Big concerns over GMOs in South Africa, West Africa and Uganda (12/7/2007)

1.South Africa's new GM experiments cause for great concern
2.West Africa risks massive introduction of GMOs: UEMOA
3.Uganda: Govt Refuses IDP Seed Donations In Case GM


1.SA's new GM experiments cause for great concern from the African Centre for Biosafety:

Dear friends

It is with extreme disquiet that the African Centre for Biosafety notes the recent spate of new applications for GM experiments in South Africa, see below. We are extremely concerned that our government has laid our country open to the wholesale experimentation involving a whole new range of GM applications, in a context where there is no room for public debate and consultation.

Part of an adequate biosafety response to the introduction of GMOs into South Africa is the application of the precautionary principle. We note with bitter disappointment that the recent amendments to the GMO Act do not change the current status where decision-making continues to ignore South Africa's obligations under domestic and international environmental policy for caution to be exercised when dealing with a contested technology such as Genetic Engineering. This situation is all the more worrying in the light of the recent Environment Outlook Report published (July 2007),which shows that South Africa's biodiversity is already under extreme pressure and theat from a range of developments, with many species facing extinction.

South Africa has become a free for all-a place where genetic experiments are welcome and embraced in order to show off to the rest of the world that South Africa has arrived on the global Science and Technology scene!!

These experiments with new GMOs not only place human populations and the environment at great risk, but continue to reinforce a flawed development paradigm, which seeks to introduce hi-tech products to 'fix up' deeply rooted systemic socio economic problems.

The new experiments that will be discussed at the next meeting of the EC include the following:

(a) ARC:OVI 07/001: Contained use of Spunta potato (G2).

(b) Biological Control Products 07/001: Trial Release of GM Mosquitocide.

(c) Afriflowers 07/001, Contained Use of GM flowers and bulbs.

(d) Stellenbosch 06/011: Field trials with GM Grapevine (GUS).

(e) Triclinium 07/009: Trial release of GM Measles Vaccine, MVA-mBN85B.

In addition, the EC will discuss the Warren Chem’s General release of malolactic wine yeast (ML01) to which ACB has objected 17/3/1-WITS-07/019: Extension permit for trial release MRKAd5 HIV-1 vaccine to which ACB has objected (first application), and extension permits for Syngenta Extension permit for import and trial release of maize event GA21; and D& PL 07/108: Extension permit for import and trial release of maize event BGIIxRRFlex and RRFlex.

If anyone has any information to share with us concerning the new applications, please write to us as follows: [email protected] and copy Victor Munnik at [email protected] and Rose Williams at [email protected]

Kind regards
African Centre for Biosafety


2.West Africa risks massive introduction of GMOs: UEMOA
People's Daily Online, 10 July 2007

West African region is likely to face increased risks of massive introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the next few years, West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA)'s commissioner in charge of rural development, natural resources and environment Ismail Binguitcha-Fare has said.

"It's highly possible that UEMOA sub-region will be faced with biotechnology development, and more particularly that of massive introduction of GMO in the next few years," Binguitcha-Fare was quoted as saying Monday by Pan-African News Agency (PANA), while making a contribution during a meeting on regional bio-security orientation and monitoring program (PRB) organized by UEMOA in the Senegalese capital.

The meeting's objective was to officially inaugurate PRB's regional monitoring committee. According to Binguitcha-Fare, tests are currently underway and once the new seeds are fully developed, they will be sold through formal and informal channels.

"This will pose a real threat to biodiversity, if no safety measures are put in place," said Binguitcha-Fare, proposing the elaboration of a memorandum of understanding project between the relevant sub-region partners with a view of developing essential synergies for implementing UEMOA's regional bio-security program.


3.Uganda: Govt Refuses IDP Seed Donations
The New Vision, 6 July 2007

KAMPALA - Uganda will not accept donations of seeds from abroad for fear that they could be genetically modified, state minister for disaster preparedness and refugees said.

Musa Ecweru yesterday said the prime minister's office, which is responsible for the country's disaster management, accepts only processed foods, clothing, medicines and agricultural implements for distribution to the internally displaced people and refugees.

The minister was receiving 650 cartons of fortified rice and soy protein meal worth $15,000 from a US-based Christian Aid Initiative at the prime minister's stores in Kampala.

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