Tag Archive: Scientific Objections

WEMA Project shrouded in secrecy: open letter to African governments to be accountable to farmers, civil society

Sign our Open Letter

 

The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project promises to develop drought tolerance in maize for the benefit of small holder farmers, but is really a project designed to facilitate the spread of hybrid and genetically modified (GM) maize varieties on the continent.
WEMA involves five African countries: Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. It works through the National Agricultural Research (NAR) agencies of these countries, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT)
and Monsanto. The project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Secrecy
There is a great deal of secrecy that surrounds the WEMA project. The AATF (the so-called ‘not for profit’ organisation that coordinates WEMA) exercises extremely tight control over any information related to WEMA and has prevented researchers from speaking to WEMA partners, including the NARs. Information relating to performance and quality control is notably absent from the WEMA website. The NARs are public research institutions and are accountable to the public, especially in regard to the use of public goods under their control, such as germplasm, institutional resources and capacities. They are under constitutional and

Objection to Monsanto’s application for commodity clearance for MON 89034 x MON 88017

This submission by Monsanto makes a joke of biosafety risk assessment in that it is not based on the actual event under consideration, but rather, the applicant posits claim of lack of harm, toxicity, and allergenicity based on data carried out on other lines containing the same transgene/event. This violates the case by case approach to GMO risk assessment enshrined in the GMO Act 1997. It also lacks sufficient scientific data to support claims of safety and this is exacerbated by lack of peer reviewed information on this event. In addition, the applicant has not considered the health impacts of the herbicide to which this event is engineered to tolerate. Furthermore, approval of this commodity import is likely to significantly impact upon commercial and emerging maize producers, and could have further impacts along the value chain. There are other issues affecting animal feed producers and consumers (the continuation of cheap chicken imports from the EU, for example), the resolution of which would do more to strengthen South Africa?s agricultural sector. It is the opinion of the ACB that this application should be rejected on both biosafety and socio-economic grounds.

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ACB?s objection to Dow?s application for field trials: MON 89034 x TC 1507 x MON NK603

The ACB has submitted an objection to an application by Dow Agro-sciences to conduct a field trial of the stacked GM maize event MON 89034 x TC 1507 x MON NK603. Most of the information required for an independent assessment has been omitted on the grounds that it is ?confidential business information?. What information has been provided is woefully inadequate, relies on discredited scientific principles, such as substantial equivalence, and makes broad claims of environmental and socio-economic ?benefits? without reference to any peer-reviewed studies.

The ACB believes that Dow?s application has failed to adequately show that MON89034 x 1507 x NK603 is safe for human, animal and environmental health, and should therefore be rejected by the Executive Council. The submission has been endorsed by the Southern Cape Land Committee.

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Independent scientific biosafety assessment of the application for commodity clearance of transgenic soybean, DAS-68416-4

This is ACB’s objection to the application by Dow Chemicals for approval for import into SA of its GM soyabean 2,4 D and glufosinate ammonium (DAS-68416-4).

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Download additional information in a briefing paper “The new generation of GM herbicide crops – poison cocktail for ailing agriculture“.

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

In 2007 Monsanto was granted a trial release permit to conduct field trials for its ‘drought tolerant’ maize event MON8746. These comments are in respect of a further extension application, submitted to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in May 2011.

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ACB objections to Pioneer Hi-Bred’s field trial applications for four new GM maize variety

Pioneer Hi-Bred, who are currently attempting to acquire South Africa‘s largest remaining seed company, Pannar Seed, have submitted applications for field trials of four GM maize varieties. These are all stacked varieties inferring varying combinations of insect resistance and herbicide tolerance. Of particular concern is that all four varieties have been engineered to be used with glufosinate, a highly toxic herbicide that is set to be banned in the European Union.

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GM Banana Slips in South Africa: Key Issues and Concerns

In this briefing we deal with the application by the University of Pretoria for permission to conduct the first ever field trials in South Africa involving GM bananas. The rationale for the genetic modification is to combat Fusarium wilt, caused by a soil born fungi Fusarium oxysporum f.sp cubense (Foc). The idea is to genetically engineer bananas with a rice gene (NPRI homolog (NH1)) to confer resistance to the said Foc. The aim of the field trial is thus to evaluate Cavendish bananas that have been transformed to express the NH1 gene for disease tolerance against Foc.

We raise critically important biosafety concerns that have been overlooked in the application.

We also review the situation with banana production globally with particular emphasis on the decline in banana production in South Africa. It is our view that GM disease resistant bananas cannot overcome the current problems being experienced, ranging from land tenure to competition from more ecologically suitable production areas such as those in Mozambique. This real issue is that the shift in the industry will mean that 24 000 on farm jobs will be lost, which is a huge concern and requires urgent government attention and intervention.

ACB’s Objection to Syngenta’s application for general release of GM maize GA21

On 13th of December 2009, Syngenta published a public notice of their intent to apply to the GMO Registrar for a permit for the general release of genetically modified maize, GA21. Having obtained a ‘non-confidential-business-information’ version of Syngenta’s application, it is our contention that the application cannot be adequately assessed. The information provided is sketchy at best, key information required for a full and thorough assessment of the event in question is designated confidential business information and therefore not made available to the very public who are expected to consume the product. Claims made regarding gene stability are by reference to information provided by the developer of the GMO and not to any independent, objective source. Additionally, assertions made as to the socio-economic benefits pertaining from a general release of GA21 are grossly misleading and do not hold up to objective scrutiny.

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In 2009 section 78 of the Biodiversity Act was amended, and now provides that:

‘…if the Minister has reason to believe that the release of a genetically modified organism into the environment under a permit applied for in terms of the Genetically Modified Organisms Act, 1997 (Act No. 15 of 1997), may pose a

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.

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Independent Biosafety Evaluation: GE SAAVI MVA-C HIV Vaccine

The African Centre for Biosafety is a non-profit, activist NGO based in South Africa, focussing on biopolitics, including inter alia, biosafety, biopiracy, biofuels and challenging industrial agriculture models in Africa and the commodification of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.

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