GM-Labeling-zebraThe Biotech industry continues to stall the implementation of a GMO labelling regime, claiming that only a “lunatic fringe” or a “European funded lobby” want it, despite government’s clear intentions in the Consumer Protection Act to grant the consumer’s right to know and to choose. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has re-opened the public comment period for submissions on the amended GMO labelling regulations until 15 August 2014. Submissions can be made to JSekgobela@thedti.gov.za
Peddling for Profits: Pioneer Hi-Bred’s redundant rootworm-resistant GM maize coming soon to South Africa
In this briefing, we show how SA?s biosafety regulatory system favours profits over sound biosafety practise as the regulators have authorised field trials of a GM maize variety to combat a pest, the corn root worm that does not exist in SA at all and will not, for 100 years!!
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has today brought into sharp focus the white bread industry in South Africa with the release of its new report “GM Contamination, Cartels and Collusion in South Africa’s Bread Industry.’ The report shows that the white bread tested contains high levels of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) soya in the soya flour used in the bread and that most companies are unashamedly flouting GM labelling laws and undermining the consumer’s right to know. The nation consumes about 2.8 billion loaves of bread a year, handing over more than R28 billion of their hard-earned cash to a cartel comprising Tiger Brands, Premier Foods, Pioneer Foods and Foodcorp, that controls the wheat-to-bread value chain. Roughly a quarter of South Africans live below the bread line and price fluctuations in bread – our second most important staple food after maize – has hit the poor the hardest.
Executive Director of the ACB, Mariam Mayet commented, “A small number of unscrupulous cartels control and benefit from the value chains of our staple foods, maize and bread. They have been repeatedly sanctioned for anti-competitive behaviour, have been complicit in saturating our staple food with risky GM ingredients and
This briefing paper exposes the high levels of GM soya in South Africa’s popular white bread brands and reveals how just four companies – Tiger Brands, Pioneer Foods, Premier Foods and Foodcorp control the Wheat-to-Bread value chain. This value chain feeds into another concentrated retail food market controlled by Shoprite/Checkers, Pick n Pay, Woolworths and Spar. With this report the ACB has now highlighted that South Africa’s top two staples – Maize and Bread – are both controlled by the same cartel.
This submission by Monsanto makes a joke of biosafety risk assessment in that it is not based on the actual event under consideration, but rather, the applicant posits claim of lack of harm, toxicity, and allergenicity based on data carried out on other lines containing the same transgene/event. This violates the case by case approach to GMO risk assessment enshrined in the GMO Act 1997. It also lacks sufficient scientific data to support claims of safety and this is exacerbated by lack of peer reviewed information on this event. In addition, the applicant has not considered the health impacts of the herbicide to which this event is engineered to tolerate. Furthermore, approval of this commodity import is likely to significantly impact upon commercial and emerging maize producers, and could have further impacts along the value chain. There are other issues affecting animal feed producers and consumers (the continuation of cheap chicken imports from the EU, for example), the resolution of which would do more to strengthen South Africa?s agricultural sector. It is the opinion of the ACB that this application should be rejected on both biosafety and socio-economic grounds.
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has today released its new research report titled ‘GM Maize: Lessons For Africa-Cartels, Collusion And Control Of South Africa’s Staple Food’ showing how a select group of companies, including Tiger Brands, Pioneer and Premier Foods who have previously fixed the price of bread and maize meal, commandeer the entire maize value chain and continue to squeeze the poorest South Africans. The ACB has recently shown that the entire maize meal market is saturated with GM maize.
The report shows that the South African government, through the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is the largest investor in Tiger Brands, and that over 50% of the company’s shares are held outside South Africa. Pioneer Foods’ largest shareholder is Zeder, the agribusiness investment arm of PSG Konsult Group, a private financial services company. Premier Foods is 80% owned by private equity firm Braite, listed on the Euro MTF market in Luxemburg but domiciled in Malta, both jurisdictions being notorious tax havens. ‘These ownership patterns have increased the distance between food producers and consumers, and are lucrative avenues for capital accumulation by actors far removed from these firms’ locales.’ Said Mariam Mayet, Director
This is a briefing about power and control in our food system, focusing chiefly on South Africa’s staple food, maize. It shows how a select group of companies, including Tiger Brands, Pioneer and Premier Foods commandeer the entire maize value chain and continue to squeeze the poorest South Africans. These corporate giants are now glancing covetously to the vast African market north of the Limpopo. Experiences from South Africa should serve as stark warnings.
Today the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) released a new report ?Africa bullied to grow defective Bt Maize: the failure of Monsanto?s MON810 maize in South Africa?i, showing how Monsanto?s GM maize, which utterly failed in SA, is now being foisted on the rest of the continent, through ?sleight of hand?.
Independent scientists have shown that Monsanto?s GM maize variety, MON810 ? which has been growing in SA for 15 years ? has completely failed due to the development of massive insect resistance, leading to the GM maize being withdrawn from the SA market. Monsanto has compensated farmers who were forced to spray their crops with pesticides to control the pests, calling into serious question the very rationale for GM crops.
According to the Director of the ACB, Mariam Mayet, ?Monsanto got the science completely wrong on this one. Independent biosafety scientists have discovered that the inheritance of resistance in African stem borers is a dominant, not recessive, trait as erroneously assumed. Hence the insect resistance management strategies that Monsanto developed, and accepted by our regulators, based on these erroneous assumptions, were utterly ineffective.?
Undeterred, Monsanto is now pushing its flop GM maize onto the rest of the continent. According
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has released a new report ‘Africa bullied to grow defective Bt Maize: the failure of Monsanto’s MON810 maize in South Africa,’ showing how Monsanto’s GM maize which utterly failed in SA, is now being foisted on the rest of the continent, through ‘sleight of hand.’
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