Most in South Africa reject GM foods / Citizens' views denied in Brazil (11/12/2005)

1.BRAZIL: Citizen Participation - More than Just Forums
2.Most in SA Reject GM Foods

comment: In both South Africa and Brazil GM crops have been given free rein by the government in the face of strong public concerns.

1.BRAZIL: Citizen Participation Requires More than Just Forums [shortened]
Mario Osava

RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 9 (IPS) - In the space of just seven days, Brasilia is hosting three national conferences, the culmination of numerous local and state meetings that mobilised hundreds of thousands of people all around Brazil. But in and of itself, that does not make a participatory government, say activists.

"The government encourages the public to speak out, but then it does not listen," said Cándido Grzybowski, director of the Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analyses (IBASE), a non-governmental organisation that focuses on public policies and democratic participation.

"Granting people a voice is not the same thing as recognising them as interlocutors," he told IPS.

The public debate process promoted by the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the leftist ruling Workers Party (PT), however, is impressive in terms of its sheer scope and breadth.

Saturday marks the start of the second national conference on the environment..

...In previous months or years, conferences have been held on racial equality, policies for women, food security, health, and science and technology.

But such a high degree of participation "means nothing" if the proposals that are approved fail to produce "real results," said Grzybowski, who cited the case of transgenic crops, which were staunchly opposed at the first national conference on the environment in 2003 but later given free rein by the government.

2.Most in SA Reject GM Foods
Claire Keeton
Sunday Times (Johannesburg), December 10, 2005

ALMOST six out of 10 South Africans either reject or avoid genetically modified foods, according to the results of a poll.

But a quarter of the 505 adults surveyed about GM foods said they were happy to eat them.

The Research Surveys poll also showed that at least one in three people did not have much knowledge about GM foods.

The results of this survey, conducted in Joburg, Durban and Cape Town, highlighted an improved level of knowledge from a poll on GM foods in 2001.

That survey, however, indicated more support and less suspicion around GM foods than the latest one.

Then, almost 40% agreed with the use of modern biotechnology to improve the nutritional value and taste of foodstuffs.

The majority agreed that GM foods should be specially and clearly labelled.

Government regulations publised in January last year do require the labelling of GM foods that:

differ significantly from the existing foodstuff;

have allergens, eg from crustaceans;

contain genetic material different to its origin (eg, if a plant derived food has genetic material from an animal or human).

In South Africa the commercial production of GM maize, cotton and soy beans has been approved.

Other crops like wheat are being grown in experimental field trials.

The Genetically Modified Organisms Act is the law under which GM foods are controlled.

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