Tag Archive: Michigan State University

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.

read more

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

Patents, Climate Change and African Agriculture: Dire Predictions

Uncertainty and apprehension often afford opportunity to the cunning. This is certainly the case with climate change. The multinational seed and agrochemical industry see climate change as a means by which to further penetrate African agricultural markets by rhetorically positioning itself, even if implausibly, as having the solution to widespread climate concerns. Their so-called ?final solution? to deal with the impact of climate change on African agriculture depends on mass adoption of GM seeds and chemically intensive agricultural practices. This model poses serious biosafety risks and demands the surrender of Africa‘s food sovereignty to foreign corporations and the widespread acceptance of patents on life in Africa.

Despite its obvious pitfalls, this model is being aggressively promoted by multinationals, private philanthropy and some African national agricultural research programmes, often funded by the first two. The money and public relations forces backing the seed giants threaten to drown out other voices and other possibilities for African agriculture.

In this briefing, we expose the forces behind ?climate ready? crops, including the central role played by gene giant Monsanto and provide data on patents on climate genes in respect to key African staple and other food crops.

September 2009

read more

Press Release – 10 September 2008: GM Potatoes “of no use” in South Africa

2008 has been declared ?The Year of the Potato? by the UN General Assembly in honour of the vegetable people around the world love – the humble potato. Ironically, South Africa intends it to be the year that the potato is transformed from a food, into a laboratory made pesticide. The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has been conducting field trials for several years with a GM potato called Spunta G2, genetically engineered to kill a pest called the Tuber Moth. They have given notice that they will apply to the South African GMO Council for a genera l release permit in the next few days. The first stage will see farmer participatory trials involving growing, cooking and testing trials, followed by the GM potatoes being made available for commercial growing.
read more

Objection to the commercial release of the ARC GM Potato

ACB Objection to the commercial release of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) genetically modified potato. September 2008.

read more

GM potato rejected in year of potato

The UN General Assembly has declared 2008 to be the ‘international year of the potato’. Unbeknown to the public, the South Africa government has allowed the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), supported by USAID and Michigan State University, to experiment with GM potatoes. All though South Africans on average eat 29 kilograms of potatoes a year, they have not been consulted on the prospect of yet another staple food being genetically engineered.

read more

GM Potatoes face import ban & rejection

GM potatoes rejected in Year of Potato
GM potatoes face import bans and rejection

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2008 to be the ‘International Year of the Potato’ in celebration of the potato – one of the world’s best loved foods. Yet, South Africa seems hell bent on messing with the humble potato.

Unbeknown to the public, the South African government has allowed the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), supported by USAID and Michigan State University, to experiment with GM potatoes.

read more

Hot Potato: GM Potatoes in South Africa – a critical analysis

This research is not home grown or ‘truly South African’. The ARC is part of an international consortium, which includes the Michigan State University (MSU), the International Potato Centre in Peru and gene giant, Syngenta. Syngenta has quietly been cornering the GM food potato market; lodging a stream of patents in the USA and other countries for a form of terminator (GURTS) technology that prevents potatoes from sprouting unless they are treated with chemicals supplied by the patent owner.

read more

In 2001, the South African Agricultural Research Council (ARC) began conducting field trials with potatoes genetically modified to contain a Bt gene Cry1Ia1 (formerly BtCryV). This novel gene is intended to protect the plants and potato tubers from infestations of the Potato tuber moth (Phthorimaea operculella).

Malawi – GMO Legislation


The government of Malawi published its biosafety draft regulations in The Malawi Gazette Supplement on the 13th September 2002 (“biosafety law”) at the height of the GM food aid controversy when several countries in Southern Africa imposed restrictions on the acceptance of genetically modified food aid from the United States. Malawi accepted the GM food aid, with few restrictions being imposed. At the time of writing, the writer obtained conflicting information as to whether the draft law had been promulgated. However, the writer was able to ascertain that the biosafety law, represents the current biosafety framework.

Malawi is not yet a Party to the United Nation’s Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (“Biosafety Protocol“), nor is it amongst the 123 developing countries participating in the UNEP-GEF Biosafety Capacity Building project. It was however, one of 7 “core target” countries in Southern Africa that participated in a USAID funded biosafety capacity building project, the Southern Africa Regional Biotechnology Program (SARB)”.

SARB is a sub-project of a larger United States Assistance for International Development (USAID) project, managed by the Michigan State University, Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program (ABSP). ABSP’s private sector partners include, Asgrow, Monsanto Co. Garst See Company

Objections to application for a permit for additional trials with insect resistant Bt Cry V Genetically Modified Potatoes

Objections to application for a permit for additional trials with insect resistant Bt Cry V Genetically Modified Potatoes ( Solanum Tuberosum L. Variety ?Spunta? G2 and G3 ), as applied for by Dr G. Thompson, Director Plant Protection and Biotechnology , South African Agricultural Research Council, dated 24 May 2003

read more