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2-Plants: GE maize TC1507 field trials blocked on South Africa

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DATE:   25 Jan 2005

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Johannesburg 25 January 2005. The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has
today learnt that its objections, lodged exactly 7 months ago, strenuously
resisting Dow Agrosciences' application to field test its GM maize event TC
1507 have been successful.[1]

On the 23 November 2004, the Executive Council (EC), the government body
under the aegis of the Department of Agriculture and comprising of
government officials from various national departments, took a decision not
to approve Dow's application. The Department of Environmental Affairs and
Tourism in particular, raised questions about impacts on non-target
organisms, whereas the Department of Science and technology called upon the
Registrar to investigate the ACB's objections in greater detail.

According to the papers submitted by Dow in support of its application, the
purpose of the field trial was to "gather information to substantiate EU
registrations." Indeed, the European Commission is expected to consider
Dow's application for safety approval of Dow's GM maize TC 1507 during

The ACB expressed outrage at the attempts by Dow to further its commercial
interests, namely obtaining EU registrations, and in do doing, utilise the
land of South Africa as its experimental "guinea pig."

In its objections, the ACB raised serious questions as to the veracity of
the information supplied by Dow since it appeared that Dow may have
provided incorrect information to the competent authorities of Argentina,
Spain and the Netherlands in order to obtain approvals in those countries
for its GM maize TC 1507.

In addition, the ACB raised extensive environmental concerns including the
failure by Dow to address the impacts of the GM maize on non-target
organisms, the emergence of superweeds and the persistence of Bt toxins in
the environment. The ACB also pointed out that the UK competent authority
ACRE had declined to approve event TC 1507 for cultivation in April 2004
because of an apparent contradiction in the information provided on the
characterisation of the insert.[2]

"Dow's unsuccessful application is encouraging and implies that some
biosafety benefits may be reaped from close monitoring and vigilance. We
will continue to keep up the pressure on the South African government.[3]"
said Mariam Mayet, the Director of ACB.

"We are particularly concerned about the experimentation taking place in the
fields in South Africa with GM maize and GM cotton crops by multinational
agrochemical companies seeking nurseries in the Southern hemisphere for the
production of GM seeds. These GM seeds are re-exported to the United States
for further cultivation there during their growing season. We aim to put a
stop to this." Added Mayet.


Mariam Mayet, Director
African Centre for Biosafety
(011) 646 0699; 084 68 333 74

Shenaz Moola, Scientific Advisor
African Centre for Biosafety
(011) 482 1073


[1] Objections to the Application made by Dow Agrosciences in Respect of
Event TC 1507 to the National Department of Agriculture, South Africa by
Mariam Mayet and Shenaz Moola, for the African Centre for Biosafety 25 June

[2] Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) (2004) Advice
on a notification for marketing of insect resistant and herbicide resistant
tolerant GM maize. April 29, 2004.

[3] For a briefing of the South African permitting system pertaining to GMOs
see, M Mayet A Glimpse through the cracks in the door: South Africa's
permitting system for GMOs" January 2005

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