After 5 seasons of genetically modified (GM) cotton cultivation in Burkina Faso farmers are denouncing their contracts with Monsanto and cotton stakeholders are discussing compensation for losses incurred since 2008 due to low yields and low quality fibre. Many other African governments are poised to follow suit but should note how GM cotton has impoverished smallholders in South Africa and Burkina Faso as well as heed the fierce opposition on the continent toward accepting it.
Apres cinq saisons de culture de coton génétiquement modifié (GM) au Burkina Faso, les exploitants dénoncent leurs contrats avec Monsanto et les acteurs de la filière coton discutent actuellement des indemnités qu’ils comptent demander pour les pertes essuyées depuis 2008, en raison de faibles rendements et d’une fibre de mauvaise qualité. De nombreux pays africains sont sur le point de faire de même mais devraient prendre note de combien le coton GM a appauvri les petits exploitants en Afrique du Sud et au Burkina Faso. Ils devraient également tenir compte de l’opposition féroce au coton transgénique sur le continent avant de l’accepter sur leurs terres.
In this publication, we provide a comprehensive update of the situation with GMOs in SA. Since our last South African update on genetically modified crops, and the transnational companies that control the technology published in 2008, GMOs have become even more entrenched in the country’s agricultural landscape. Over three quarters of South Africa’s maize is now GM, Roundup Ready soybean cultivation has increased nearly fourfold. If Pioneer Hi-Bred’s acquisition of Pannar seed is accepted, we are about to relinquish all control over our seed system to two US multinational corporations. During 2010 and 2011, nearly 6 million tons of GM maize was exported to destinations in Africa and Mexico, the centre of origin of maize.
On the 9 March 2012, the chief lobbyist for the biotech industry, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), presented findings from its latest annual report to the media in Pretoria, South Africa. The ISAAA proudly proclaimed another boom year for genetically modified (GM) crops in South Africa and claimed that the benefit of GM crops is widespread and widely shared.
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) vehemently disputes that GM crops have benefitted farmers and consumers in South Africa. GM crops have done nothing to bring about food security or curtail the escalating costs of food in South Africa. Between January 2008 and January 2012, the cost of a 5kg bag super maize meal increased by a staggering 83%. In 2007, the poorest 30% of the population spent approximately 22% of their monthly income on food, including on maize-a staple. The latest figures from January 2012 put this at nearly 39%.
According to Mariam Mayet, Director of the ACB, “the beneficiaries of GM crops remain the multinational biotechnology companies themselves. Monsanto controls around 50% of the maize seed market in South Africa, and its maize seed revenues from
Genetically modified cotton in South Africa
The biotechnology industry has really tried to win small-scale farmers over to genetically modified (GM) cotton, especially in Africa and Asia. Getting cotton approved in a country is a good way for the industry to pave the way for the entry of the GM food crops. It is estimated that farmers around the globe planted about 21 million hectares of GM cotton in 2011. According to the biotechnology industry, about 15 million peasant farmers planted pest resistant Bt cotton last year, mostly in India. They also claim that South Africa is one of the countries in the global South where cotton has ?made a significant contribution? to improving smallholder livelihoods. They say that the adoption of GM cotton by small-scale farmers is a success story, however reports from the ground tell of social upheaval, heavy debts, poor quality produce and environmental and health problems.
Monsanto is a globally dominant company in the agrochemical, seed and agricultural biotechnology sector. It has been active in the agrochemicals market in South Africa since 1968, and now owns almost all traits used in the South African GM crop market. Thanks to the purchase of local seed companies, Sensako and Carnia, in the late 1990s the multinational now accounts for an estimated 40% of the grain seed market in South Africa.
From January 2007 to July 2008 the GMO Executive Council, the governmental body responsible for granting GMO permits in South Africa, granted a taggering 425 new permits for import, export, commodity clearance and general and trial release. The vast majority of these permits were for commodity imports of GM maize from Argentina for use in the animal feed industry. Over 2 million metric tonnes of maize were imported into South Africa from Argentina in 2007 alone,1 for use as food, feed and processing. The frequent assertion by the pro-GM lobby that GMOs are developed to fight against hunger does not hold water. The major benefi ciaries of these permits are foreign agribusiness corporations and the majority of GM crops are used as animal feed.
GMOs Contribute Towards Food Crisis:
Objection to Monsanto’s GM Cotton Cry 1 Ac and Cry 2 Ab
This book aims to give insight into the role a public interest NGO can play, the context within which participation can happen, the breadth of GMO applications, the institutions involved, the trends developing and the tremendous range of issues that have to be grappled with.
Author: Rose Williams
Publisher: African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) www.acbio.org.za
Design and Layout: Lesley Lewis, Inspots
Support: The production and publication of this booklet has been made possible by the generous support received by EED,HIVOS and NORAD
Decoding the names of GMOsExecutive Council decisions on a selection of GMO Applications
Objections made by the ACB:
- GM Cassava
- GM Cotton
- GM Grapes
- GM HIV Vaccine
- GM Maize
- GM Maize for food
- GM Maize for biofuels
- GM Potatoes
- GM Rice
- GM Sorghum
- GM Sugar
- GM Wheat
- GM Wine Yeast