The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) is relieved to learn that Monsanto has withdrawn its application to conduct GM canola field trails in South Africa.

GM Canola is predominantly grown in the USA, Canada and Australia. The global market for GM canola, used principally for cooking oils and animal feed, is estimated to be worth US$ 300 million. The ACB objected to Monsanto’s field trial application in September 2009 when the ACB raised serious concerns that the field trials would pose unacceptable environmental risks, including gene flow into wild populations. The South African biosafety authorities were of a similar opinion, and twice requested that Monsanto provide additional biosafety information. Monsanto’s decision to withdraw its application clearly indicates it could not provide sufficient safety assurances. A recent study by the University of Arkansas in the US corroborates these fears. In North Dakota, (a large GM canola growing area), 80% of the wild canola plants studied have developed herbicide resistance by crossing with GM varieties. Studies in both Canada and Japan have come to similar conclusions. Although GM Canola is not grown in Japan, transgenic oil seed rape, a close relative of canola was found in areas adjacent to the ports where it is imported. “It is with a great deal of relief that South Africa has been spared this great threat to our abundant biodiversity,” said Mariam Mayet, executive director of the ACB.

Our objections can be found on our website.