Tag Archive: GM

Open Letter to AGRI SA: Response to its unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of GM maize in SA

Snippet from the letter below.

The ACB read with interest an article published in the Business Day (2nd October, ‘AgriSA backs gene-modified maize’), in which you argue that the curtailment of cultivating GM maize in South Africa would lead to lower yields, higher maize prices, and an increase in the use of agricultural pesticides. You then further go on to claim that GM crops are less susceptible to pests and drought. We find these claims to be spurious, unsubstantiated and completely detached from the day to day realities of our agricultural system.


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Objections to Monsanto’s application for spate of field trials with GM drought tolerant maize, September 2012

Field trials with MON 87460 are currently underway in South Africa at Hopetown, Orania, Pretoria, Lutzville and Delareyville.

These field trials form part of a larger initiative under the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project, a public-private partnership between African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF), Monsanto, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and the South African Agricultural Research Council (ARC). A combination of conventional breeding, marker-assisted breeding and transgenics are being used to develop maize with improved drought stress tolerance. WEMA also has partnerships with the national agricultural agencies of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. According to the permit applications, “The goal of WEMA is to provide smallholder farmers in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa with access to water efficient transgenic maize hybrids, royalty free, enabling them to produce more reliable harvests”.


Rational for this application
Status of approval of Monsanto‘s drought-tolerant maize in the USA
Our main concerns
The nature of drought resistance
Other approaches to drought
The mon87460 transgenic cassette
Lack of monitoring
Socio-economic impacts
Lack of biosafety capacity in South Africa

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International Regulation

International law governing GMOs

Genetic engineering (GE), also called genetic modification (GM), is not just a modern version of the
natural breeding that we know and have practised for many thousands of years. It is a new and
totally artificial way of creating living organisms that can never occur in nature. These genetically
modified organisms (GMOs) have a life of their own; once released, they will spread and multiply
and cannot be recalled. Many scientists believe that the way of producing these GM foods is so new
that we can?t be sure of the long term impacts on our health and the environment. We don?t yet
fully understand the potential risks of growing and eating these GM foods. However, scientists have
already begun to see early warning signals of serious health and environmental problems. Therefore,
special laws are required to regulate GMOs.

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GM Soya in SA

Genetically modified soya in South Africa

It might surprise you to learn that there are very few kinds of GM crops growing in the world today ? the four major crops are soya, maize, cotton and canola. The most commonly grown GM crop is soya ? it makes up almost half of all GM crops grown around the world. This soya has been genetically engineered to survive applications of herbicides (weedkiller), the most common one being Monsanto?s ?RoundUp?. South Africa is a tiny player on the world soya market, but has completely adopted GM soya production.

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GM Maize in SA

Genetically modified maize in South Africa

Genetically modified (GM) maize is big business globally. In 2011, farmers grew about 51 million hectares of GM maize.
Most of this production happened in the United States where the majority of GM crops are being grown. There are just four major GM crops grown in the world today and maize and soya make up the bulk of these. We have been told that GM crops are the answer to world hunger but the majority of this maize is not grown for food. It is grown mostly for animal feed and shipped around the world by massive agricultural commodity trading companies such as Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Bunge. These grain trading companies are some of the wealthiest corporations in the world. In 2010, these three companies together earned about 200 billion US dollars from trading maize, soya and other grain crops on the global market. Makes you wonder, do GM crops feed hungry people or hungry corporations?

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SA Labelling

Labelling of genetically modified food in South Africa

Food labelling ? your ?right to know? It is a consumers? right to know what is in their food and to make informed choices about what they
eat. Yet, South Africans have been eating genetically modified (GM) food for more than a decade without their knowledge or consent. The producers of genetically modified (GM) foods say that these foods are perfectly safe, but many scientists disagree and consumers do not want to take the risk. About 40 countries in the world label GM foods or have banned them altogether.

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Who benefits?

Genetically modified crops in South Africa: a failure for farmers

Anybody who has heard of genetically modified (GM) crops has also heard that we in Africa must accept them or face starvation. The primary message is that GM crops have been developed for the poor and hungry. This is a highly emotional argument put forward by the companies that develop GM technology. However, when we look into the past two decades of GM crop production we find that GM technology benefits the developers of GM technology, while farmers and society pay the price.

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GM Myths

What you should know about GM crops

Myths are based on false promises and deception, against actual reality and genuine concerns. The biotechnology industry has spread a lot of myths about what GMOs can do. These are not based on fact and have been shown to be false in reality.

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What is a GM crop?

An introduction to GM seeds: why they?re so different to what we know

What is genetic modification (GM)?

Genetically modified (GM) seeds have been created in a laboratory. The process of creating them is completely new and does not happen in nature. Since farming began people have worked with nature to breed plants and animals to suit human needs. Usually this breeding can only happen within the same ?species? or family. Fornexample, we breed a tomato with a tomato but we cannot breed a tomato with maize or with a pig. In the last 30 years scientists have used genetic engineering (GE) techniques, also known as genetic modification, to create plants and animals with novel (new and unique) characteristics. In genetic engineering, the ?genes? responsible for a specific characteristic (called traits) are taken from one organism and forced into the DNA of another organism. In this way the characteristics of one species can be unnaturally bred into a completely unrelated one ? across the boundaries between species and even plant and animal kingdoms. The resulting new species is called a genetically modified organism (GMO). Genetic modification allows scientists to mix the genes of unrelated species.

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