Africa's Granary Plundered Privatisation of Tanzanian Sorghum Protected by the Seed Treaty PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Monday, 11 January 2010 13:07

By Edward Hammond December 2009.

A gene recently isolated from a Tanzanian farmers' variety of sorghum may yield tremendous pro?ts for multinational companies and government researchers in the United States and Brazil. Called SbMATE, it is not only useful in sorghum; but also may be used in other crops, including genetically engineered (GE) maize, wheat, and rice as well as GE tree plantations.

Government researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and the Texas A&M University (US) have patented the gene in the US. They have also ?led an international patent application in which they state that they will seek patents on the Tanzanian gene across the world, including in Africa.

The commercial potential of the gene is strong. Although it was only recently identi?ed, the giant multinational Dow Chemical is already negotiating with the US government to license it. Japan's second largest paper products company has also expressed interest in buying access to it.

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On- going Concerns about Harmonisation of Biosafety Regulations in Africa PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Tuesday, 17 November 2009 08:40

The paper is a response to concerns raised by the African Union's Biosasfety Unit about assertions made in an earlier briefing in June 2009 regarding the African Union's biosafety harmonisation processes.

In this briefing the Ms Swanby on behalf of the ACB salutes the initiatives taken by the AU in the biosafety discourse on the continent to date, including the early harmonisation attempts by its predecessor, the Organisation of African Union (OAU) to put in place a Model Law on Safety in Biotechnology. At that time, the OAU's harmonisation approach was to bring about a consistent African approach to biosafety regulation based strongly on the precautionary principle.

However, this briefing continues to warn of the dangers lurking in the AU's Biosafety Stategy with regard to proposed biosafety harmonisation processes that involve several players that cause us great concern. These players include: Regional Economic Communities (RECs), who have a decidedly pro trade and pro GM agenda and whose biosafety initiatives have to date been funded by USAID. The briefing points out that the harmonisation approach favoured by USAID is one that creates a one stop GMO approval system, and thereby side stepping a country-by-country, case-by-case risk assessment and decision-making process.

The briefing also reiterates our extreme disquiet at the role of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (“FARA”) in the implementation of the AU's Biosafety Strategy. The briefing goes further by proffering information to the AU's Biosafety Unit of FARA's involvement with industry by highlighting for example, its partnership with the Syngenta Foundation announced in May 2009, to launch a 3 year biosafety capacity building project for six countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi. FARA's board member is the well known Florence Wambugu, whose long standing ties with Monsanto and generally, the pro-GM machinery is well established.

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Response from the AU Commission Biosafety Unit to Briefing no. 9 PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Monday, 09 November 2009 11:14
"The Revised African Model Law on Biosafety and the African Biosafety Strategy". 15 July 2009

In July 2009 The African Union Biosafety Unit communicated their concerns about the ACB's briefing no.9, their letter can be viewed here.

The original briefing can be viewed at here.

The ACB's response is titled On-going concerns about harmonisation of biosafety regulations in Africa, November 2009.

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Patents, Climate Change and African Agriculture: Dire Predictions PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Monday, 28 September 2009 14:04

Uncertainty and apprehension often afford opportunity to the cunning. This is certainly the case with climate change. The multinational seed and agrochemical industry see climate change as a means by which to further penetrate African agricultural markets by rhetorically positioning itself, even if implausibly, as having the solution to widespread climate concerns. Their so-called “final solution” to deal with the impact of climate change on African agriculture depends on mass adoption of GM seeds and chemically intensive agricultural practices. This model poses serious biosafety risks and demands the surrender of Africa's food sovereignty to foreign corporations and the widespread acceptance of patents on life in Africa.

Despite its obvious pitfalls, this model is being aggressively promoted by multinationals, private philanthropy and some African national agricultural research programmes, often funded by the first two. The money and public relations forces backing the seed giants threaten to drown out other voices and other possibilities for African agriculture.

In this briefing, we expose the forces behind “climate ready” crops, including the central role played by gene giant Monsanto and provide data on patents on climate genes in respect to key African staple and other food crops.

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Biotechnology, seed and agrochemicals booklet PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Tuesday, 08 September 2009 08:05

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