These reports introduce the novel techniques already being employed, or in development and their associated biosafety concerns that go against the claim that crops developed with these methods are technological progress in ‘precision’ and ‘safety’. Further described is the utilisation of RNA interference, an epigenetic process that is already being employed in commercialised crops. Despite not being a novel technique under discussion for GM legislation, the utilisation of epigenetic processes based on RNA interference deserves special consideration for biosafety discussion.
In December 2016 Monsanto shareholders voted in favour of the sale of the company to Bayer for US$66 billion, making it the largest-ever foreign corporate takeover by a German company.
Both Bayer and Monsanto are major global manufacturers of agrochemicals and seeds, including genetically modified seed. A merged entity would be the world’s largest supplier by sales of both seeds and pesticides, controlling 29 percent of the world’s commercial seed markets and 24 percent of the world’s pesticide markets. Bayer and Monsanto are major actors in South Africa’s seed and agrochemical industries. The deal will require approval from about 30 regulatory agencies around the world, including by South Africa’s Competition Commission.
The BAYER-MONSANTO merger: Implications for South Africa’s agricultural future and its smallholder farmers
This paper explores the likely implications of an approved Bayer-Monsanto merger for the South African agricultural system. It outlines the trend of consolidation occurring within the seed and agrochemical industries, provides a background to the merger, criticises the rationale given for the merger by Bayer and Monsanto and outlines concerns should the merger be approved in South Africa.
These concerns focus on the implications for South African farmers, smallholder farmers
in particular. The paper argues that further consolidation of an already corporate- controlled seed sector is not needed and that it undermines the emergence of an alternative system that would support smallholder farmers in contributing to food security in an egalitarian agricultural economy.
This report is a result of research conducted in partnership with Tshintsha Amakhaya, Farmer Support Group, TCOE Zingisa and Surplus People Project. The report investigates the state of farmer-managed seed systems in rural South Africa.
Through 3 case studies in Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, the report highlights both the fragility and perseverance of smallholder farmers, who continue to maintain agricultural biodiversity and traditional knowledge, in the face of increasing pressure from all sides. Smallholder farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to make end meet in an agricultural sector dominated by large-scale commercial production and corporate value chains.
Multinational corporations dominate seed provision in South Africa, further driving a commercial and industrial Green Revolution agenda. Farmer-managed seed systems, and the diversity of crops and diets that rely on them, are marginalised and neglected in the process.
The research is one step in highlighting the threats and opportunities facing smallholders and biodiversity in an increasingly harsh production environment. ACB will continue working with our partners and smallholder farmers to support and promote sustainable farming practices and farmer-managed seed systems as part of our broader objectives to transform seed and food systems in South Africa.
Standing up for farmer-saved seeds, agrobiodiversity and seed sovereignty! ACB commenting on revised seed laws in South Africa
ACB submitted comments on the Plant Breeders’ Rights and Plant Improvement Bills, to the Select Committee on Land and Mineral Resources on the 24th January 2017.
These bills restrict the saving, trading, exchanging, and sale of seed. This can have massive ramifications on seed and food sovereignty, agricultural biodiversity, access to diverse seed, and increasing the disparities and inequalities in South African agriculture, food and nutrition.
ACB will continue to engage in this process to ensure that South African seed laws take into account farmer-managed seed systems, agrobiodiversity, and maintain farmer’s rights to save, reuse, exchange, and sell seed.
We invite interested parties to join this conversation, to fight for our right to seed.
This lobby paper Who will feed Africans: Small-scale farmers not corporations! produced by the partnership between FoEA and ACB, makes the compelling case for African agriculture to transition towards agroecology and food sovereignty, recognising and strengthening the role of small scale farmers, rather than benefitting few large scale corporations with detrimental ecological, socio-economic, and nutritional outcomes. It argues strongly for a shift in the approach to agricultural development, from a chemical approach to a biological approach; from a Green Revolution, to an Agroecological Revolution; putting smallholder producers at the centre.
The paper points to extensive evidence that shows that agroecological farming systems can provide the foundation to feed a growing and urbanised African population, protect livelihoods and preserve and regenerate ecological resources to sustain future generations.
These graphics, captured in an easy to read and visually informative manner, illustrate the stark difference of practices and values between the current industrial food system and agroecological food systems.
It is clear that the industrial model is unsustainable, lacks nutrition, destroys livelihoods, and is an unsuitable model as we move into an increasingly uncertain future.
We need radical reforms in agriculture and food systems, which are ecologically and socially just, and ensure safe, healthy, and nutritional food for current and future generations.
African Civil Society and farmer representatives blocked from ARIPO deliberations on regional seed (PVP) law
Press Release from the African Centre for Biodiversity and PELUM Association in collaboration with the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa
29 November 2016
The authoritarian nature of the African Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) Secretariat and its undemocratic processes are scandalous and unacceptable. Locking African farmer representatives and civil society out in order to allow unfettered draconian regional law making is deeply disturbing. What is at play here is entrenching an agricultural future for smallholder farmers in the 19 ARIPO countries that will ensure that profits accrue mainly to the corporate sector and a tiny group of elite players that can engage in the commercial agriculture value chain, while pushing the already marginalised majority of smallholder farmers further into hunger, poverty and dispossession.
ARIPO will host an Administrative Council meeting 5–8 December 2016 in Harare, Zimbabwe for its 19 ARIPO Member States, to adopt deeply troubling draft Regulations to implement a highly contested and controversial regional law on seeds – the Arusha Protocol on Protection of New Varieties of Plants (PVP). ARIPO has refused point blank to allow any African farmer representative or civil society to attend the December meeting on the spurious and frivolous grounds that ARIPO has no
Biosafety TWN Briefing – Biosafety aspects of genome-editing techniques.
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.