Tag Archive: EC

ACB to battle SA Govt., Monsanto over controversial GM ‘drought tolerant’ maize

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has on 7th August 2015, lodged an appeal to Agriculture, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Senzeni Zokwana, against the general release approval of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) maize, MON87460 granted by the Executive Council (EC): GMO Act. Such approval means that Monsanto can sell the GM maize seed, MON87460, to farmers in South Africa for cultivation.
MON87460 is alleged to be ‘drought tolerant;’ a claim the ACB vehemently disputes.
Administrative justice, procedural fairness and sound science to the test
The appeal is a test for administrative justice and procedural fairness in regard to GM decision-making in South Africa. Administrative decision-making must be based on rigorous food safety, environmental and socio-economic assessments of the potential adverse effects of MON87460, taking into international biosafety best practice.
According to the ACB, the EC’s approval is typical of GM decision-making, which simply reiterates and summarises information provided by Monsanto, who has a clear vested interest in the approval.  Such “rubber stamping” is unlawful. The EC is under a legal obligation to apply a risk averse and cautious approach, which takes into account uncertainties and the limits of current knowledge about the consequences of approving MON87460 for commercial


The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) condemns the decision by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to allow GM cassava field trials to go ahead in South Africa. This despite SA‘s GMO regulatory body rejecting such trials more than three years ago. The field trials involve cassava genetically modified to control starch content.

On the 19th of March, 2007, GMO body, the Executive Council EC rejected an application by the Agriculture Research Council (ARC) to conduct field trials in the South African environment and instead, proposed experiments in greenhouses only.[i] The main ground for the rejection was the EC’s concern that the ARC had not provided sufficient information to enable an informed risk assessment to take place.

On the 18th April 2007, the ARC submitted an appeal against the decision. The ACB was invited by the EC to make submissions in respect thereto, which the ACB duly did, on the 5 October 2007. These submissions are available on the website of the ACB.

An appeal board was duly appointed by the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs and the hearing was held 8-9 October 2007. A decision of the board was apparently arrived at and

Bt-Maize GA21 / Syngenta


ObjectionsSyngentaGA21.pdf Objections To The Application Made By Syngenta Seedco In Respect Of Event Ga21 To The National Department Of Agriculture, South Africa
Mariam Mayet and Shenaz Moola, 13 September 2004

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A scientific assessment was made of the available information. The main findings are:

  • A full assessment of the scientific data could not be made because of the designation of sections of the application as Confidential Business Information
  • Genetic modification by the application of recombinant DNA technology is characterised by scientific uncertainty. This stems from several factors including the inherent imprecision of currently employed recombinant DNA techniques, the use of powerful promoter sequences in genetic constructs and the generation, as a result of genetic modification, of novel proteins to which humans and animals have never previously been exposed
  • The molecular characterisation information provided by the notifier indicates several irregularities including open reading frames and a truncated constructs which could give rise to unintended gene effects
  • The transfer of the herbicide-tolerant trait to weeds could result in increased herbicide application. The potential for economically important weeds developing herbicide tolerance is a cause for concern
  • Glyphosate use