population, the emptying of the countryside,
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.
Javiera Ruli in United Soya Republics. The Truth about Soya Production in Latin America
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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a new project to develop the soya value chain in Africa in partnership with American NGO, TechnoServe and agricultural commodity trading giant Cargill. The US$8 million project will be implemented as a four year pilot in Mozambique and Zambia with the intention of spreading the model to other regions in the future.

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

GM Sorghum: Africa’s Golden Rice

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.

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Comments on COMESA’s Draft Policy on GMOs

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

Africa – The new frontier for the GE industry

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.

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GM Cassava update from the African Centre for Biosafety

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

Africa’s Green Revolution Drought Tolerant Maize Scam

Prediction of exacerbated drought in Africa due to climate change is apparently the driving force behind the establishment of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) initiative, another prong of the so-called ?New Green Revolution for Africa?. WEMA seeks to develop drought tolerant maize varieties through a program which is being presented as a panacea for solving issues of hunger on the continent using marker assisted breeding and genetic engineering. That this is being done under the guise of philanthropy sidesteps questions about the real causes of hunger, disregards issues of imbalanced global distribution of food and underplays the financial benefits to be derived by the various proponents of the scheme. The possible risks to small-scale farmers, whom WEMA targets, include loss of biodiversity through gene flow, a dependence on expensive inputs into farming, possible exposure to intellectual and property rights claims and impacts on their food security. The most effective ways of supporting small-scale farmers is through agro-ecological approaches to farming. These focus on small-scale sustainable agriculture; locally adapted seed and ecological farming that better addresses the complexities of climate change, hunger, poverty and productive demands on agriculture in the developing world.

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On- going Concerns about Harmonisation of Biosafety Regulations in Africa

The paper is a response to concerns raised by the African Union‘s Biosasfety Unit about assertions made in an earlier briefing in June 2009 regarding the African Union‘s biosafety harmonisation processes.

In this briefing the Ms Swanby on behalf of the ACB salutes the initiatives taken by the AU in the biosafety discourse on the continent to date, including the early harmonisation attempts by its predecessor, the Organisation of African Union (OAU) to put in place a Model Law on Safety in Biotechnology. At that time, the OAU’s harmonisation approach was to bring about a consistent African approach to biosafety regulation based strongly on the precautionary principle.

However, this briefing continues to warn of the dangers lurking in the AU’s Biosafety Stategy with regard to proposed biosafety harmonisation processes that involve several players that cause us great concern. These players include: Regional Economic Communities (RECs), who have a decidedly pro trade and pro GM agenda and whose biosafety initiatives have to date been funded by USAID. The briefing points out that the harmonisation approach favoured by USAID is one that creates a one stop GMO approval system, and thereby side stepping a country-by-country, case-by-case risk assessment and

Response from the AU Commission Biosafety Unit to Briefing no. 9

The Revised African Model Law on Biosafety and the African Biosafety Strategy“. 15 July 2009. In July 2009 The African Union Biosafety Unit communicated their concerns about the ACB‘s briefing no.9, their letter can be viewed here.

The original briefing can be viewed at here.

The ACB‘s response is titled On-going concerns about harmonisation of biosafety regulations in Africa, November 2009.

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Patents, Climate Change and African Agriculture: Dire Predictions

Uncertainty and apprehension often afford opportunity to the cunning. This is certainly the case with climate change. The multinational seed and agrochemical industry see climate change as a means by which to further penetrate African agricultural markets by rhetorically positioning itself, even if implausibly, as having the solution to widespread climate concerns. Their so-called ?final solution? to deal with the impact of climate change on African agriculture depends on mass adoption of GM seeds and chemically intensive agricultural practices. This model poses serious biosafety risks and demands the surrender of Africa‘s food sovereignty to foreign corporations and the widespread acceptance of patents on life in Africa.

Despite its obvious pitfalls, this model is being aggressively promoted by multinationals, private philanthropy and some African national agricultural research programmes, often funded by the first two. The money and public relations forces backing the seed giants threaten to drown out other voices and other possibilities for African agriculture.

In this briefing, we expose the forces behind ?climate ready? crops, including the central role played by gene giant Monsanto and provide data on patents on climate genes in respect to key African staple and other food crops.

September 2009

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Comments on Nigeria’s Draft Biosafety Bill

An Act to Provide for the Management of Biosafety and other related matters, 2007
By Mariam Mayet
July 2009

Environmental Rights Action (ERA) (Friends of the Earth, Nigeria) has approached the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) to provide them with our comments on the latest draft of their country’s biosafety bill. The ACB has in the past, provided formal and informal advice on various drafts of Nigeria’s Biosafety Bill. ERA has been actively engaged in the anti-GM struggle in Nigeria and several parts of Africa and has done a great deal of advocacy and lobby work on biosafety issues. These comments are a small contribution to the exemplary work of ERA.

Key Findings

Nigeria’s Biosafety Bill is unique and embodies a great deal of originality and authenticity, sorely missing in other African Biosafety laws. It does appear to have travelled a truly Nigerian journey and does not exhibit the traits of US interference found in other Biosafety Bills we have worked on earlier this year.

The Bill is extremely fond of creating institutions and ?over-regulation by institutions?- so that a great many responsibilities, biosafety over-sight and monitoring functions are carried out by a range of players. The