The South African government has readily embraced the establishment of an agrofuels industry, citing job creation, the need for clean and renewable energy and the creation of markets for small-holder farmers, as key motivators. Nevertheless, it is our view that the logic of the Biofuels Strategy to introduce large-scale, mono-crop agriculture into the former homelands especially,i and other areas of the country, will perpetuate the model of production and consumption of an industrial civilisation that has led to inequality in the world, wars, poverty, and environmental destruction.
Desperate Appeal Against Rejection of Gates Foundations’ GM Sorghum Experiments
GRAIN SA, representing commercial farmers in South Africa, is feverishly drumming up support for the appeal by the Council for Scientific and
Industrial Research (CSIR) against the rejection of its GM sorghum application.
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) hails the decision taken by the Executive Council (EC)-South Africa‘s GM regulatory body on the 30 January 2007 to turn down an application by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) to conduct experiments with genetically modified (GM) sorghum in a level three containment facility. This decision was taken against the backdrop that Africa is the centre of origin for sorghum where (including in South Africa), a large number of sexually compatible weeds, wild relatives strains and races of cultivated sorghum occur.
While the EC will make its reasons for the rejection available in due course, it previously (in June 2006) turned down a similar application when it cited environmental concerns about gene flow from transgenic sorghum to South Africa’s biodiversity.
The ACB lodged an objection to the application and raised strong concerns that GM sorghum would introgress into wild relatives. “Some activities just cannot be permitted and should be regarded as NO GO options” said Mariam Mayet, founder of the ACB.
?The risks posed by GM sorghum to sorghum wild and weedy relatives cannot be tolerated at all and the granting of a permit
Sorghum, a grass of east African origin, is said to have present as early as 8000 years ago. The timing of the emergence of the domesticated sorghum, Sorghum bicolor from the wild species progenitor is disputed with dates ranging from 3700-4900 years ago to not much
before 2000 years ago. i Four main groups can be identified within the sorghum family: grain sorghums such as milo, grass sorghums cultivated for pasture and hay, sweet sorghums (also known as Guinea corn) used in the production of sorghum syrups and broomcorn (for brooms and brushes). i Sorghum was introduced into the western hemisphere in the early sixteenth century, and is now an important crop in the United States and Mexico.