In South Africa

In South Africa

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.
For the last two

Regulatory Implications of New Breeding Techniques

This paper presents an evidence-based critique of the Report published by the Academy of Science South Africa (ASSAf) titled ‘Regulatory Implications of New Breeding Techniques’ (the Report). Our critique discusses the pro-GM propaganda contained in the Report and contrasts it with a well-established scientific body of concerns surrounding the use of these so-called new breeding techniques (NBTs), and their potential to exacerbate further the deepening ecological and social crises in South Africa.

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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.

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Agroecology versus Industrial Agriculture

These graphics, captured in an easy to read and visually informative manner, illustrate the stark difference of practices and values between the current industrial food system and agroecological food systems.

It is clear that the industrial model is unsustainable, lacks nutrition, destroys livelihoods, and is an unsuitable model as we move into an increasingly uncertain future.

We need radical reforms in agriculture and food systems, which are ecologically and socially just, and ensure safe, healthy, and nutritional food for current and future generations.

Afrikaans | English | isi-Xhosa | isi-Zulu | Sesotho

Transitioning out of GM maize: Current drought is an opportunity for a more resilient and just food system

Coinciding with World Food Day, the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), in a new report titled “Transitioning out of GM maize: towards nutrition security, climate adaptation, agro-ecology and social justice” makes a compelling case for South Africa to urgently transition out of GM maize production, to systems that are socially just, ecologically sustainable and provide nutrition security for a rapidly urbanising population in the face of the current crippling drought. It argues that we need to urgently shift away from the mono-focus on a maize towards embracing a diversity of crops – particularly indigenous African summer grain crops such as sorghum and millet – and diverse agricultural practices that support healthy ecosystems, economies and societies.

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APPEAL AGAINST MONSANTO’S BOGUS GM DROUGHT TOLERANT MAIZE HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR URGENT AGRICULTURE TRANSITION

17th December 2015

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South Africa is in the grip of the worst drought since 1992, with many parts of the country experiencing record temperatures and little to no rain. The maize and transport industries are currently planning for a worst-case scenario, where the continent’s largest maize producer – South Africa – may potentially need to import 4 million metric tons of maize due to the prolonged drought. It is against this backdrop that the South African government has granted approval to Monsanto for it to market its wholly inadequate and over-hyped ‘climate smart’ solution to drought– genetically modified (GM) drought tolerant maize, also known as ‘MON87460.’ The controversial maize was developed under the auspices of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) funded project called Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), currently operating in five African countries and aimed at ‘benefitting’ smallholder farmers.

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has consistently opposed MON87460 as unproven, unsafe and inappropriate for resource-poor smallholders. The organisation has formally appealed against its approval for commercial cultivation in South Africa. The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Senzeni Zokwana, has advised the ACB on the 15th December 2015 that he has established an Appeal Board to

ACB to battle SA Govt., Monsanto over controversial GM ‘drought tolerant’ maize

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has on 7th August 2015, lodged an appeal to Agriculture, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Senzeni Zokwana, against the general release approval of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) maize, MON87460 granted by the Executive Council (EC): GMO Act. Such approval means that Monsanto can sell the GM maize seed, MON87460, to farmers in South Africa for cultivation.
MON87460 is alleged to be ‘drought tolerant;’ a claim the ACB vehemently disputes.
Administrative justice, procedural fairness and sound science to the test
The appeal is a test for administrative justice and procedural fairness in regard to GM decision-making in South Africa. Administrative decision-making must be based on rigorous food safety, environmental and socio-economic assessments of the potential adverse effects of MON87460, taking into international biosafety best practice.
According to the ACB, the EC’s approval is typical of GM decision-making, which simply reiterates and summarises information provided by Monsanto, who has a clear vested interest in the approval.  Such “rubber stamping” is unlawful. The EC is under a legal obligation to apply a risk averse and cautious approach, which takes into account uncertainties and the limits of current knowledge about the consequences of approving MON87460 for commercial

What next after a ban on glyphosate – more toxic chemicals and GM crops?

What next after a ban on glyphosate - more toxic chemicals and GM crops?

This briefing calls for a ban on glyphosate and that other toxic herbicides, such as 2,4D and dicamba must similarly also come under urgent review and that adequate measures must be put in place to ensure that more toxic chemicals do not replace glyphosate.

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