Tag Archive: WEMA

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

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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

APPEAL AGAINST MONSANTO’S BOGUS GM DROUGHT TOLERANT MAIZE HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR URGENT AGRICULTURE TRANSITION

17th December 2015

Starts

South Africa is in the grip of the worst drought since 1992, with many parts of the country experiencing record temperatures and little to no rain. The maize and transport industries are currently planning for a worst-case scenario, where the continent’s largest maize producer – South Africa – may potentially need to import 4 million metric tons of maize due to the prolonged drought. It is against this backdrop that the South African government has granted approval to Monsanto for it to market its wholly inadequate and over-hyped ‘climate smart’ solution to drought– genetically modified (GM) drought tolerant maize, also known as ‘MON87460.’ The controversial maize was developed under the auspices of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) funded project called Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), currently operating in five African countries and aimed at ‘benefitting’ smallholder farmers.

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has consistently opposed MON87460 as unproven, unsafe and inappropriate for resource-poor smallholders. The organisation has formally appealed against its approval for commercial cultivation in South Africa. The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Senzeni Zokwana, has advised the ACB on the 15th December 2015 that he has established an Appeal Board to

African civil society slams Monsanto junk GM maize deal

African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO), União Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC), Kenya Biodiversity Coalition (KBioC), Kenya Food Rights Alliance (KeFRA), Eastern and Southern African Small-Scale Farmers Forum Uganda (ESAFF, Uganda)

Non-governmental and farmer organisations from South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda strongly condemn the go-ahead given by the South African GMO authorities for Monsanto to commercially sell its genetically modified (GM) “drought tolerant” maize seed for cultivation in South Africa. According to the groups, there is no evidence showing that the drought tolerant trait even works. According to Mariam Mayet of the ACB, “the GM maize (MON87460) has not undergone proper risk assessment anywhere in the world and has no history of safe use. South Africans who are already being force-fed with old risky GM traits will now be subject to an utterly new foreign, untested and risky transgene in their daily food.”

MON 87460 stems from of a Monsanto/Gates Foundation project, Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA). Other key project partners include the Howard Buffet Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT). The project is being implemented in South Africa, Kenya, Uganda,

Gates and Monsanto’s Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project

In this report, the ACB interrogates the Gates Foundation and Monsanto?s Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project and exposes it to be nothing more than corporate ?green washing,? designed to ensnare small holder farmers into adopting hybrid and GM maize in order to benefit seed and agro-chemical companies.

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Manipulate and Mislead: How GMOs Are Infiltrating Africa

gmo_foei

The most persistent myth about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is that they are necessary to feed a growing global population. Highly effective marketing campaigns have drilled it into our heads that GMOs will produce more food on less land in an environmentally friendly manner. The mantra has been repeated so often that it is considered to be truth. Now this mantra has come to Africa, sung by the United States government and multinational corporations like Monsanto, seeking to open new markets for a product that has been rejected by so many others around the globe.

While many countries have implemented strict legal frameworks to regulate GMOs, African nations have struggled with the legal, scientific and infrastructural resources to do so. This has delayed the introduction of GMOs into Africa, but it has also provided the proponents of GMOs a plum opportunity to offer their assistance, in the process helping to craft laws on the continent that promote the introduction of barely regulated GMOs and create investor-friendly environments for agribusiness. Their line is that African governments must adopt GMOs as a matter of urgency to deal with hunger and that laws implementing pesky and expensive safety measures, or requiring assessments

Objections to Monsanto’s application for spate of field trials with GM drought tolerant maize, September 2012

Field trials with MON 87460 are currently underway in South Africa at Hopetown, Orania, Pretoria, Lutzville and Delareyville.

These field trials form part of a larger initiative under the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project, a public-private partnership between African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF), Monsanto, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and the South African Agricultural Research Council (ARC). A combination of conventional breeding, marker-assisted breeding and transgenics are being used to develop maize with improved drought stress tolerance. WEMA also has partnerships with the national agricultural agencies of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. According to the permit applications, “The goal of WEMA is to provide smallholder farmers in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa with access to water efficient transgenic maize hybrids, royalty free, enabling them to produce more reliable harvests”.

CONTENTS:

Introduction
Rational for this application
Status of approval of Monsanto‘s drought-tolerant maize in the USA
Our main concerns
The nature of drought resistance
Other approaches to drought
The mon87460 transgenic cassette
Lack of monitoring
Socio-economic impacts
Lack of biosafety capacity in South Africa
Conclusion
References

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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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Water Efficient Maize for Africa: Pushing GM Crops onto Africa

This paper looks at the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project within the context of the race by massive agribusiness corporations to bring climate change related crops to the market. The first part of the paper explains the WEMA project within this context, outlining the players and the stakes involved. It looks at who stands to benefit from the project and what the African countries involved are asked to sacrifice. The second part of the paper looks at Monsanto‘s strategic positioning within this climate change race and how it intends to use WEMA as leverage to bring its controversial crops to a wider global market, simultaneously opening up key markets in Africa for its GM crops. Finally, we outline our concerns and make recommendations with regard to appropriate agricultural systems in Africa.

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ACB’s objection to Monsanto’s application for trial release of drought tolerant GM maize MON 87460

Monsanto has been conducting field trials of drought tolerant maize in South Africa since 2007, and has recently applied to have these trials extended. Monsanto has presented the trials as forming part of the much larger Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Initiative, of which the African Centre for Biosafety has already criticised in a previous publication. Having viewed, the albeit exremely limited ‘non-confidential-business-information’ version, of Monsanto’s appeal document, the ACB feels it pertinent to bring several glaring concerns of ours to the public attention.

Drought tolerance in plants is an incredibly complex characteristic, involving up to 60 seperate genes (remember the majority of commercially grown GM crops contain just 1 or 2 artificially inserted genes). Monsanto even admits in its application that under conditions of extreme drought, the apocalyptic visions of which the biotech industry frequently uses to justify its activities, MON 87460’s yield ‘can be reduced to zero’. Bearing this in mind, and taking into consideration the very real risks we have identified from Monsantos application, including horizontal gene transfer, the use of anti-biotic resistance marker genes and the danger of cross pollination with conventional vareties, we fail to see how the continuation of these trials can be