Tag Archive: Executive Council

ACB’s Objection to Syngenta’s application for general release of GM maize GA21

On 13th of December 2009, Syngenta published a public notice of their intent to apply to the GMO Registrar for a permit for the general release of genetically modified maize, GA21. Having obtained a ‘non-confidential-business-information’ version of Syngenta’s application, it is our contention that the application cannot be adequately assessed. The information provided is sketchy at best, key information required for a full and thorough assessment of the event in question is designated confidential business information and therefore not made available to the very public who are expected to consume the product. Claims made regarding gene stability are by reference to information provided by the developer of the GMO and not to any independent, objective source. Additionally, assertions made as to the socio-economic benefits pertaining from a general release of GA21 are grossly misleading and do not hold up to objective scrutiny.

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In 2009 section 78 of the Biodiversity Act was amended, and now provides that:

‘…if the Minister has reason to believe that the release of a genetically modified organism into the environment under a permit applied for in terms of the Genetically Modified Organisms Act, 1997 (Act No. 15 of 1997), may pose a

Request to approach SpungtaG2 appeals board as Amicus Curiae

At the Executive Council: GMO Act meeting of 21st July 2009, the decision was taken to deny the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) permission to release genetically modified potatoes onto the market. The decision was not published on the Department of Agriculture’s (DAFF) website until the 14th of October 2009. We are aware that the ARC has subsequently appealed the decision. The ACB requests an opportunity to represent its views during the appeals process or to approach the appeal board as Amicus Curiae (friend of the court).

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Marketing of GE potatoes in South Africa imminent: African farmers face loss of markets and consumer choice

South Africa‘s Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has developed a GE-insect resistant potato (SpuntaG2, which is a Bt potato) with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This potato now awaits safety assessment and general release approval from the national authorities.

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GM Cassava update from the African Centre for Biosafety

During 2006, the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) submitted an application to the South African GMO Authority, the Executive Council: GMO Act, for permission to conduct field trials of GM Cassava. The ACB and the international NGO, GRAIN, submitted comprehensive objections to the application on 8 September 2006, widely supported by local and international groups and individuals.

On the 19th of March, 2007, the EC rejected the application and instead, proposed that the trials take place within greenhouses as opposed to the open environment.[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 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 at www.biosafetyafrica.org.za

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 sent to the Minister, during October 2007, for final

Open Letter to Minister of Agriculture on Monsanto GM Crop Failures

In April 2009, the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) learnt that three of Monsanto‘s genetically modified (GM) maize varieties had failed to pollinate, leaving up to 200 000 hectares of mielie fields barren across several provinces. We were informed that the varieties that flopped were Monsanto‘s MON 810, NK 603 and its stacked GM maize MON 810 x NK 603. The ACB is of the view that the matter has not been dealt with sufficiently by the Executive Council, the GM regulatory body in South Africa that approved these three events in the first place, nor has the public been sufficiently informed of the EC’s final decision on the matter.

The handling of this matter has not engendered public faith in the regulation of GMOs, an already highly contentious technology. The ACB requests that the Executive Council publicise the biosafety procedures followed in reaching their final decision on the crop failures and the scientific basis upon which they have come to their decision. Public support for such an explanation is steadily growing at: http://www.activist.co.za/.

We reiterate our demands for a ban on all GMOs.

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South African Govt rejects GM potato

In a damning and ground breaking ruling, South Africa‘s GM body, the Executive Council (EC), has rejected attempts by the Agriculture Research Council (ARC) to bring GM potatoes to the South African market. The EC cited no less than 11 biosafety and socio economic and agronomic concerns for rejecting ARC‘s commercial release application. These support the objections raised by the ACB that GM potatoes pose unacceptable risks to human health, the environment and the farming community.

The ARC has touted the GM potato, engineered to resist tuber moths, as a new agricultural technology that will benefit smallholder and commercial farmers. Its five year field trial programme has chewed up considerable public funds as well as having been bankrolled by USAID and Michigan state university.

According to Haidee Swanby of the ACB, ?the precautionary decision taken by the EC concluded that ARC’s toxicology studies were inadequate, scientifically poorly designed and fundamentally flawed. It was unconvinced that the GM potato would benefit small holder farmers, who are faced with more fundamental production problems such as access to water and seed, and found that the Potato Tuber Moth is a low priority for most farmers.?

?We are elated

Objections to Syngenta’s application for commodity import of triple stacked maize

Prepared for the African Centre for Biosafety by
Dr William Stafford

  • Description of Application
  • Description of Data furnished to ACB
  • Molecular characterisation: Unintended genetic effects
  • Risks to human health and the environment
  • Compositional analysis, allergenicity and toxicity
  • Herbicide resistance, horizontal gene transfer (HGT) and gene escape
  • Lack of monitoring and compliance with legislation
  • Conclusion
  • References

August 2009

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SNAPSHOT: South Africa facing a tsunami of risky GMOs

The African Centre for Biosafety has closely monitored GMO approvals in South Africa for several years. Several far-reaching changes are currently taking place.

A wave of new GMOs are expected to flood the South African market during 2009, as the backlog of commodity import permits that have been stalled since 2005, are about to be processed. A moratorium was put in place during September/October 2005 by the GMO decision-making body, the Executive Council, at the request of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The DTI was of the opinion that GMOs are not freely traded on the international market and as such, negatively affect the price levels at which these products are traded, and argued that it needed the moratorium in order to enable it to investigate these concerns.

The DTI study is being concluded and there is every sign that the moratorium will be lifted, heralding the opening of the floodgates to a tsunami of new GMOs onto the South African market. These include GM rice and new varieties of food crops such as soya beans and maize containing multiple or ?stacked? genes which pose huge risks to human health and the environment. In addition,

Case Study: South Africa’s Traceability and Segregation systems for GM Grains

During 13-17 March 2006, the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol Biosafety (?Biosafety Protocol?) will try, after several previous unsuccessful attempts, to craft minimum standards for a global segregation, traceability and accountability system to apply to the cross border movement of bulk
shipments of genetically modified (GM) grain. The mechanisms of such a system will depend on the manner in which the Parties will ultimately resolve
the provisions relating to Article 18(2)(a) of the Biosafety Protocol. Article 18(2)(a) deals with the detailed requirements and documentation that must accompany bulk shipments of GMOs, also known in Biosafety Protocol parlance as ?living modified organisms that are exported/imported for direct
use as food, feed and processing.? (LMO FFPs).

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