Tag Archive: South Africa

FOOD FASCISM IN SOUTH AFRICA: TIGER BRANDS, PIONEER AND PREMIER FORCE FEEDING THE NATION RISKY GM MAIZE

The ACB has today, released test results on the most extensively consumed maize brands in South Africa, which indicate that the entire maize supply is utterly saturated with GM maize. ?The majority of South Africans are not only eating GM maize without their knowledge and consent but have no choice or alternative whatsoever even if the products were correctly labelled. This is totally undemocratic and unacceptable. It smacks of outright food fascism? said Mariam Mayet, Director of the African Centre for Biosafety.

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Civil Society Calls for PUBLIC Parliamentary Hearings on Genetically Modified Food

On the 6th of August 2012, the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), supported by 18 health professionals, more than 7000 individuals, 22 organisations and the Honourable Cheryllyn Dudley of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), submitted a petition to the National Assembly. The petition called for a review of the government decision to allow the import of “agent orange” maize, a review of GMO risk assessment procedures and an open, public hearing on GMOs.

Over the past year, those who signed this petition have repeatedly called on the ACB for progress on this issue. Since we have had no response from government we opened up the signatures again and prepared this follow-up text to be handed in to Parliament on the 13th September 2013, together with new signatures, now totaling 10 000.

We have noted with great concern that the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ briefing on the 13th September 2013 on GM food in South Africa only includes presentations from government departments and excludes representatives from civil society, health professionals and scientists.

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Open letter to the National Chamber of Milling on GMO labelling and the development of a GM-Free market

In July 2012 the National Chamber of Milling (NCM) posted a ?position on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) on its website, in which it supports the principle of consumer choice and pledges to ?encourage identity preservation within the grain supply chain to enable clear labelling of our product to the consumer market?.

However, the biotech industry lobby group AfricaBio, who have lobbied vociferously against the labelling of GM food in South Africa, has also claimed to have ?forged a strategic partnership with the NCM? to engage with government on the GM labelling issues. That being the case, the ACB has written an open letter to the NCM asking for clarification of its relationship with AfricaBio, to push for a stringent and accurate labelling and identity preservation system (including establishing GM free maize and soya chains) and supporting the independent, long term and transparent risk assessment of GMOs in South Africa.

2012 Tests

2013 Tests

FutureLife:

100% GM Maize, 37% GM Soya

Purity’s Cream of Maize: 56% GM maize

Purity Baby First: 71% GM maize

Bokomo Wheat free Pronutro:

90% GM maize, 71% GM soya

Ace supermaize meal: 78% GM maize
Ace maize rice: 70% GM maize
Ace instant porridge:

Comments by the African Centre for Biosafety on SA?s Plant Improvement Bill

According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (UNFAO), over the course of the 20th century, 75% of the world?s plant genetic diversity was lost, as local varieties and land races have been replaced with genetically uniform seed. A similar process in animal husbandry has put 53% of all livestock breeds at risk of extinction. At the turn of the 21st century, 12 plant and five animal species generated three quarters of the world?s food. This is no accident, but the result of a very particular system of food production that demands uniformity and yield, over diversity and nutrition and where vast monocultures can be grown, harvested, processed and then ?freely? traded over thousands of miles. It is a system that, by some estimates, contributes up to 57% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is also a system that, particularly in the USA and European Union, is propped up by a vast subsidy system.

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NEW SEED LEGISLATION SPELLS DISASTER FOR SMALL FARMERS IN AFRICA

Civil society organisations from the SADC region, and around the world have condemned the SADC draft Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (Plant Breeders? Rights) as spelling disaster for small farmers and food security in the region. These groups, representing millions of farmers in Africa and around the world have submitted their concerns to the SADC Secretariat. They are calling for the rejection of the Protocol and urgent consultations with farmers, farmer movements and civil society before it?s too late.

According to the groups, the Protocol is inflexible, restrictive and imposes a ?one-size-fits-all? plant variety protection (PVP) system on all SADC countries irrespective of the nature of agricultural systems, social and economic development. It is modeled after the 1991 International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991), an instrument which was developed by industrialized countries to address their own needs. UPOV 1991 grants extremely strong intellectual property right protection to plant breeders, and disallows farmers from continuing their customary practices of freely using, exchanging and selling farm-saved seeds.

According to Moses Shaha, regional chairman for the East and Southern African small-scale Farmers? Forum (ESAFF): ?The proposed legislation gives big-business breeders significant rights,

Feeding the Dragon: Durban conference to promote massive GM soya push in Africa

Durban will host the 9th World Soybean Research Conference 17-22nd February 2013, sponsored by the Ethekwini Municipality and agrochemical corporations Monsanto, Syngenta and Dupont. The theme of the conference is ?From China to Africa ? Can research close the gap between soy production and increasing global demand.?

 

According to Mariam Mayet, Director of the African Centre for Biosafety, ?The World Soybean conference is really about the promotion of mono-cultures of genetically modified (GM) soya for global export markets. This is in keeping with the current trend of external investment in African agricultural land and resources for the production of commodities for other parts of the world, with the Chinese meat industry being a key driver.

In Africa, farms of less than 2 hectares account for 70-90% of farms in most African countries, and which produce the bulk of staple food crops1. The introduction of soya plantations will disrupt food production and supply systems and have serious implications for food security and livelihoods across the continent.?

China?s economic boom has profoundly impacted on the global food system. Its total meat consumption now stands at a whopping 71 million tons! Indeed, more than a quarter of all

ACB Comments on National Strategy on Agroecology

The Department of Agriculture is in the process of developing a Strategy for Agroecology for South Africa, with the aim of achieving ?an ecologically, socially and economically sustainable agro-ecology sector that contributes towards poverty alleviation, job creation, food security, economic development, climate change mitigation and adaptation?. It is not clear where the drive for this Strategy emerges from, given that South Africa did not support the findings of the IAASTD when it was up for signature in Johannesburg in 2008. However, the proposed Strategy seems to posit agroecology as another production technology, an add-on to our current system, rather than a transformation of our deeply entrenched industrial agricultural system, which is based on the privatization of agricultural resources and knowledge to deploy an environmentally destructive production system, ever at the mercy of skewed global trade relations.

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African Civil Society Statement: Call for a ban on GMOs

Download the petition for a ban on GMOs to the African Union.

 

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[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_tour interval=”0″][vc_tab title=”English” tab_id=”2e3d9241-4a0f-cl”] Introduction
We, the undersigned, members of civil society organisations from across the African continent, hereby call for an immediate and complete ban on the growing, importing and exporting of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on the African continent.

We call upon the governments of Africa to take the necessary steps to protect the health of their populations by supporting this call and commit to conducting independent and authoritative long-term food safety studies.

We also call upon the governments of Africa to take note of our additional strong objections to GMOs. These concern the patenting of life forms and privatisation of agriculture, which has led to the dependence by farmers, rural communities and indigenous people on external private and monopolistic seeds suppliers. We are also extremely concerned about the adverse impact of industrial and GM based agriculture on biodiversity and climate change. We cannot ignore the suicide epidemic of farmers in India- a direct result of farmers’ dependence on GM cotton- and the resultant increased costs and unmanageable debt.
Scientific uncertainty about food safety
During September 2012, Professor Gilles-Eric S?ralini,

Consumers win GM labelling victory

Consumers in South Africa have won a hard earned victory with regard to the labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods. Yesterday, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) published draft amendments to the regulations governing the labelling of GM food. According to the draft amendments, all locally produced and imported food containing 5% or more GM ingredients or components must be labelled as “contains genetically modified ingredients or components”. The food industry has to date, taken the view that current GM labelling laws are ambiguous and do not apply to processed food.

Mariam Mayet, Director of the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), congratulated the DTI and praised the huge role played by consumers in demanding their right to know. According to Mayet “the proposed amendments convey the clear intention of government that the food industry must now step up to the plate and label their products.”
However, Mayet expressed disappointment that labelling will only be triggered when there is 5% or more GM content. The 5% threshold is not based on any scientific measure but purely on commercial considerations.

South Africa has been growing GM crops since 1999 and consumers have been largely unaware that their staple food, maize, has

Open Letter to AGRI SA: Response to its unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of GM maize in SA

Snippet from the letter below.

The ACB read with interest an article published in the Business Day (2nd October, ‘AgriSA backs gene-modified maize’), in which you argue that the curtailment of cultivating GM maize in South Africa would lead to lower yields, higher maize prices, and an increase in the use of agricultural pesticides. You then further go on to claim that GM crops are less susceptible to pests and drought. We find these claims to be spurious, unsubstantiated and completely detached from the day to day realities of our agricultural system.

 

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