It was only in 1999, after much pressure from civil society groups, that the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) Act of 1997 came into force. At that early stage, few people had expertise on GMOs and civil society was only starting to learn about the issues. Therefore, government relied on experts from the biotechnology industry to draft the laws. The result is a flawed GMO Act that protects the interests of industry. The Act was amended once in 2006 to bring it in line with some of provisions of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

The ACB has played a watchdog role, constantly monitoring GMO approvals for the last decade. This has involved a lot of engagement with the various departments involved in regulating GMOs, as well as interrogating new permits for GMOs. Our major frustrations have been around public participation and access to information. The law makes it quite difficult for members of the public to be involved in an informed manner. It also puts a very strong emphasis on scientific expertise and gives little consideration to ethical, socio-economic and other concerns such as impacts on culture or agricultural practice.

Read the fact sheet here.