Tag Archive: Pannar Seed

The Pioneer/Pannar seed merger: deepening structural inequalities in South Africa


In this briefing, we deal with the Pioneer/Pannar seed merger, outlining the evidence led by the ACB in opposing the merger, what is at stake for South Africa if the merger is approved and the extent to which the merger will deepen structural imbalances in the South African economy.

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Smallholder farmers and consumers to pay the price for corporate seed merger

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) learned today that US multi-national seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred has been granted permission by the Competition Appeal Court, to acquire the nation’s last major independent seed company, Pannar seed. The ACB was an intervening party, opposing the merger in the public interest.

In granting the merger, the court has not only ensured the further consolidation of private ownership over our seed systems, but crucially, it has sanctioned the concentration of germplasm in the hands of a small number of multinational corporations. This will exacerbate the existing situation whereby farmers are becoming irreversibly disconnected from breeding processes and converted into mere consumers of what they originally collectively produced.

A key issue in the merger is Pioneer’s fervent desire to take control of locally adapted germplasm that Pannar holds – germplasm that existed and was used in Africa long before Pioneer or Pannar existed.

One of the conditions of the merger is a R20 million fund to “increase the productivity, knowledge and welfare of small-scale and developing farmers”. But this is no more than public relations. “As long as smallholders themselves are only passive recipients of largesse from the corporations, and the companies determine

South Africa’s Seed Systems: Challenges for food sovereignty

The African Centre for Biosafety and Trust for Community Outreach and Education, have the pleasure of sharing with you, our new study, which provides an overview of the structure of the seed system in South Africa, the types of seed in use and their pros and cons, the legislative and policy environment, and the role of the public sector in seed production and distribution in South Africa. It aims to identify the trends in the seed sector and consider possible points of intervention to advance the agenda of strengthening small-scale resource-poor farmers in control over and access to appropriate seed for seed sovereignty, which sits at the heart of food sovereignty.

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Hazardous Harvest: Genetically Modified Crops in South Africa: 2008-2012

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.

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ACB applauds tribunal decision to prohibit Pioneer Hi Bred and Pannar seed merger

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) applauds today’s decision of the Competition Tribunal (Tribunal) to prohibit the seed merger between multinational seed company Pioneer Hi Bred, and South Africa‘s largest seed company, Pannar Seed.

During December 2010, the Competition Commission prohibited the merger and the merging parties referred the Commission’s decision to the Tribunal for reconsideration. After a three- week- long hearing, the Tribunal has decided to similarly prohibit the merger. Reasons for the decision is still forthcoming and no further information is at this stage available.

The ACB was granted leave by the Tribunal on the 19th August 2011, to intervene in the merger proceedings on public interest grounds, particularly with regard to the effect the merger would have on small scale farmers. This was itself precedent setting in that it was the first time the Tribunal had allowed NGOs to intervene in merger proceedings.

The ACB has in fact been involved in the merger proceedings since October 2010. The ACB participated in the proceedings and led the expert evidence of an agricultural economist working directly with small- holder farmers, who outlined the devastating impacts the merger would have on small-holder farmers and food security.




Johannesburg, Sunday 21st August 2011

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) welcomes the decision made by the Competition Tribunal on 19 August 2011, to allow the ACB to intervene in the merger proceedings involving multinational seed giant, Pioneer Hi Bred’s bid to take over South Africa‘s largest seed company, Panaar. The ACB, represented by Legal Aid South Africa, and advocates Stephen Budlender and Isabel Goodman, has consistently sought to lead evidence and present argument on public interest grounds that militate against authorisation of the merger.

The ACB argued in its intervention application heard before the Tribunal on the 12th August 2011, that the proposed merger would result in the concentration of market share in the maize seed industry in only two large commercial entities, namely Pioneer and Monsanto with concomitant negative consequences for small holder farmers and consumers. Such concentration, the ACB argued, would lead effectively to the creation of a duopoly with dire consequences for food security of the country in particular and the region as a whole as well as on the viability of small scale farmers. The ACB is extremely grateful for

Label GM Food: Our Right to Know

Attention: News Editors
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) and the South African Freeze Alliance on Genetic Engineering (SAFEAGE) have launched a nation-wide ‘Label GM Food: Our Right to Know’ campaign, to encourage the government to provide meaningful labelling for all genetically-modified (GM) foods in regulations under the Consumer Protection Act.

The latest draft regulations on GM food published by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are wholly inadequate and unsatisfactory, since it fails to protect the citizens’ ‘freedom of choice’ of what they eat. The groups argue that the scope of the regulations shortsightedly only apply to 3 GM food types, namely, maize, soyabean and imported canola oil and exclude new approvals of GMOs such as GM potatoes and GM salmon that may come to the South African market in the future.

The regulations also allow companies to avoid labelling products where the GM ingredient in a food product contains less than 5% of GM content. ?A 5% threshold not only denies us ?Our Right To Know?, but is misleading. Consumers will be under the false impression that food

Competition Commission rejects Pioneer Hi Bred seed takeover

Media Advisory from the African Centre for Biosafety
Johannesburg, 8th December 2010.

The African Centre for Biosafety applauds the decision of the Competition Commission not to approve the take-over of Pannar Seed, South Africa‘s largest seed company, by the multinational corporation and seed giant, Pioneer Hi-Bred, a subsidiary of the DuPont chemical company.

The ACB has been monitoring the proposed merger since it was first announced in September 2010, and has made multiple submissions to the Commission opposing the merger.

The decision is a significant one as it keeps over 50 years of plant breeding experience and expertise in South African hands and puts the brakes on increased corporate concentration within the South African agricultural seed sector.

The ACB urges the Competition Commission to fully investigate the inordinately powerful and dominant position that Monsanto occupies in South Africa‘s agricultural markets.

Mariam Mayet

To view ACB’s submissions, please see www.biosafetyafrica.org.za

Opposition to Pioneer Hi Bred’s merger with Pannar, submitted to Competitions Commission

As a stakeholder, the ACB was requested by the Competition Commission to make written comments on the proposed merger between Pioneer Hi Bred and Pannar, which we submitted to the Commission on the 21st of October, 2010.
In this submission, we raise the following further pertinent issues:

  • The current prevailing seed systems in South Africa, how these have changed over time, and what the implications of these changes are;
  • The breadth and importance of the breeding and research work carried out by Pannar seed in South Africa;
  • Some alternative suggestions to ensure the fruits of Pannar’s research can be preserved for the public and national good.

We provide in several annexes, the seeds under the control of Pannar.


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JENNIFER THOMSON’S GM Virus Resistant Maize

December 2009

During 2007, researchers from the University of Cape Town (UCT), particularly Professor Jennifer Thompson, in collaboration with Pannar seed South Africa, announced that they had developed transgene-derived resistance to the pathogen Maize-Streak-Virus (MSV). They also claimed to have developed the first maize with transgenic MSV resistance, heralding the first all-African produced genetically modified crop plant.[i] The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) investigated these claims and in a briefing paper titled, ?The UCT/Pannar genetically engineered maize resistant to maize streak virus?[ii] we raised a number of serious biosafety concerns and exposed the project as one still in its extreme infancy. Correspondence at the time between the ACB and Dionne Shepherd, the lead researcher from the department of molecular biology UCT, revealed that her research team were still at a stage of attempting to obtain a single copy of the transgene event in order to proceed to field trials.[iii] Two years have passed since these highly premature announcements, and yet the researchers continue to be light years away from the field trial-let alone commercial stage. Recent ACB correspondence with Dionne Shepherd reveals that the research team are currently still testing some 200 odd genes exhibiting resistance, in