South Africa’s Wine Industry Threatened By GM Grapevine Trials

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the Institute for Wine Biotechnology’s scanty risk assessment and discovered that it relies heavily on inconclusive, outdated and abandoned biosafety studies conducted in Germany by the Institute for Vine Breeding (IVB).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

Environmental Risk Assessment Framework for Genetically Modified Organisms

October 17th 2006

Submission_ERA_17_Nov_06.pdf Submission to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism on the ‘Environmental Risk Assessment Framework for Genetically Modified Organisms’

read more

Submitted by:
African Centre for Biosafety (ACB)
Contact: Mariam Mayet TEL: +27 11 646 0699, E-mail:

Earthlife Africa eThekwini branch (ELA)
Contact: Vanessa Black TEL: +27 082 472 8844, E-mail:

Groups in Latin America and Africa call for rejection of World Bank GEF biosafety projects

Two World Bank projects, with funding from the GEF (Global Environmental Facility), propose to introduce genetically modified crops such as maize, potatoes, cassava, rice and cotton into African and Latin American countries that are centres of origin or diversity for these and other major food crops. Civil society organisations warn that DNA contamination from genetically modified crops poses an unacceptable risk to staple crops that are the basis of peasant economies in these regions.

read more

Mozambique – GMO Legislation


The proposed biosafety regulatory regime (hereafter referred to as the “draft biosafety law” or “biosafety law”) of the Republic of Mozambique consists of a draft Decree of Council of Ministers, containing the biosafety regulation and 2 draft technical guidelines for risk evaluation as well as public awareness and participation in biosafety and biotechnology related issues.

The biosafety regulation itself consists of a preamble, 27 articles, organised in 9 chapters and 6 annexes, and a glossary of terms.

The draft biosafety law is typically a permitting system, based on a step-bystep, case-by-case risk assessment, evaluation and decision-making that adopt a risk management approach to genetic engineering in food agriculture and medicine. By this we mean that Mozambique views genetic engineering as having a role to play in agriculture, food security and human health care, but that the risks have to be managed by the creation of an enabling legislative environment, to this end. In other words, Mozambique will follow the route taken by South Africa and permit the entry of GMOs into its agriculture systems, after a desk- top evaluation of the risk assessment data provide by an applicant.

Currently, Mozambique’s seed law prohibits the import and planting of GM

South Africa – GMO Act 15

Submission To Chairpersons Of Portfolio Committees Of:
Agriculture And Land Affairs, Environmental Affairs And Tourism, Science And Technology, Health, Trade And Industry, Water Affairs And Forestry, Labour
Mariam Mayet, April 2006

read more

Supported by South African Freeze Alliance on Genetic Engineering, Earthlife Africa, Safe Food Coalition, Ekogaia Foundation, Farmers Legal Action Group-South Africa, Noordhoek Environmental Action Group, Merlin Business Services (Theo Schuurmans), Earth 52 (Harald Witt), Permacore, The Permaculture Foundation of the Western Cape (Noel Marten), Biophile Magazine.

Comments On The Genetically Modified Organsims Amendment Bill (revised Version), 2005
Mariam Mayet, September 2005

read more

A Glimpse Through The Cracks In The Door: South Africa‘s Permitting System For Gmos
Mariam Mayet, January 2005

read more

Submissions On South Africa’s Genetically Modified Organisms Amendment Bill Published 8 October 2004
Mariam Mayet, Nov 2004

read more

Critical Analysis Of Pertinent Legislation Regulating Genetic Modification In Food And Agriculture In South Africa
Mariam Mayet, May 2001

read more

Analysis Of South Africa’s Gmo Act Of 1997
Mariam Mayet, Spring 2000

read more

Regulations No. 1420
Genetically Modified Organisms Act 15 Of 1997
26 November 1999

read more

South Africa – GM Food Labelling Regulations

Why Do We Need To Label Genetically Modified (gm) Food Products?
Facts For South African Consumers
African Centre for Biosafety, Feb 2006

read more

Critical Analysis Of South Africa‘s Labelling Regulations For Genetically Modified Food, Feed And Products Derived From Gm-fed Animals
Mariam Mayet, Oct 2004

read more

Regulations Relating To The Labelling Of Foodstuffs Obtained Through Certain Techniques Of Genetic Modification
Jan 2004

read more

South Africans support international GM opposition day

Earthlife Africa (ELA) and the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) are joining an international day of action on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on Saturday the 8th of April, in demanding that GM food for sale in South Africa is labeled as such. Currently, South Africa‘s labeling regulations do not require the mandatory labeling of GM foodstuff, thereby denying consumers the right to know what they are eating and to avoid GM food if they so wish.

read more

Zambia – GMO Legislation


The Draft Labeling Standards are non-binding in the sense that they do not create legally binding obligations and responsibilities. As such, they are also not legally enforceable. The lack of teeth of the standards is not cured by the fact that the Zambian Bureau of Standards, a statutory body, produces the standards. However, the standards do fit well into the efforts underway in Zambia, regarding its establishment of a detection laboratory for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and more generally, its proactive policy on biosafety on the African continent. According to Zambia‘s National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR), the new laboratory is being built to safeguard Zambian’s health and maintain a sustainable environment. The goal is also to have the new facility accredited as a regional and national referral laboratory. It is quite possible that the laboratory may qualify as one of the Biotechnology Centres of Excellence contemplated by the Science and Technology Secretariat established under the auspices of the New Partnership for Africa‘s Development (NEPAD), although no decision has yet been made by NEPAD’s Science and Technology Steering Committee which institutions would form part of the Centre of Excellence networks.

In the “Forward” to

A glimpse through the crack in the door: South Africa’s permitting system for GMOs

During 2004, the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) spent a considerable amount of time monitoring the South African permitting system for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In the course of its work, it lodged comprehensive objections to numerous applications for the import, marketing and field- testing of GMOs.
read more