Issued by the African Centre for Biosafety and Earthlife Africa
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) and Earthlife Africa Ethekwini (ELA), are calling on the South African government to reject an application by the Institute for Wine Biotechnology (IWB) based at the University of Stellenbosch, to conduct open- air field trials in South Africa, involving genetically modified (GM) Sultana and Chardonnay grapevine varieties.
The groups believe that the risks of contamination of adjacent fertile grapevine varieties by the GM cultivars are unacceptably high, and thereby threaten South Africa‘s lucrative wine export market, especially to the European Union-South Africa’s biggest export destination, where consumers are still reeling from the recent contamination scandal involving illegal GM rice.
The African Centre for Biosafety has independently assessed the Institute for Wine Biotechnology’s scanty risk assessment and discovered that it relies heavily on inconclusive, outdated and abandoned biosafety studies conducted in Germany by the Institute for Vine Breeding (IVB). Indeed, the ACB has found that field trials of GM grapevines had been stopped prematurely by the German Institute, because the varieties, which had been genetically modified to possess resistance against fungal pests, failed hopelessly as they were found to