The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), published the annual report which represents the GM industries interests in South Africa.
Miriam Mayet and the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) have dismissed the findings contained in the annual report as “mischievous and erroneous”.
The report alleges that South Africa’s GM crop area increased by 26% or 600,000 hectares over the last 12 months. However, Mariam Mayet, director of the ACB points out: “The ISAAA in its desperate attempt to bolster the popularity of GM crops in the media, has overestimated the spread of GM crops in SA by a staggering 400%! According to the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the combined maize and soybean cultivation in South Africa increased by less than 150,000 ha over the stated period and the area planted with GM cotton has declined by 3,000 ha.”
Mayet further points out that South Africa has witnessed an increase in non-GM maize cultivation. Between the 2010/11 and 2011/12 growing seasons, the area of non GM maize cultivation increased by 38% (or 210,000 ha). “It is likely that the issue of insect pests developing resistance to the toxins produced by GM maize is a major factor behind this shift away from GM maize in South Africa.” Said Mayet.
Gareth Jones, from the ACB pointed out the GM industries double standard to the detriment of the consumer.
“The $45 million the biotech industry spent to fight against GM food labelling in California illustrates the double standards by which it operates. While claiming to be eradicating hunger and achieving environmental sustainability for the public good, the biotech industry has denied the same public any rights to free choice when it comes to the food they eat or the systems of agriculture they want.” Said Jones.
Instead the GM issues reported on in 2012 reveal the substantial health risk to consumers on a global scale. The ISAAA fails to discuss the need for long term feed studies identified by the international scientific community following the damning results of the Seralini GM rat study; the 24 million ha of US farmland over-run with glyphosate resistant weeds; or the new GM crops in the pipeline, engineered to be resistant to even more toxic herbicides such as 2,4-D, Dicamba and glufosinate, to deal with this catastrophe. These herbicides are even more toxic with numerous serious health risks to the average consumer.
The ACB wants answers from the GM industry on the following:
If GM crops are so good for small farmers, why did the Indian state of Maharashtra ban GM cottonseed sales in 2012 – does it have anything to do with the near 40% crop failure fuelling a wave of suicides?
If GM crops are so badly wanted by African countries, why did Kenya ban imports at the end of last year?
Why is there so much controversy about exactly how much GM is being grown in Egypt and Burkina Faso? Even the ISAAA admits Egypt grew less GM last year, and Burkina is reported to have banned Bt cotton altogether pursuant to farmers abandoning GM cotton in that country; and If GM crops are the answer to our global food crisis, why did BASF pull out of Europe altogether last year?
Notes to editors:
ISAAA’s financial supporters include:
CropLife International (an umbrella lobby group for biotech companies)
Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Pvt. Ltd (Mahyco), India (a subsidiary of Monsanto)
Bayer CropScience Ag
US Department for Agriculture
US Soybean Export Council
Information on South Africa maize and soya cultivation from the Crop Estimates Committee: http://www.nda.agric.za/doaDev/crops.html
GM seed information from the South African National Seed Organisation annual reports:
ACB (2012). Setting the record straight on the Seralini GM maize rat feeding study: Why the SA government must urgently intervene.
‘Glyphosate-resistant weed problem extends to more species, more farms’, Farm Industry News. 29th January 2013.