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South Africa rejects world first GM maize for biofuels (25/3/2007)

SA REJECTS WORLD FIRST GM MAIZE FOR BIOFUELS
Johannesburg 26 March 2006
PRESS RELEASE
AFRICAN CENTRE FOR BIOSAFETY & CENTRE FOR FOOD SAFETY

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) and US based Centre for Food Safety welcome the resounding rejection by South Africa's regulatory authority of Syngenta's GM maize for fuel ethanol.

During May 2006, the ACB and the Center for Food Safety (US) opposed, on food safety grounds, Syngenta's application for commodity clearance of its GM maize event 3272, the first GM industrial crop for which commercial approval (whether for cultivation or import) has been sought anywhere in the world.

South Africa's GM regulatory body, the Executive Council, rejected the GM maize application on the most damning biosafety grounds, namely, that Syngenta had failed to provide convincing proof of food and feed safety even if the primary intended use is ethanol production.

"The rejection by South African authorities of the world's first GM industrial crop confirms our long-standing concerns that GM crops can in fact be hazardous to human health, and that biotech company studies purporting to demonstrate safety are grossly inadequate," said Bill Freese, science policy analyst with the Center for Food Safety.

The EC expressed great concerns at Syngenta's failure to submit crucial biosafety data and found Syngenta's compositional studies, broiler chicken feeding studies, and its agronomic performance studies to be hopelessly inadequate.

The ACB especially welcomes the EC's finding that Syngenta had not adequately assessed the GM maize for its potential to cause allergies, based on the presence of a novel enzyme with allergenic properties. The EC urged Syngenta to adhere to methodologies for evaluation of allergenicity as developed by the FAO/WHO and conduct additional studies.

The final nail in the coffin for Syngenta was the finding that Syngenta's GM maize for ethanol would contaminate non-GM maize in SA and thus pose an unacceptable risk to South Africa's export market.

Bill Freese (US) 202-547-9359 x14
Mariam Mayet (SA) 083 269 4309

The full objection can be viewed at www.biosafetyafrica.net

Reasons for the rejection can be obtained from Mariam Mayet mariammayet@mweb.co.za

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