Tag Archive: maize

Erosion of farmers’ seed and agricultural systems in Tanzania

Rice_bags

By Sabrina Masinjila and Linzi Lewis of the African Centre for Biodiversity

There are no simple answers when it comes to predicting the future of African food systems. Across the continent, the push to commercialise African agriculture to feed the growing and urbanising population, increase incomes, and reduce poverty is well known. However, this ‘solution’ is also heavily criticised for its ineffective, inappropriate and misdirected approach for Africa. It not only neglects the significant role that farmers and farmers’ seed systems have played and continue to play in maintaining agricultural biodiversity and ensuring access to seed for smallholder producers; it also criminalises and replaces this system with corporate-controlled agricultural systems. This was evident in field research we did in Tanzania in August 2017.

Our trip started in mid-August when we attended a farmer seed workshop organised by ACB in partnership with MVIWATA in Morogoro. We hoped the workshop would give policy- and decision-makers something to ponder about, regarding the current state of affairs with farmers’ local varieties. In the recent past, government has shunned farmer-managed seed systems and local varieties, but the debate in the country still rages on. It did not come as a surprise when farmers stood up

Local seed varieties are essential for sustainable food systems … but face challenges

Stephen Greenberg
4 August 2017

Smallholder farmers in Mozambique want access to a diversity of quality seed, but not exclusively from the formal sector. Farmers highly value their own varieties and want to work on enhancing these, too. These strong messages came out of a dialogue held between smallholder farmers, government officials and research institutions in Chimoio, Manica Province in central Mozambique in March 2017.

The National Farmers’ Union of Mozambique (UNAC), its provincial affiliate in Manica (UCAMA) and the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) co-hosted the dialogue to share research findings on mapping farmer seed varieties in Sussundenga, Manica and Gondola districts in Manica. Smallholder farmers – women and men – from UNAC-affiliated district farmer associations in Manica, Sofala, Zambezia and Nampula in Mozambique and from the Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmer Forum (Zimsoff) participated. They raised a number of very interesting issues and challenges in relation to maintenance and enhancement of farmer seed varieties, in dialogue with provincial and district government representatives from Manica, and with representatives from research institutions and regulators.

The issues the farmers raised, alongside researchers, breeders and officials, provide a challenge for those of us working in the seed movement. Farmers highly value their local

The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project: Real or false solution to climate change?

By Lim Li Ching, Senior Researcher, Third World Network

Climate change is an urgent challenge facing farmers in Africa. As our world warms, many farmers are already experiencing devastating consequences, including storms, drought, floods, heat waves and extreme weather events. The implications for food security are severe, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projecting that wheat, rice and maize production will be negatively impacted by local temperature increases of 2°C or more above levels in the late twentieth century. Coupled with a predicted reduction in renewable surface water and groundwater resources in most dry subtropical regions, the prospects for agriculture are grim and extremely worrying.

Into this context enters the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project. The objective of the WEMA project is to produce drought-tolerant and insect-protected maize varieties, both conventional and genetically modified (GM). According to its proponents, these varieties “will provide valuable economic, agronomic and environmental1 benefits to millions of farmers by helping them produce more reliable harvests under moderate drought conditions and better grain quality due to reduced insect damage. This will help farmers harvest enough to feed their families, a surplus which they can sell to increase their incomes, and help strengthen

APPEAL AGAINST MONSANTO’S BOGUS GM DROUGHT TOLERANT MAIZE HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR URGENT AGRICULTURE TRANSITION

17th December 2015

Starts

South Africa is in the grip of the worst drought since 1992, with many parts of the country experiencing record temperatures and little to no rain. The maize and transport industries are currently planning for a worst-case scenario, where the continent’s largest maize producer – South Africa – may potentially need to import 4 million metric tons of maize due to the prolonged drought. It is against this backdrop that the South African government has granted approval to Monsanto for it to market its wholly inadequate and over-hyped ‘climate smart’ solution to drought– genetically modified (GM) drought tolerant maize, also known as ‘MON87460.’ The controversial maize was developed under the auspices of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) funded project called Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), currently operating in five African countries and aimed at ‘benefitting’ smallholder farmers.

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has consistently opposed MON87460 as unproven, unsafe and inappropriate for resource-poor smallholders. The organisation has formally appealed against its approval for commercial cultivation in South Africa. The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Senzeni Zokwana, has advised the ACB on the 15th December 2015 that he has established an Appeal Board to

#GlyphosateMustFall

glyphosate-mustfall

The South African government needs to ban the use of glyphosate in our food system with immediate effect.

Glyphosate (most commonly known as RoundUp) is the most widely used herbicide in South Africa and its use has increased dramatically since the introduction of genetically modified maize, soya and cotton that has been engineered to survive being drenched with it. Glyphosate is also extensively used in wheat, viticulture, sugarcane and the timber industries.

The International Agency for Research into Cancer (IARC), which falls under the World Health Organisation (WHO), has recently classified glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen”; its continued use poses unacceptable risks to our health, the health of our families, farmers, farmers’ families, farm workers and society.

Please sign this petition and share it widely to demand a ban on glyphosate in our food system and to demand a commitment from government to transform our corporate controlled, chemical-laden food systems to a socially just agro-ecological food system.

Appeal Board rejects GM potatoes for South Africa

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) welcomes the recent decision made by the Minister of Agriculture, Water Affairs and Fisheries and an Appeal Board rejecting the commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) potatoes in South Africa.

The ACB with the support of the South African public, vigorously campaigned over a number of years against the Agricultural Research Council (ARC’s) bid to bring GM potatoes, also known as “SpuntaG2,” to the South African market. The potatoes were genetically engineered to produce a toxin to kill the potato tuber moth. The ACB has always contended that the GM potato posed unacceptable risks to human and animal health, the environment and the farming community. GM Regulators in SA, the Executive Council: GMO Act, agreed and rejected ARC’s application in 2009, citing a long list of biosafety, health and socio-economic concerns. These were challenged by the ARC in an appeal, which they have now definitively lost.

Executive Director of ACB, Mariam Mayet said, “we have waited several long years for this decision and are extremely pleased that smallholder farmers will not be saddled with this unwanted and risky technology”. The research into the “SpuntaG2” potatoes was bankrolled by the United States Agency for International Development

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

African civil society slams Monsanto junk GM maize deal

African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO), União Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC), Kenya Biodiversity Coalition (KBioC), Kenya Food Rights Alliance (KeFRA), Eastern and Southern African Small-Scale Farmers Forum Uganda (ESAFF, Uganda)

Non-governmental and farmer organisations from South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda strongly condemn the go-ahead given by the South African GMO authorities for Monsanto to commercially sell its genetically modified (GM) “drought tolerant” maize seed for cultivation in South Africa. According to the groups, there is no evidence showing that the drought tolerant trait even works. According to Mariam Mayet of the ACB, “the GM maize (MON87460) has not undergone proper risk assessment anywhere in the world and has no history of safe use. South Africans who are already being force-fed with old risky GM traits will now be subject to an utterly new foreign, untested and risky transgene in their daily food.”

MON 87460 stems from of a Monsanto/Gates Foundation project, Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA). Other key project partners include the Howard Buffet Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT). The project is being implemented in South Africa, Kenya, Uganda,

White men meet in London to plot ways of profiting off Africa’s seed systems

White men meet in London to plot ways of profiting off Africa’s seed systems

A meeting is to be held in London on 23 March by predominantly white men with a sprinkling of Africans, some of whom represent private seed companies, to discuss how to make a killing off Africa?s seed systems.

Farmers and civil society organisations have not been invited to the meeting, which will be attended only by private seed companies, donors, representatives from Africa?s regional economic communities, research centres and multinational development organisations.

The meeting will discuss a study produced by Monitor-Deloitte, commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and USAID. BMGF is a big sponsor of the commercialisation of agriculture in Africa, including through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Working with USAID, this commercial agenda extends US foreign policy into Africa and threatens the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers who rely on recycling seed for their livelihoods.

The goal of the Deloitte study is to develop models for commercialisation of seed production in Africa, especially on early generation seed (EGS), and to identify ways in which the African public sector could facilitate private involvement in African seed systems. The

US FORCE FEEDS GM CROPS TO AFRICAN NATIONS, SAYS NEW REPORT

Friends of the Earth International

 

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, 23 February, 2015 ? US agencies, funders such as the Gates Foundation, and agribusiness giant Monsanto are trying to force unwilling African nations to accept expensive and insufficiently tested Genetically Modified (GM) foods and crops, according to a new report released today. [1]

?The US, the world’s top producer of GM crops, is seeking new markets for American GM crops in Africa. The US administration’s strategy consists of assisting African nations to produce biosafety laws that promote agribusiness interests instead of protecting Africans from the potential threats of GM crops,? said Haidee Swanby from the African Centre for Biosafety, which authored the report commissioned by Friends of the Earth International.

The new report also exposes how agribusiness giant Monsanto influences biosafety legislation in African countries, gains regulatory approval for its product, and clears the path for products such as GM maize (corn).

Only four African countries -South Africa, Egypt, Burkina Faso and Sudan- have released GM crops commercially but the issue of genetically modified maize is deeply controversial, given that maize is the staple food of millions of Africans.

Unlike Europe and other regions where strong biosafety laws have been