ACB to Challenge the South African Government and Monsanto over GM Maize

photo credit: ACB
photo credit: ACB

On August 7th the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) appealed to South African Agriculture, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister the decision to release Monsanto’s genetically modified maize for sale to farmers in South Africa. The particular variety of seed is supposed to drought tolerant, a claim that ACB disputes. According to ACB, the approval was based on information provided by Monsanto, and there have not been any assessments of food safety, environmental, and socio-economic impacts to confirm or challenge Monsanto’s conclusions. This kind of decision making with limited assessment is typical of GM approval processes in South Africa, and this appeal will test the administrative justice and procedural fairness of GM decision-making practices in South Africa. ACB was also excluded from access to the field trial data, and there is no independent or peer reviewed data available for the drought resistant GM maize. Additionally, ACB is concerned about the socio-economic impacts GM maize would have on smallholder farmers. ACB’s work has demonstrated huge economic risks of beginning to use GM crops rather than non-GM varieties and open pollinated varieties that are adapted to farmers’ agro-ecological and current farming practices. Read ACB’s full press release here.
This strain of drought resistant GM maize is part of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project. WEMA is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. Monsanto is providing maize germplasm for WEMA’s implementation. The project is currently being implemented in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique. AGRA Watch has been working with ACB and others raising concerns about the release of GM crops in Africa. For example, we gave a joint presentation on WEMA’s flaws at the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol held in Nagoya, Japan in 2010. AGRA Watch will continue to stand in solidarity with ACB throughout the appeal.

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