The ACB is committed to dismantling inequalities in the food and agriculture systems in Africa and the promotion of agro-ecology and food sovereignty.

Can the poor help GM crops? Technology, Representation, and Cotton in the Makhathini Flats

The adoption of Genetically Modified (GM) cotton in South Africa‘s Makhathini Flats in 1998 was heralded as a case in which agricultural biotechnology could benefit smallholder farmers, and a model for the rest of the continent to follow. Using historical, political economic and ethnographic data, we find the initial enthusiasm around GM technology to be misguided. We argue that Makhathini’s structured institutional framework privileges adopters of GM technologies through access to credit and markets. The adoption of GM cotton is symptomatic not of farmers’ endorsement of GM technology, but a sign of the profound lack of choice facing them in the region.

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Groups in Latin America and Africa call for rejection of World Bank GEF biosafety projects

Two World Bank projects, with funding from the GEF (Global Environmental Facility), propose to introduce genetically modified crops such as maize, potatoes, cassava, rice and cotton into African and Latin American countries that are centres of origin or diversity for these and other major food crops. Civil society organisations warn that DNA contamination from genetically modified crops poses an unacceptable risk to staple crops that are the basis of peasant economies in these regions.

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Adenovirus type 5 with HIV gag, pol and nef genes / Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital

Adenovirus type 5 with HIV gag, pol and nef genes / Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital

Comments and Concerns on the application made by Prof. Glenda Gray in respect of HIV vaccine clinical trial of genetically modified organism (MRKAd5 HIV-1 gag/pol/nef)

African Centre for Biosafety, 24 June 2006

Comments and concerns

It should be noted that this submission is written in the context of a country that is devastated by HIV-AIDS at every level. That solutions are needed for this is without question. However, the use of a contested technology such as genetic engineering / genetic modification is disputed.

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has, in the past, made comment to the Department of Agriculture on applications relating to genetically modified food and agricultural crops. This application for a clinical trial of a GM vaccine is the first medical application that ACB has commented on. The lack of information in the public domain became quickly evident. Brief details were obtained from the press release informing the public of the application, but further information was not available. To comment effectively on an application, and therefore for

LibertyLink-Rice / Bayer CropScience

Application Made By Bayer Cropscience Gmbh In Respect Of A Commodity Clearance Application For Event Llrice62 To The National Department Of Agriculture, South Africa
African Centre for Biosafety, supported by various organisations, groups, companies, and individuals, Jun 2006

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Article 18(2)(a): The Trojan Horse of the Biosafety Protocol

By Mariam Mayet
African Centre for Biosafety
July 2006

The ?may contain? labels flood the feed sector. Even transboundary movements which could pass as GM-free under existing legislation for LMO-FFPs are labelled as ?may contain?.
Grain trade and important ports are leading in this clever move which actually ridicules the Protocol?
Christine Von Weitsacker1

When the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (?Biosafety Protocol?) was adopted in the small hours on the morning on the 29 January 2000 in Montreal, Canada, delegates had little time to reflect on the implications of the last minute concessions that had been made to Argentina, concerning what would later become the infamous and highly contested ?Article 18(2)(a)?. 2 What had just been conceded was breathing space for the cartel of international grain traders3 to continue with their unrestricted, free trade in GMOs/ bulk shipments of grains, oilseeds and pulses contaminated by GMOs.

Bulk shipments of maize, Soya and canola account for over 98% of the global trade in GMOs. The bulk commodity trade in GM and non GM trade constitutes some 200 million tonnes of cereals, 30 million tonnes of rice, more than 70 million tonnes of oilseeds and

Bioethanol-Maize / Syngenta

Bioethanol-Maize / Syngenta


Comments on Syngenta’s Application for Commodity Clearance of Genetically Modified Maize, Event 3272
African Centre for Biosafety & Centre for Food Safety, 29 May 2006

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Syngenta’s Event 3272 maize represents the very first genetically modified (GM) industrial crop for which commodity clearance is sought from the National Department of Agriculture. The intended industrial application is for fuel ethanol production:

“In those countries where Event 3272 maize will be cultivated (not in South Africa), the grain will be used in the dry-grind fuel ethanol process.” (NDA 2006)

In fact, it is the first such GM industrial crop for which any sort of commercial approval (whether for cultivation or import) has been sought anywhere in the world. This raises the question of how such a GM crop should be regulated.


Event 3272 is not just another GM corn variety. It is the first GM crop to be proposed for commercial approval that has been specifically modified for an industrial use. It contains a novel enzyme derived from little-known deep-sea organisms. It belongs to a class of enzymes

Mozambique – GMO Legislation


The proposed biosafety regulatory regime (hereafter referred to as the “draft biosafety law” or “biosafety law”) of the Republic of Mozambique consists of a draft Decree of Council of Ministers, containing the biosafety regulation and 2 draft technical guidelines for risk evaluation as well as public awareness and participation in biosafety and biotechnology related issues.

The biosafety regulation itself consists of a preamble, 27 articles, organised in 9 chapters and 6 annexes, and a glossary of terms.

The draft biosafety law is typically a permitting system, based on a step-bystep, case-by-case risk assessment, evaluation and decision-making that adopt a risk management approach to genetic engineering in food agriculture and medicine. By this we mean that Mozambique views genetic engineering as having a role to play in agriculture, food security and human health care, but that the risks have to be managed by the creation of an enabling legislative environment, to this end. In other words, Mozambique will follow the route taken by South Africa and permit the entry of GMOs into its agriculture systems, after a desk- top evaluation of the risk assessment data provide by an applicant.

Currently, Mozambique’s seed law prohibits the import and planting of GM

South Africa, Bioethanol and GMOs: A Heady Mixture

On the 12th of May 2006 Syngenta South Africa (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary of Swiss chemical giant Syngenta, notified the public of its intention to seek commodity clearance for its GM maize for the use in the production of ethanol. This is the first GM application for commercial approval in the world for a non-feed, non-food GM crop, using a food crop, has simultaneously also been launched in the US, the EU and China.

This briefing paper offers a summary of our biosafety concerns relating to Syngenta’s application. In addition, it also delves beneath the veneer of the agro-fuels boom, particularly in South Africa, and questions the general assumptions offered by the industry that agrofuels will simultaneously mitigate climate change, and provide mass employment opportunities for the poor and the marginalised.

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South Africa – GMO Act 15

Submission To Chairpersons Of Portfolio Committees Of:
Agriculture And Land Affairs, Environmental Affairs And Tourism, Science And Technology, Health, Trade And Industry, Water Affairs And Forestry, Labour
Mariam Mayet, April 2006

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Supported by South African Freeze Alliance on Genetic Engineering, Earthlife Africa, Safe Food Coalition, Ekogaia Foundation, Farmers Legal Action Group-South Africa, Noordhoek Environmental Action Group, Merlin Business Services (Theo Schuurmans), Earth 52 (Harald Witt), Permacore, The Permaculture Foundation of the Western Cape (Noel Marten), Biophile Magazine.

Comments On The Genetically Modified Organsims Amendment Bill (revised Version), 2005
Mariam Mayet, September 2005

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A Glimpse Through The Cracks In The Door: South Africa‘s Permitting System For Gmos
Mariam Mayet, January 2005

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Submissions On South Africa’s Genetically Modified Organisms Amendment Bill Published 8 October 2004
Mariam Mayet, Nov 2004

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Critical Analysis Of Pertinent Legislation Regulating Genetic Modification In Food And Agriculture In South Africa
Mariam Mayet, May 2001

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Analysis Of South Africa’s Gmo Act Of 1997
Mariam Mayet, Spring 2000

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Regulations No. 1420
Genetically Modified Organisms Act 15 Of 1997
26 November 1999

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