The South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) has applied to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for permission to conduct field trials for 4 varieties of GM sugarcane.
Having viewed SASRI's applications in terms of the Public Access to Information Act (PAIA), it is our opinion that the information provided is so inadequate that it is virtually impossible to conduct any meaningful independent assessment of the applications. Further, throughout the application runs the assumption that the genetically modified lines under discussion are 'equivalent' to their conventional counterparts.
This is a view not supported by the published literature. The African Centre for Biosafety hopes that the Executive Council considers our very real concerns when deciding over this application. In the interests of the biosafety debate in South Africa, we also respectfully request that the Executive Council establishes a formal process whereby it, rather than the developers of GMOs, decides what constitutes 'confidential business information', and what constitutes information for the public interest.