Despite the grave warnings of the COVID 19 pandemic and the increased need to de-colonise and de-corporatise our food systems and shift towards sovereignty, there continues to be an increase in the applications for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) of the 2,4-D variety, for introduction into the South African farming and food system.

This trend is extremely worrying, especially in the light of the approval of 2,4-D maize varieties for cultivation, and 2,4-D soybean GM events under trials. As it is, South Africa’s agricultural and food system is heavily burdened with the increased use of pesticide due to the prevalence of industrial, chemical-based crop production. This rise is due to the limitations of the current biosafety regulatory system, which does not provide a coherent, inclusive and integrated assessment of associated chemical use with GMOs.

A growing number of countries are scientifically re-evaluating and imposing bans on the use of toxic herbicides, citing human health and environmental concerns. In contrast, in South Africa, citizens are continuously put at risk due to the use of toxic chemicals such as 2,4-D.

In this submission, the ACB objects to the approval for commodity clearance of Pioneer Hi-Bred RSA’s DAS-81419-2 x DAS-44406-6 soybean into the South African food system.

Our objections highlights the following key concerns:

  • Risks to human and animal health posed by multiple herbicides contained in the stacked GM soybean DAS-81419-2 x DAS-44406-6 variety.
  • Corporate expansion of soybean is maintained and furthered, with the creation of new markets for 2,4-D, glufosinate ammonium and glyphosate.
  • Exacerbation of the current public health crises due to increased pesticide residues that will contaminate our food system.
  • Lack of comprehensive, independent and transparent environmental, socio-economic and food safety assessment of the combined effects of 2,4-D, glufosinate, glyphosate and their adjuvants.

The ACB further calls for a ban and the phasing out of all toxic herbicides, including 2,4-D, and for a shift away from GM-based agriculture towards an agro-ecologically diverse farming and food system, built on economies that protect small producers, protect nature and provides linkages between smallholder farmer and farmer seed systems that will ensure the ultimate conservation of our biodiversity.

Photo Credit: Jo Zimny Photos