Tag Archive: Monsanto South Africa

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

ACB’s objection to Monsanto’s application for extended field trials of drought tolerant maize

In 2007 Monsanto South Africa applied for and was granted a trial release permit to conduct field trials with maize event MON87460, which has been genetically engineered for drought tolerance. Earlier this year the African Centre for Biosafety objected to a Monsanto application to import 35 hybrids for the continuation of these trials. Monsanto submitted a response to some of our concerns to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, which we have been able to view. Monsanto’s response, and its latest application still leaves much cause for concern.

We reiterate Monsanto’s own expressions of doubt as to potential yield benefits of MON87460, and ask again how these meagre benefits can be justified when considering the considerable risk that the MON87460’s introduction into the environment would entail?

Information crucial to a thorough and independent assessment of the transgenic event is again missing, kept out of the public realm under the dubious moniker of being ‘confidential business information’. As such, their application is littered with claims of yield performance and apparent safety which cannot be corroborated.

The consultation process is not sufficiently long enough to enable full and meaningful public participation. The fact that the South African regulatory authorities have failed

BT-Maize MON863 and MON863 X MON810 / Monsanto

SUBMISSION OF OBJECTIONS BY THE AFRICAN CENTRE FOR BIOSAFETY (ACB)
  • Objections to the Application Made by Monsanto South Africa for a Commodity Import Permit of Grain for Feed and Food Purposes that may Contain Maize Grains Derived From Insect-Protected Maize Line Mon863 and Maize Hybrids Mon863 X Mon810
    Mariam Mayet and Shenaz Moola, August 2004
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  • CoverLetter_Mon830X810.pdf Cover Letter to the Registrar
    August 2004
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OVERVIEW
SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIONS

A scientific assessment was made of the available information. The main findings of this assessment, which are discussed in greater detail later in the document, are:

  • A full assessment of the scientific data could not be made because of the designation of large sections of this data as Confidential Business Information
  • The molecular characterisation information provided by the notifier indicates several irregularities including open reading frames, a missing stop codon and truncated constructs which could give rise to unintended gene effects
  • There is evidence of structural instability arising out of the use of the 35S CaMV promoter and there is a call for the discontinuation of the use of this genetic element in the development of transgenic plants
  • The protocols for assessing gene expression in transgenic plants are