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.
Sent from the following concerned groups:
African Center on Biodiversity, South Africa (Mariam Mayet, Executive Director)
Bharatiya Krishak Samaj/Indian Farmers Association, India (Krishan Bir Chaudhary, President)
Center for Food Safety, U.S. (Debi Barker, International Director)
CNOP (Coordination Nationale des organizations Paysannes/ National Coordination of Peasant Organizations), Mali (Ibrahima Coulibaly, President)
Grassroots International, US (Nikhil Aziz, Executive Director)
Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam/Farmers Association Of Tamil Nadu, India (S.Kannaiyan, Organizer)
The Oakland Institute, US (Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director)
April 12, 2010
Mr. Jeremy Hobbs
Executive Director, Oxfam International
266 Banbury Road, Suite 20
Oxford OX2 7DL
Mr. Ray Offenheiser
President, Oxfam America
1100 15th St., NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005
United States of America
Dear Mr. Hobbs and Mr. Offenheiser:
We the undersigned, as part of the global food justice and food sovereignty movement, are writing to you to express our grave concerns with the recent position publicized by Oxfam America in support of agricultural biotechnology as a viable solution for addressing poverty faced by resource poor and subsistence farmers in developing countries. We deemed necessary to write to you not just because of a recently released book, but also because Oxfam America appears to be positioning itself
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.
The adoption of Genetically Modified (GM) cotton in South Africa‘s Makhathini Flats in 1998 was heralded as a case in which agricultural biotechnology could benefit smallholder farmers, and a model for the rest of the continent to follow. Using historical, political economic and ethnographic data, we find the initial enthusiasm around GM technology to be misguided. We argue that Makhathini’s structured institutional framework privileges adopters of GM technologies through access to credit and markets. The adoption of GM cotton is symptomatic not of farmers’ endorsement of GM technology, but a sign of the profound lack of choice facing them in the region.