In Africa

In Africa

New Green Revolution for Africa: Trojan Horse for GMOs

After more than 10 years of genetically modified (GM) crop plants being grown in the world, only South Africa out of 53 countries on the African continent have commercial plantings of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). 9 countries, Burkina Faso; Egypt; Kenya; Morocco; Senegal; South Africa; Tanzania; Zambia; Zimbabwe have reported field trials of GMOs, while Uganda recently announced that field trials involving GM sweet
bananas would commence during May 2007. 1 20 African countries (Benin; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Egypt; Ghana; Kenya; Malawi; Mali; Mauritius; Morocco; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; South Africa; Tanzania; Tunisia; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe) are engaged in GMO research and development. At least 24 countries (Algeria; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Egypt; Ethiopia; Ghana; Kenya; Madagascar; Malawi; Mali; Mauritius; Morocco; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; South Africa; Tanzania; Tunisia; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe) have the capacity and institutions to conduct research and development into agricultural biotechnology.

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Kenya – GMO Legislation

Draft_GMO_Bill_Kenya.pdf A Bill For An Act Of Parliament To Regulate Biotechnology And Biosafety Matters And For Connected Purposes.
Sep 2003

The ACB has been requested by a network of NGOs and other civil society groups in Kenya, to analyse and critically comment on the latest draft of the Kenyan Biosafety Bill (“the Bill”).

1. In general, the Bill does not in its present form represent an adequate, robust and comprehensive biosafety regime designed to protect the environment, human health and biodiversity from the risks posed by GMOs and its related activities. It is foremost, a piece of draft legislation that seeks to put in place, a mere permitting system designed to approve applications for the contained use; import; export, placing on the market and release into the environment of GMOs. The underlying imperative of the Bill is the promotion of genetic engineering and not biosafety.

2. The Bill has partially, selectively and numerous instances, erroneously (intentionally?) attempted to implement the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Biosafety Protocol) in order to weaken its implementation. Critically important provisions of the Biosafety Protocol that form the cornerstones of biosafety regulation have been omitted from the Bill in its entirely. These include the Precautionary

Lesotho – GMO Legislation


Evidently influenced by the UNEP-GEF Biosafety Project, the Biosafety Bill has been drafted principally to implement the Biosafety Protocol verbatim, and in so doing, perpetuates some of the weaknesses and deficiencies of the Biosafety Protocol. For instance, the scope of the Biosafety Bill is predicated on the scope of the Biosafety Protocol where the risks to human health are not central to the biosafety enquiry, but are ancillary to the protection of biological diversity in the use of the terms “taking also into account risks to human health.” (Section 2(1) of the Biosafety Bill; Article 4 of the Biosafety Protocol). The Biosafety Bill also excludes as does the Biosafety Protocol, the transboundary movement of GMOs that are pharmaceuticals for humans that are addressed by relevant international agreements and organisations.

In fact the entire Biosafety Bill is littered with examples of the extent to which the sole imperative underpinning the drafting of the Bill appears to be to implement the basic minimum standards of the Biosafety Protocol. This is dealt with in more detail below, but a striking further example to this effect, is the way in which the documentation to accompany bulk shipments of GMOs has been dealt

Malawi – GMO Legislation


The government of Malawi published its biosafety draft regulations in The Malawi Gazette Supplement on the 13th September 2002 (“biosafety law”) at the height of the GM food aid controversy when several countries in Southern Africa imposed restrictions on the acceptance of genetically modified food aid from the United States. Malawi accepted the GM food aid, with few restrictions being imposed. At the time of writing, the writer obtained conflicting information as to whether the draft law had been promulgated. However, the writer was able to ascertain that the biosafety law, represents the current biosafety framework.

Malawi is not yet a Party to the United Nation’s Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (“Biosafety Protocol“), nor is it amongst the 123 developing countries participating in the UNEP-GEF Biosafety Capacity Building project. It was however, one of 7 “core target” countries in Southern Africa that participated in a USAID funded biosafety capacity building project, the Southern Africa Regional Biotechnology Program (SARB)”.

SARB is a sub-project of a larger United States Assistance for International Development (USAID) project, managed by the Michigan State University, Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program (ABSP). ABSP’s private sector partners include, Asgrow, Monsanto Co. Garst See Company

Mauritius – GMO Legislation

The Mauritian Paradox
Selva Appasawmy, April 2004

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Mauritius has introduced legislation to regulate genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and its associated activities. This legislation perhaps represents the most stringent precautionary regulations yet on the African continent. As a Party to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Biosafety Protocol), the Mauritian government can also be said to have put in place, through this legislation, stricter measures than the minimum standards established by the Biosafety Protocol. At the same time, the Mauritian government is strongly committed to becoming a GE centre of excellence – a GE hub and plant nursery for the African region. It is in the throes of establishing the Mauritius Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (MABI) to provide impetus and complement the GE research currently underway by the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute (MSIRI), the Food and Agriculture (FARC) and the University of Mauritius. But still, is this sufficient reason not to congratulate the Mauritian government for having taken such bold steps in putting in place a seemingly stringent biosafety regime? It must be specifically noted that the entire process of drafting this unique ‘stringent’ law took place out of the public’s eye: in secret.

Meaningful public

Swaziland – GMO Legislation


We have been approached by civil society groups in Swaziland to provide comments on the Draft National Policy Document, “Creating an enabling environment for the safe use of biotechnology and its products in Swaziland” and the Biosafety Bill, 2005.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)/World Food Programme (WFP) crop and food supply assessment mission to Swaziland, 20051, the country is gripped by yet another food crisis. They estimate the cereal import requirement for 2005/06 marketing year (March/April) to be 110 600 tonnes, of which 69 700 tonnes are expected to be commercially imported from South Africa, its main trading partner and producer and importer of genetically modified (GM) maize, Soybean and cotton. By March/April 2005, approximately 6 200 tonnes of food aid was on hand and in the pipeline, but a deficit of 34 700 tonnes remains to be provided by additional donor assistance.

Swaziland is a net food importing country. Maize is virtually the sole staple for the majority of the population and is the dominant crop grown by the majority of rural households in the communal Swazi Nation Land (SNL), which accounts for about 86% of the land area planted.

Tanzania – GMO Legislation


According to the Minister of State in the Vice President’s office-Environment, the Honourable Mr Ntagazwa, the Biosafety Guidelines are meant to “facilitate the importation and use of GMOs and their products in Tanzania“. Indeed, the Guidelines, which pay a great deal of attention to scientific details, establish a non-legally binding, voluntary framework for the introduction of GMOs into Tanzania. This framework is meant to compliment and mutually support national policies and legislation. The Guidelines also appear to be of a temporary nature in that one of its primary objectives is to “encourage and assist the establishment of an appropriate national regulatory framework”. It is unknown why the Tanzanian government has not chosen to draft legally binding regulations instead of opting for non-binding guidelines.

The Guidelines are made up of 105 pages, comprising of a bundle of measures: non-binding “regulatory” type measures that typify a permitting system for GMOs; extensive measures under the heading “Risk Management” dealing with different types of “containment procedures”; and ten annexes. The document is thus not only voluminous but may be quite intimidating to farmers and ordinary citizens in need of information.

It is beyond the

Uganda – GMO Legislation



During 2001, Uganda embarked on a national agricultural biotechnology programme focusing on the several transformative biotechnology innovations, and genetic engineering (GE). This programme is linked to Uganda?s policy to eradicate poverty by 2015, described in its Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP). PEAP is Uganda?s overarching macro-economic framework, designed to transform Uganda into a modern economy. PEAP has been developed within the context already established by structural adjustment policies put in place in Uganda since 1987, which has led inter alia, to the liberalisation of the seed production and supply sector. The opening of the seed industry has resulted in the influx of foreign seed companies that supply hybrid seed to farmers.

PEAP sets out two groups of actions, which it sees as directly increasing the ability of the poor to raise their incomes and improve their quality of life: (1) the radical transformation of rural communities from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture; and (2) a Plan for the modernization of Agriculture (PAM). The uptake of GE is an integral part of PAM.?

During 2003, the National Council for Science and Technology developed a National Policy on Biotechnology and Biosafety (PBB) wherein it describes a