GENET archive


9-Misc: South African agriculture department moves to dispel GMfood fear

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Agriculture department moves to dispel GM food fear
SOURCE: Business Report, South Africa
DATE:   8 Jul 2004 

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Agriculture department moves to dispel GM food fear

Pretoria - The agriculture department sought yesterday to dispel fears
about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in South Africa.

All GMOs in the country had gone through a rigorous assessment process,
taking into account human, animal and environmental safety factors, said
Julian Jaftha, the department's director of genetic resources.

"All GMOs available have gone through the same process and we are
confident that all concerns have been adequately addressed," he told the
Agricultural Writers' Association.

"Not everything is just approved and put out there."

Jaftha described in detail how GMO licensing applications were processed,
saying the emphasis was on access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food
and the sustainable management of the country's natural agricultural

The government believed biotechnology could play an important role in
eliminating poverty and hunger but recognised the risks, he said.

The appraisal of each application involved an assessment of safety and
the socio-economic impact, and the evaluation of submissions from the
public and affected sectors of the economy.

There was also inspection and monitoring after an application had been

Jaftha said 10 applications for trial releases - the planting of crops
for trial rather than commercial purposes - were received between January
and June.

One application had been lodged for the contained use of GMOs in a
laboratory and another was for a commodity clearance using a GMO product
for food and feed but not planting.

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Grain SA opposes untested GMO maize
SOURCE: Business Day, South Africa, by Justin Brown,3523,1654407-6078-0,00
DATE:   7 Jul 2004

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Grain SA opposes untested GMO maize

South African farmer body Grain South Africa (GSA) has opposed in writing
the application for an import permit by US seed company Monsanto for the
import of genetically modified organism (GMO) maize for human and animal
consumption, GSA chairman Bully Botma said in a statement.

Monsanto South Africa biotechnology regulatory manager Wally Green in
Johannesburg confirmed Monsanto had applied to the South African
government for a commodity clearance permit number, so that any potential
maize importer in South Africa could make an application to import maize
from the US in the future.

The application to the South African Registrar for GMOs is for the
approval of the import of maize that may contain the Cry3Bb1 gene, which
has resistance to US corn rootworms, and Cry1Ab, which has resistance to
European corn borer, Green said.

Monsanto has no intention of importing maize, but it is seeking to clear
its GM maize products for import into South Africa, when the country
needs to do so, Green said.

GSA's concern centres on the fact that the imported maize could also be
used for domestic production purposes, considering that the importers
cannot guarantee that the prospective maize would be immediately milled
and only be used for human and animal consumption, or fed as whole grain
to animals, Botma said.

The GMO maize, to which the application refers, has not been locally
evaluated in terms of the possible negative affects it may have on animal
and human health, as well as the environment, GSA said.

On these grounds GSA, has objected to the granting of a Goods Clearance
Permit to Monsanto for the importation of GMO maize.

"Enormous pressure is currently being placed on local producers, who want
to service the export market, to develop an identity preservation system
and use it to produce, store and transport GMO and non-GMO maize
separately," GSA said.

The same requirements to establish the GMO status and certify the
identity must therefore also apply to overseas producers who want to
enter the South African market.

"GSA has urgently requested the South African Registrar for GMOs not to
approve a Goods Clearance Permit for importing consignments of yellow
maize, which may originate from hybrids containing such untested BT
maize, which may in any case not be produced domestically," Botma said.



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