Media

White men meet in London to plot ways of profiting off Africa’s seed systems

White men meet in London to plot ways of profiting off Africa’s seed systems

A meeting is to be held in London on 23 March by predominantly white men with a sprinkling of Africans, some of whom represent private seed companies, to discuss how to make a killing off Africa?s seed systems.

Farmers and civil society organisations have not been invited to the meeting, which will be attended only by private seed companies, donors, representatives from Africa?s regional economic communities, research centres and multinational development organisations.

The meeting will discuss a study produced by Monitor-Deloitte, commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and USAID. BMGF is a big sponsor of the commercialisation of agriculture in Africa, including through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Working with USAID, this commercial agenda extends US foreign policy into Africa and threatens the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers who rely on recycling seed for their livelihoods.

The goal of the Deloitte study is to develop models for commercialisation of seed production in Africa, especially on early generation seed (EGS), and to identify ways in which the African public sector could facilitate private involvement in African seed systems. The

US FORCE FEEDS GM CROPS TO AFRICAN NATIONS, SAYS NEW REPORT

Friends of the Earth International

 

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, 23 February, 2015 ? US agencies, funders such as the Gates Foundation, and agribusiness giant Monsanto are trying to force unwilling African nations to accept expensive and insufficiently tested Genetically Modified (GM) foods and crops, according to a new report released today. [1]

?The US, the world’s top producer of GM crops, is seeking new markets for American GM crops in Africa. The US administration’s strategy consists of assisting African nations to produce biosafety laws that promote agribusiness interests instead of protecting Africans from the potential threats of GM crops,? said Haidee Swanby from the African Centre for Biosafety, which authored the report commissioned by Friends of the Earth International.

The new report also exposes how agribusiness giant Monsanto influences biosafety legislation in African countries, gains regulatory approval for its product, and clears the path for products such as GM maize (corn).

Only four African countries -South Africa, Egypt, Burkina Faso and Sudan- have released GM crops commercially but the issue of genetically modified maize is deeply controversial, given that maize is the staple food of millions of Africans.

Unlike Europe and other regions where strong biosafety laws have been

Manipulate and Mislead: How GMOs Are Infiltrating Africa

gmo_foei

The most persistent myth about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is that they are necessary to feed a growing global population. Highly effective marketing campaigns have drilled it into our heads that GMOs will produce more food on less land in an environmentally friendly manner. The mantra has been repeated so often that it is considered to be truth. Now this mantra has come to Africa, sung by the United States government and multinational corporations like Monsanto, seeking to open new markets for a product that has been rejected by so many others around the globe.

While many countries have implemented strict legal frameworks to regulate GMOs, African nations have struggled with the legal, scientific and infrastructural resources to do so. This has delayed the introduction of GMOs into Africa, but it has also provided the proponents of GMOs a plum opportunity to offer their assistance, in the process helping to craft laws on the continent that promote the introduction of barely regulated GMOs and create investor-friendly environments for agribusiness. Their line is that African governments must adopt GMOs as a matter of urgency to deal with hunger and that laws implementing pesky and expensive safety measures, or requiring assessments

AGRA’s scandalous subsidisation of big fertiliser, financial and agribusiness corporations in Africa

In a scandalous move of skulduggery, the African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), under the guise of empowering smallholder farmers in Africa, is subsidising multinational fertiliser and financial corporations on African soil. Other beneficiaries of this scheme are the global grain trading and food processing giants.

AFAP, established in 2012, with a grant of US $25 million from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)-the biggest grant given to a single recipient by AGRA so far- is ostensibly working towards ensuring that African smallholder farmers grow food and profits. However, according to a new report from the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) – The African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP): The missing link in Africa’s Green Revolution, AFAP’s main focus is the provision of credit guarantees to importers and distributors of fertilisers in Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania.

“In essence, AFAP is using development funds, as well as money from the Ethiopian government – one of the least developed countries in the world – to subsidise multinational fertiliser companies such as Yara, which dominates the fertiliser trade in Africa. This also extends to large multinational banks such as the Standard Bank Group, Barclays and the Dutch firm Rabobank, who

RAILROADING AFRICAN GOVTS INTO ADOPTING ARIPO PVP PROTOCOL BASED ON UPOV 1991: AFSA APPEALS TO ARIPO MEMBER STATES FOR POSTPONEMENT OF DIPLOMATIC CONFERENCE AND FOR URGENT CONSULTATIONS WITH SMALL-HOLDER FARMERS

AFSA attended a Regional Workshop on the ARIPO PVP Protocol, 29-31 October 2014, in Harare Zimbabwe, where numerous technical and administrative flaws continue to characterise the process. In particular, member states were forced into accepting a recommendation, disguised as if crafted by them, mandating ARIPO to urgently organize and call for the Diplomatic Conference for the adoption of the Protocol. In reality, member states, instead, unanimously endorsed the need for further consultations to be held at national levels and independent expert review of the draft ARIPO PVP Protocol and that talk of a Diplomatic Conference to adopt the Protocol is hopelessly premature.

read more

Acquisition of Africa?s SeedCo by Monsanto, Groupe Limagrain: Neo-colonial occupation of Africa?s seed systems

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) is deeply concerned about the recent acquisitions by multi-national seed companies of large parts of SeedCo, one of Africa?s largest home-grown seed companies. Attracting foreign investment from the world?s largest seed companies, most of who got to their current dominant positions by devouring national seed companies and their competitors through mergers and acquisitions, is an inevitable consequence of the fierce drive to commercialise agriculture in Africa.

The deals in question involve French seed giant Groupe Limagrain, the largest seed and plant breeding company in the European Union, who has invested up to US$60 million for a 28% stake in SeedCo. In another transaction, SeedCo has agreed to sell 49% of its shares in Africa?s only cottonseed company, Quton, to Mahyco of India. Mahyco is 26% owned by Monsanto and has 50:50 joint venture with the gene-giant to sub-license its genetically modified (GM) bt cotton traits throughout India. Interestingly, Mahyco also specialises in hybrid cotton varieties, unlike Quton, who also produces open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) of cottonseed.

These acquisitions follow close on the heels of Swiss biotech giant Syngenta?s take-over in 2013 of Zambian seed company MRI Seed, whose maize germplasm collection was said

Resources transferred from small-scale farmers to multinational agribusinesses in Malawi’s Green Revolution

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has today released its research report based on field work conducted in Malawi, titled “Running to stand still: Small-scale farmers and the Green Revolution in Malawi.” The research, conducted by the ACB in collaboration with the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM), Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology and Dr Blessings Chinsinga from the University of Malawi, does not validate the argument that Malawi is a Green Revolution success story. On the contrary, the research highlights the plight of small-scale farmers at the receiving end of the Green Revolution (GR) push in Malawi. Among its findings are that farmers are trapped in a cycle of debt and dependency on costly external inputs with limited long-term benefit, and that the natural resource base is being degraded and eroded despite ? or perhaps because of – GR inputs.

According to ACB’s lead researcher, Dr Stephen Greenberg, “our research found that small-scale farmers are using shockingly high levels of synthetic fertilisers at great financial costs to themselves and the public purse. Rising soil infertility is a feature of farming systems reliant on synthetic fertiliser. We found that farmers are increasingly adopting hybrid maize seed, encouraged by

Industry employing bullying tactics to scupper GM food labelling in South Africa

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

read more

ALLIANCE FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY IN AFRICA: MEDIA BRIEFING AFSA APPEALS TO ARIPO, AU AND UNECA FOR PROTECTION OF FARMERS’ RIGHTS & RIGHT TO FOOD

Addis Ababa

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), a Pan African platform comprising civil society networks and farmer organisations working towards food sovereignty in Africa, has today lodged an urgent appeal to the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to urgently revise the draft ARIPO Plant Variety Protection Protocol, recognise farmers? rights and facilitate the right to food. AFSA is requesting that such revision be based on a broader consultation process with farmer organisations and experts from outside of the plant breeders? rights sector.

African civil society organisations, many of them members of AFSA, made submissions to ARIPO on its draft Plant Variety Protection (PVP) law and policies in November 2012. AFSA has itself submitted comments on ARIPO?s Response to Civil Society: Draft Legal Framework for Plant Variety Protection, March 2014. In both submissions, several serious concerns were raised about the law, which later was titled ?the draft ARIPO Plant Variety Protection Protocol?, being based on UPOV 1991 (the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants), a restrictive and inflexible legal regime focused solely on promoting and protecting the rights of commercial breeders that develop

Below the belt, below the breadline – South Africa’s inequitable and GM contaminated bread industry

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.

Bread_Percentages

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