In this Alert, the ACB explains how South Africa, through various grain traders, imported GM maize from the US, Argentina and Brazil during Jan-April 2017 due to the drought that hit parts of Southern Africa. It also shows how GM maize is then exported out of South Africa to Swaziland and Zimbabwe and there pushing up prices of maize and contaminating local GM varieties-aside from the biosafety risks the GM maize poses to consumers in all three countries..
This Four-page document summarises the recent report published by the African Centre for Biodiversity: Transitioning out of GM maize: to agroecology for sustainable, socially just and nutritional food systems, that 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
This is the first set of easily-to-read and share material, and is available in 5 languages: English, Afrikaans, isiZulu, isiXhosa and Sesotho.
ACB Preliminary comments on Draft Regulations Implementing the Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants
Draft Regulations for the implementation of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation’s (ARIPO’s) Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (Arusha Protocol), were considered for adoption in June 2016. The proposed regulations included provisions designed to intimidate and force seed processors, seed suppliers, government certification officers and even farmers’ organisations to police and spy on farmers who use farm-saved protected seed. These comments strongly object to many aspects of the regulations and offer alternative proposals aimed at safeguarding national sovereignty as well as farmers’ rights.
Which way forward for Zambia’s smallholder farmers: Green Revolution input subsidies or agro-ecology?
ACB wishes everyone a happy and peaceful 2015
Glyphosate in SA: unregulated and contaminating our water and soil: ACB calls for a moratorium on glyphosate use
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has today released its new research on glyphosate, titled “Glyphosate in SA: Risky pesticide at large and unregulated in our soil and water”. The research shows that although glyphosate (a weed killer) is ubiquitous throughout South African agriculture, there is precious little research done to monitor and manage its environmental impacts.
Glyphosate is most commonly used in agricultural crop production and has become synonymous with genetically modified (GM) herbicide tolerant (HT) cops. HT maize now accounts for 50% of all GM maize planted in South Africa. GM soya cultivation rose from 165,000 ha in 2008 to 472,000 ha in 2012. Over a similar period (2005 – 2012), the overall use of glyphosate has increased from 12 million litres to 20 million litres. Similarly, from 2007 to 2011 glyphosate imports increased by 177%.
According to the ACB study, far from being the benign substance claimed by the pesticide industry, notably Monsanto, glyphosate exerts a heavy toll on plants, the soil, wildlife and aquatic systems.
The ACB research points to a number of risks associated with glyphosate use which include:
- glyphosate, and glyphosate based herbicides (GBH): have been
Letter to Minister of Agriculture regarding South Africa’s non-compliance with information sharing requirements of the Cartagena Protocol. 6 July 2010
This is our third appeal to the Minister of Agriculture to comply with obligations under the Cartagena Protocol. This document lays out our concerns to the Minister and details the minimum requirements for information on GMOs that must be posted to the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) according to the Protocol. It highlights the shortfalls in the South African information posted to date and includes an overview of GMO permits issued in South Africa since 2003.
In terms of the Cartagena Protocol, to which South Africa became a party in 2003, the South African government is obliged to provide open access to state-held information about GMOs. The Protocol obliges its Parties to post information regarding GMOs to the international Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) to ensure transparency and information sharing with the international community and South African citizens. The minimum required information to be posted to the BCH is also incorporated in the South African Geneticallly Modified Organisms Act (1997) Regulations of 26 February 2010, which obliges the GMO registrar to communicate this information to the BCH. However, to date, this minimum required information has not been posted to the international Biosafety Clearing House in contravention with international and domestic law.
The ACB has come to the following conclusions about Syngenta’s application:
In terms of the molecular characterisation of the event:
- It indicates several irregularities including open reading frames and a truncated constructs which could give rise to unintended gene effects
- The transfer of the herbicide-tolerant trait to weeds could result in increased herbicide application. The potential for economically important weeds developing herbicide tolerance is a cause for concern
- Glyphosate use has resulted in several unwanted effects on aquatic systems and terrestrial organisms and ecosystems
- The US experience of Roundup Ready field trials has shown a marked increase in herbicide usage, particularly glyphosate
- In the Argentinean experience, the large scale uptake of Roundup Ready Soya has had devastating impacts on food security and the environment
Furthermore, it is our contention that:
- Reliance on the assessments of EFSA is fraught with problems given the criticisms and contradictions inherent within EFSA especially in respect of its methodologies and perceived pro-industry stance, which it is itself grappling with
- The claims of the increased yield performance of GM crops are unsubstantiated
- GMO plantings contribute to increased rather than reduced pesticide use
- It is disingenuous to suggest that planting of GM crops will contribute to
As usual, we have only been furnished with information that the developers deem to be ‘non-confidential’, so crucial data required to make a thorough independent assessment is missing. Excluded information included details of test data specific to South African growing conditions.
The cauliflower mosaic virus 35s promoter (35S-CaMV) is present in GA21 x Bt11. There is a substantial body of evidence from both the laboratory and field studies pointing to the risks of using this particular promoter in genetic engineering.
Bt11 secrets a toxin that is lethal to some plant pests. Claims that this leads to reduced applications of pesticides neglect to mention that the Bt11 toxin will be ever present in an environment where this is planted. In China, where over 10 million small scale farmers grown Bt cotton, famers are now having to use nearly as much pesticides as before its introduction to combat secondary pests that have thrived since the introduction of Bt11.
GA21 x Bt 11 is tolerant to glyphosate based herbicides (traded under the name Roundup Ready). In the United States the widespread planting of Roundup Ready crops has led to the emergence of ‘superweeds’ that are causing havoc for farmers. In Argentina,
Traceability, segregation and labelling of genetically modified products in South Africa: A Position paper on the implementation of the Consumer Protection Act and mandatory labelling of GM food
South Africa has promulgated national legislation, the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), which creates an opportunity for the mandatory labelling of certain foodstuffs containing or which are genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). The Act sets out a number of consumer rights that have relevance to the sale of products with genetically modified components. These include the right to choose; the right to disclosure and information; the right to fair and honest dealing; and the right to fair value, good quality and safety.
This report considers some of the issues relevant to the effective labelling of products containing GM ingredients in South Africa. Since the CPA only refers to food for human consumption in relation to labelling for GM products, the report narrowly focuses on this. The report starts with the objectives of labelling and the integrity of the labelling system; and what type of labelling could be used. It then considers the value chains for the three GM crops in South Africa – maize, soy and cotton – and considers where power lies in each chain. Demand for non-GM products in South Africa is considered next. This is important because, in a market-driven economy, premiums for non-GM products will determine the