The African Center for Biosafety released a strongly worded press release condemning the actions of the South African Government to approve the import of genetically modified corn soya. The GM soya has been genetically engineered to resist applications of 2.4-D, glufosinate and glyphosate. The GM maize has been dubbed “agent orange” maize as it contains a 2,4 D resistant gene. The chemical was an ingredient in the infamous chemical, Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War to devastating effects.
“We condemn the decision by the South African authorities. Once again, economic interests are riding roughshod over our government’s stewardship role to protect the health of our citizens and environment. The decision to approve this GE soybean variety is all the more galling in light of a current motion by the African Christian Democratic Party before the South African Parliament, to overturn a previous decision to allow imports of Dow’s 2,4-D tolerant GE maize into South Africa.” said Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety.
A number of global civil society groups have joined in the protest as this approval sets a dangerous precedent on the import use of toxic GMOs on a global level. The claim that GE crops result in lower pesticide use was debunked by several group leaders. include
“The introduction of GE herbicide resistant soybeans in the United States, Argentina and Brazil has resulted in a massive increase in pesticide use, predominantly glyphosate,” explained Carlos Vicente from the international organisation GRAIN.
“Any increase in the use of 2,4-D in association with Dow’s 2,4-D resistant corn will hit rural communities especially hard, as numerous medical studies have linked 2,4-D and related herbicides to increased rates of cancer and Parkinson’s disease as well as low sperm counts in farmers, and to birth anomalies in their children,” said Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Senior Scientist with Pesticide Action Network North America.
“Farmworkers and other rural residents will also be at risk. 2,4-D has been shown to cause liver and nerve damage, as well as hormonal disruption and is classified by the World Health Organisation as possibly carcinogenic,” she added.
Carlos Vicente from GRAIN in Argentina added that “the severe risks to human and animal health and the environment posed by glyphosate are well documented. A human tragedy is unfolding in Argentina due to the introduction of glyphosate tolerant soya there. Peasant farmers have been forced off their lands into large urban slums, and those left behind have experienced dramatic increases in cancers, spontaneous abortions and birth defects.”
“The biotech industry promised a reduction in pesticide use, but their products have simply led to increased reliance on older and more toxic pesticides to control the “superweeds” created by the use of RoundUp Ready GM seeds in the first place,” noted Gabriel Fernandes of the Brazilian organisation, AS-PTA. “The reality is that herbicide-resistant seeds are the growth engine of the pesticide industry’s sales and marketing strategy. These seeds are part of a technology package explicitly designed to facilitate increased use of and dependence on the companies’ own proprietary herbicides.”
Such is the urgency of the situation that civil society groups from three regions have felt compelled to approach the United Nations High commissioner on Human Rights and the Secretariat to the UN Convention on Biodiversity for urgent intervention.
Press Release from: AFRICAN CENTRE FOR BIOSAFETY, GRAIN, PESTICIDE ACTION NETWORK, ASPTA, TERRA DE DIREITOS; GM FREE LATIN AMERICA