Tag Archive: Cartagena Protocol

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

GMOs have made no impact on food security in South Africa in fourteen years. ACB responds to DA position

On the 5th of September 2012 James Wilmot, Democratic Alliance MP and Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry, issued a press release claiming that poor consumers cannot benefit from the “cost savings offered by GMOs” because genetically modified (GM) foods cannot be labelled. He claimed that labelling could not be implemented without a testing facility and “without an active testing facility, the SABS cannot ensure the safety of GMOs for consumption by the general public. As a result, the Department’s interim solution has been to ban a number of GMOs until the testing facility is operational.”

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), an organisation that has campaigned rigorously on GMO labelling and related issues over the past decade, claims that James is confused. Ms. Haidee Swanby, Outreach Officer for the ACB said, “It is clear that Mr. James does not understand how GMOs are regulated in this country and has mixed up the functions of the Departments of Trade and Industry and Agriculture. He also does not realise the extent of GMOs in our food system. There is no import ban due to labelling issues; South Africa stopped importing bulk GM shipments from Argentina and Brazil in 2010 when these

Comments on COMESA’s Draft Policy on Commercial Planting, Trade and Emergency Food Aid Involving Genetically Modified Organisms.

On the 8th and 9th May 2012 COMESA held a meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, to review a draft policy on the regulation and trade of GMOs for the region. While the Biotech Industry was very well represented at the meeting, civil society was completely left out of the process. This policy is being drafted behind closed doors to suit the trade interests of the major sponsor of the Policy – the United States government. Rather than ensure the most effective biosafety procedures for the Region, this policy is crafted to create an enabling environment for the free trade of GMOs with few checks and balances. The policy poses a threat to the national sovereignty of Member States, all but excludes public participation in the decision making process on GMOs and lowers the bar when it comes to risk assessments.

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This document is endorsed by:

African Civil Society calls on the African Union to ban genetically modified crops

An urgent appeal has been made to the African Union (AU) to discuss a ban on the cultivation, import and export of genetically modified (GM) crops in Africa at the next AU summit, to be held in January 2013. An African Civil Society Statement, signed by over 400 African organisations representing small-scale farmers, faith-based organisations, social movements, non-governmental organisations, organic producers, consumers, business people and ordinary citizens, has been sent to the Permanent Representative Council (PRC) of the AU. The statement was supported by a substantive document detailing the failure of GM technology to deliver any of its promised benefits since its global introduction some 16 years ago.

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The group pointed to a dire lack of safety data on GM foods and condemned the patenting of life and the privatisation of agriculture that is threatening to dispossess African food producers of control over their production systems. They have requested that African leaders address the issue at next year?s Summit, themed ?Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance?.

According to Ms. Elizabeth Mpofo, Chairperson of the East and Southern African Farmers Forum (ESAFF) and member of La Via Campesina, ?corporate-owned, genetically modified seed won?t solve any of our problems.

Biosafety Protocol: Ten years on and lagging far behind

Biosafety Protocol: Ten years on and lagging far behind

Mariam Mayet attended COP MOP 5 in Nagoya Japan. Indeed, she has been following the Biosafety Protocol discussions since 1999. In this brief, she argues that the Biosafety Protocol lags far behind the biosafety challenges faced by developing countries such as South Africa. She also expresses deep disappointment with the loss of a international civil liability regime for GMOs. In its place, Parties to the Biosafety Protocol have adopted the Nagoya Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a set of administrative measures for clean up by the state/responsible persons in the event of damage being caused to biodiversity.

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ACB condemnation for Comesa’s draconian free trade policy on GMOs

“The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has been handed a document of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)i titled ‘Draft Policy Statements and Guidelines for commercial plantings of GMOs, Trade in GMOs and Emergency Food aid with GMO content.” The Policy intends to undermine and displace more than a decade’s worth of international, regional and national biosafety policies and legislation by usurping the policy space of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Biosafety Protocol), regional policies on food aid and the sovereign rights of COMESA member states.

The Policy is due to be tabled at a COMESA meeting 12-17 July 2010 in Zambia.

According to ACB director Mariam Mayet “The Policy adopts an aggressive approach to the wholesale proliferation of GMOs on the African continent through a free trade agenda designed to create markets for commercial farmers in the US and South Africa.”

A small group of experts closely aligned to the biotechnology, seed and agrochemical industry, including those from South Africa has drafted the Policy behind closed doors. Stakeholders, particularly African small-scale farmers have been utterly excluded from the process, despite the fact that the Policy will have a major

Comments on COMESA’s Draft Policy on GMOs

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) was very recently handed a copy of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa‘s (COMESA) ‘Draft policy statements and guidelines for commercial planting of GMOs, Trade in GMOs and Emergency Food aid with GMO content’. Having perused the policy we are alarmed and outraged that COMESA appears to support the undermining and displacing of more than a decade’s worth of international, regional and national biosafety policies and legislation. It is the ACB‘s opinion that a small group of experts closely aligned to the Biotechnology, seed and agrochemical industry, frustrated by the lack of GMO adoption in African markets, drafted the policy behind closed doors. Stakeholders whose interests will be adversely affected by the far reaching proposals within the policy have been completely excluded from the process.

Further, it seeks to usurp the biosafety policy space of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (the pre-eminent international treaty on the cross border movement of GMOs), regional policies on food aid and the sovereign rights of COMESA member states. We implore COMESA members to reject the policy out of hand at their next meeting, scheduled to take place from the 12th

Letter to Minister of Agriculture regarding South Africa’s non-compliance with information sharing requirements of the Cartagena Protocol. 6 July 2010

This is our third appeal to the Minister of Agriculture to comply with obligations under the Cartagena Protocol. This document lays out our concerns to the Minister and details the minimum requirements for information on GMOs that must be posted to the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) according to the Protocol. It highlights the shortfalls in the South African information posted to date and includes an overview of GMO permits issued in South Africa since 2003.

In terms of the Cartagena Protocol, to which South Africa became a party in 2003, the South African government is obliged to provide open access to state-held information about GMOs. The Protocol obliges its Parties to post information regarding GMOs to the international Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) to ensure transparency and information sharing with the international community and South African citizens. The minimum required information to be posted to the BCH is also incorporated in the South African Geneticallly Modified Organisms Act (1997) Regulations of 26 February 2010, which obliges the GMO registrar to communicate this information to the BCH. However, to date, this minimum required information has not been posted to the international Biosafety Clearing House in contravention with international and domestic law.

ACB’s objection to Monsanto’s application for extended field trials of drought tolerant maize

In 2007 Monsanto South Africa applied for and was granted a trial release permit to conduct field trials with maize event MON87460, which has been genetically engineered for drought tolerance. Earlier this year the African Centre for Biosafety objected to a Monsanto application to import 35 hybrids for the continuation of these trials. Monsanto submitted a response to some of our concerns to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, which we have been able to view. Monsanto’s response, and its latest application still leaves much cause for concern.

We reiterate Monsanto’s own expressions of doubt as to potential yield benefits of MON87460, and ask again how these meagre benefits can be justified when considering the considerable risk that the MON87460’s introduction into the environment would entail?

Information crucial to a thorough and independent assessment of the transgenic event is again missing, kept out of the public realm under the dubious moniker of being ‘confidential business information’. As such, their application is littered with claims of yield performance and apparent safety which cannot be corroborated.

The consultation process is not sufficiently long enough to enable full and meaningful public participation. The fact that the South African regulatory authorities have failed

Scottish Parliament Motion on GM entry refusal, Kenya, South Africa

*S3M-6119 Bill Wilson: Biodiversity Coalition Opposes GM Contamination. That the Parliament notes reports that 40,000 tons of genetically modified (GM) maize from South Africa have been refused entry to Kenya as a result of protests led by the Kenya Biodiversity

Further notes, with reference to motion S3M-05873 by Bill Wilson.

Who Benefits from GM Crops and Large-scale Agribusiness?, that Monsanto, widely condemned for what are considered to be its unscrupulous practices, is reportedly responsible for three of the four varieties of maize in the shipment; agrees with the reported comments of Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety that South Africa‘s decision to permit the export was irresponsible and that it appears that South Africa is being used as a springboard to contaminate the rest of the African continent by allowing multinationals to export from South African soil; is troubled by the South African Government’s apparent flouting of the provisions of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; disagrees strongly with the implication of a statement by the chairman of the South African parliamentary committee on agriculture, forestry and fisheries, Mlungisi Johnson, that GM crops enhance food security, and calls on the Kenyan