Availability of and access to diverse, quality seed is a key element in successful crop production. Commercial seed systems focus only on seeds where profits can be made. Over time this has resulted in neglect and disappearance of diverse indigenous and farmer varieties, and a shrinking of agricultural biodiversity.
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Huge technical advances in molecular biology and big data biology are leading us towards a ‘forth industrial revolution’ with the ongoing development of novel genetic engineering techniques being reviewed by the UN Conventions for Biological Diversity, under the term ‘synthetic biology’.
I attended a dialogue on corporate ownership in South Africa in May, in Tshwane, hosted by Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS). There was strong government representation at the dialogue, including from Treasury; Trade and Industry; Minerals and Energy; and Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. Someone from the EU was also there.
A heated public debate on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) ensued during a seminar organised by MVIWATA – a network of smallholder farmers – in Morogoro, Tanzania. The meeting took place on 12 May 2018 and was attended by more than a hundred people, including parliamentarians and high-level government officials.
The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) is deeply concerned that South Africa’s draconian corporate seed Bills were approved by the Parliamentary Select Committee on the 22nd May 2018, with no substantial changes being made.
At the National Seed Dialogue and Celebration, hosted by the African Centre for Biodiversity at Constitution Hill in December 2017, this session on Participatory Plant Breeding and Smallholder Farmers looked at issues of smallholder farmers & seed breeding/crop improvement and the pot
The news that the Swaziland Environmental Authority (SEA) had authorised the importation and commercial release of Bt cotton seeds came as a huge shock to the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB).
Spiritual and Cultural Value of Seed in South Africa (one of a series of six videos covering discussions from the ACB hosted event, National Seed Dialogue and Celebration - December 2017)
“Seeds are the basis of life. Human life, your life, is dependent on plants. The qualities of the seed go beyond beauty to sustaining us nutritionally and medicinally. Seed is the foundation of human diets across the world.”
The ACB has played an essential watch-dog role on new GMO permits in South Africa for a decade now, adding substantially to the discourse about the scientific assessment of GMOs as well as about issues of socioeconomic impacts and democratic decisionmaking, through lodging substantive comments on at least 30 permit applications.
The ACB has the pleasure of sharing with you a short 5-minute video of the Southern African seed law and seed sovereignty dialogue, Face to Face: African CSOs confront ARIPO, SADC over Draconian Harmonised Seed Laws, co-hosted by the ACB in partnership with PELUM-Zimbabwe, which took place in Harare, Zimbabwe, 28-30th June 2017.
Genetically modified (GM) “male-sterile” mosquitoes are due to be released in Burkina Faso this year by the Target Malaria research consortium. However, Target Malaria acknowledges that there are no benefits to the proposed GM mosquito release.
ACB warns that the South African government has received an application for the commodity clearance (import for food, feed and processing) of ‘triple-stacked variety of genetically modified (GM) soya – MON 87708 X MON 89788 X A5547-127 by Monsanto South Africa (Pty) Ltd in October 2017.