Tag Archive: Biosafety

WEMA Project shrouded in secrecy: open letter to African governments to be accountable to farmers, civil society

Sign our Open Letter

 

The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project promises to develop drought tolerance in maize for the benefit of small holder farmers, but is really a project designed to facilitate the spread of hybrid and genetically modified (GM) maize varieties on the continent.
WEMA involves five African countries: Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. It works through the National Agricultural Research (NAR) agencies of these countries, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT)
and Monsanto. The project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Secrecy
There is a great deal of secrecy that surrounds the WEMA project. The AATF (the so-called ‘not for profit’ organisation that coordinates WEMA) exercises extremely tight control over any information related to WEMA and has prevented researchers from speaking to WEMA partners, including the NARs. Information relating to performance and quality control is notably absent from the WEMA website. The NARs are public research institutions and are accountable to the public, especially in regard to the use of public goods under their control, such as germplasm, institutional resources and capacities. They are under constitutional and

OPEN LETTER TO AFRICAN BIOSAFETY REGULATORS

OPEN LETTER TO AFRICAN BIOSAFETY REGULATORS

Do not allow Africans to be used as guinea pigs for untested high-risk new GM technology

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa calls for an immediate ban on the importation into South Africa of Monsanto’s high-risk second-generation gene-silencing genetically modified (GM) maize destined for human consumption. AFSA rejects and condemns US corporation Monsanto’s plan to exploit millions of Africans as unwitting human guinea pigs for their latest genetic engineering experiment. AFSA also condemns the IITA field trial application in Nigeria using this same risky technology to produce GM cassava for the agro-fuels industry.

These GM applications target staple foods of maize and cassava, eaten by many millions of Africans every day. Scientists have reported that the untested gene-silencing effect is able to cross over into mammals and humans, and affect their genetic makeup with unknown potential negative consequences, and have called for long-term animal testing and stronger regulation before this goes ahead.

In an open letter to African Biosafety Regulators AFSA demands that, while these risks remain, the introduction of this untested RNAi technology be unequivocally banned by all member states of the African Union. Regulators in South Africa and Nigeria are urged

Agroecology in South Africa: policy and practice

The African Centre for Biosafety has prepared a discussion document on agroecology-related policy in South Africa, and included a few examples of agroecology practices in South Africa. We trust that this document will contribute to the recently launched Food Sovereignty Campaign and the progress of agroecology practice being made on the ground in South Africa.

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MONSANTO FORCED TO WITHDRAW UNSUBSTANTIATED ADVERTISING CLAIMS ON BENEFITS OF GM CROPS-ADVERTISING STANDARDS AUTHORITY OF SOUTH AFRICA

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of South Africa has today ordered Monsanto to withdraw its advertisement on Radio 702 with immediate effect, wherein Monsanto claims the benefits of GM crops. According to ASA, Monsanto?s claims were found to be unsubstantiated. ? The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) lodged a complaint to the ASA following an advertisement on Radio 702 by Monsanto wherein Monsanto claims that GM crops ?enable us to produce more food sustainably whilst using fewer resources; provide a healthier environment by saving on pesticides; decrease greenhouse gas emissions and increase crop yields substantially.? The ACB was supported in its complaint by Ms Judith Taylor from Earthlife Africa. ? Monsanto was given an opportunity by ASA to respond to the ACB?s complaint but was according to the ASA, only able to provide the ASA with links to documents on its website but was unable to provide, as it is required to in terms of South African law governing advertising, inputs from an independent and credible expert confirming the various studies that Monsanto relied upon showing the ostensible benefits of GM crops. ? ?We are elated with this decision. Monsanto has already been warned by the ASA as far back

Objection to Monsanto’s application for commodity clearance for MON 89034 x MON 88017

This submission by Monsanto makes a joke of biosafety risk assessment in that it is not based on the actual event under consideration, but rather, the applicant posits claim of lack of harm, toxicity, and allergenicity based on data carried out on other lines containing the same transgene/event. This violates the case by case approach to GMO risk assessment enshrined in the GMO Act 1997. It also lacks sufficient scientific data to support claims of safety and this is exacerbated by lack of peer reviewed information on this event. In addition, the applicant has not considered the health impacts of the herbicide to which this event is engineered to tolerate. Furthermore, approval of this commodity import is likely to significantly impact upon commercial and emerging maize producers, and could have further impacts along the value chain. There are other issues affecting animal feed producers and consumers (the continuation of cheap chicken imports from the EU, for example), the resolution of which would do more to strengthen South Africa?s agricultural sector. It is the opinion of the ACB that this application should be rejected on both biosafety and socio-economic grounds.

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Africa bullied to grow defective BT Maize: the failure of Monsanto’s M810 maize in South Africa

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has released a new report ‘Africa bullied to grow defective Bt Maize: the failure of Monsanto’s MON810 maize in South Africa,’ showing how Monsanto’s GM maize which utterly failed in SA, is now being foisted on the rest of the continent, through ‘sleight of hand.’

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FOOD FASCISM IN SOUTH AFRICA: TIGER BRANDS, PIONEER AND PREMIER FORCE FEEDING THE NATION RISKY GM MAIZE

The ACB has today, released test results on the most extensively consumed maize brands in South Africa, which indicate that the entire maize supply is utterly saturated with GM maize. ?The majority of South Africans are not only eating GM maize without their knowledge and consent but have no choice or alternative whatsoever even if the products were correctly labelled. This is totally undemocratic and unacceptable. It smacks of outright food fascism? said Mariam Mayet, Director of the African Centre for Biosafety.

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AFSA Statement Condemning COMESA Approval of GMO Policy

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa[1] is alarmed at the approval during September 2013, by the Council of Ministers of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) of the COMESA ?Draft Policy Statements and Guidelines for commercial planting of GMOs, Trade in GMOs and Emergency Food aid with GMO content.? The COMESA Policy aggressively promotes the wholesale proliferation of GMOs on the African continent by way of commercial plantings, commodity imports and food aid and flouts international biosafety law.

The Policy is intent on creating a clumsy, confusing, cumbersome and prohibitively exorbitant centralised regional decision making system that is utterly at odds with the provisions as set out in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and national biosafety frameworks. All of the COMESA member states have ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Almost all COMESA member states have developed their own National Biosafety Frameworks (NBFs), indicating that decision- making concerning GMOs is to be made at the national level.

Why then the need for this harmonised Policy? If not to by pass international and national biosafety regulations requiring case by case biosafety assessments, because the biotechnology industry, agribusiness, free trade proponents and the food aid industry are

ACB?s objection to Dow?s application for field trials: MON 89034 x TC 1507 x MON NK603

The ACB has submitted an objection to an application by Dow Agro-sciences to conduct a field trial of the stacked GM maize event MON 89034 x TC 1507 x MON NK603. Most of the information required for an independent assessment has been omitted on the grounds that it is ?confidential business information?. What information has been provided is woefully inadequate, relies on discredited scientific principles, such as substantial equivalence, and makes broad claims of environmental and socio-economic ?benefits? without reference to any peer-reviewed studies.

The ACB believes that Dow?s application has failed to adequately show that MON89034 x 1507 x NK603 is safe for human, animal and environmental health, and should therefore be rejected by the Executive Council. The submission has been endorsed by the Southern Cape Land Committee.

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