SA government blamed for encouraging genetically modified crops (1/2/2007)

SA government blamed for encouraging genetically modified crops
By Savious Kwinika (CAJ)
African News Dimension, January 31 2007

From Fred Katerere in CAPE TOWN CAJ News Bureau Chief CAPE TOWN AN opposition legislator has blamed the government of putting what she termed as enabling legislation that has encouraged genetically modified crops "to run riot" in the country.Cheryllyn Dudley, African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) Member of Parliament and party spokesperson on agriculture and land issues said the government had not considered reservations of the safety on the crops.

"Encouraged by recent enabling legislation, genetically modified crops (GMOs) have been allowed to run riot in South Africa despite many reservations including concerns that the safety of genetically modified foods has not been established," she said in a presentation in Parliament on Thursday.

South Africa is now considered the world's 8th top producer of GM crops while United States of America and the European markets demanded GM free crops. "The United Nations (UN) is a primary market for South Africa. This kind of risk-taking places the South African economy in jeopardy," she said. Dudley said about a million hectares of South Africa's maize crop, the country's staple food, was under GM cultivation which represented 44% of this year's maize planting, up from last year’s 29,3 per cent.

"The ACDP is of the opinion that genetic engineering has serious implications for sustainable agriculture and food security and offers counterfeit solutions for Africa." Dudley said. According to GRAIN, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) which promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity based on people's control over genetic resources and local knowledge, South Africa's accommodating policy on environmental issues paved way for the entry of the GM crops.

"South Africa with its large commercial farming sector and accommodating policy environment, was the first and continues to be the most popular destination for GM seeds," said GRAIN on a report on GM crops in African Agriculture. In 1997, the first GM crop, Bt cotton, was approved for commercial released to commercial farms and by 2001 more than 200,000 ha were planted with GM crops-CAJ News.

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