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2-Plants: South African NGOs fight Monsanto's triple resistant GEcotton

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TITLE:  SA lobbyists fight US genetic crop plans
SOURCE: Business Day, South Africa, by Tamar Kahn
DATE:   May 29, 2003

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SA lobbyists fight US genetic crop plans

CAPE TOWN - Plans by a US based licensee of the Monsanto Corporation to
grow a new type of genetically modified cotton in SA have triggered
fierce criticism from local lobbyists campaigning for a moratorium on the
introduction of genetically modified organisms.

Environmental lobbyists have raised concerns about the environmental and
health effects of genetically modified organisms, while government is in
the process of reviewing its legislation on these organisms.

The Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Company, which is based in Memphis,
Tennessee, has applied to the agriculture department for permission to
plant cotton containing three modified genes; two of them confer
resistance to insects, and one makes the cotton resistant to herbicide.

According to Monsanto's biotechnology regulatory manager for Africa,
Wally Green, two sites are planned, one 40km west of Musina in Limpopo
and one near Groblersdaal.

Green said that the two sites would be used as a winter nursery,
producing seeds for Stoneville during the US off-season, and all the
seeds would be sent back to the US.

Biowatch spokeswoman Elfrieda Pschorn-Strauss expressed concern about the
way notice of Stoneville's application to plant the triple-gene cotton
was brought to public attention. She said that an advertisement was
placed in the Zoutpansberger, a small Afrikaans newspaper based in Louis

However, Green said the company had complied with the requirements of the
Genetically Modified Organisms Act, which stipulated that notices had to
be placed in three newspapers circulating in the region in which modified
crops were to be planted 30 days before an application was submitted to
the department. He said that notices had been placed in six newspapers,
including Beeld.

Glenn Ashton, interim co-ordinator for lobby group Safeage, which is
campaigning for a fiveyear ban on genetically modified organisms, said he
was concerned that Stone ville planned to introduce a variety of cotton
in SA containing an untested combination of modified genes.

"We haven't found information on the (use of this cotton) anywhere else
in the world," said Ashton.

Green said that the triple-gene cotton had in effect been approved by the
regulatory authorities in the US. He said this type of cotton was
produced by crossing Bollgard II cotton, which contained two insect-
resistant genes (Cry 1 Ac and Cry 2 Ab), with Roundup Ready cotton, which
contained a gene conferring resistance to Monsanto's Roundup Ready herbicide.

Both Bollgard II and Roundup Ready cotton had received full US regulatory
clearance, said Green. He also said that cross-breeding did not require
specific approval in the US.

Ashton said that Safeage planned to oppose the application to plant the
triple-gene cotton, but it was concerned that it did not have sufficient
scientific information to build up a case.

"Given the flawed regulatory regime in SA, this application should be
refused out of hand. We cannot afford to further subsidise the interests
of this industry at potentially incalculable cost.

"We insist that a conservative and precautionary approach be taken,
rather than the present cavalier and opaque system that facilitates the
introduction of these novel and untested crops." 


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig

phone:  +49-531-5168746
fax:    +49-531-5168747
mobile: +49-162-1054755
email:  genetnl(at)