Keep it up, Folks!

Keep it up, Folks!

PLEASE SHARE, COPY, PASTE AND EMAIL by Friday 7 February 2014! You can also print for people to sign &/or fax:

The Department of Agriculture, GMO Registrar, Ms NL Mkhonza

Registrar, Genetically Modified Organisms Act
Private Bag X973
Pretoria 0001
Fax Number: 012 319 6329

16 January 2014
We are writing to you in response to the Notice that was published in the Sake Rapport (Gauteng, South Africa) on Sunday 12 January 2014 headed “Application for General Release of Genetically Modified Maize” by DuPont Pioneer, South Africa.

This white and yellow maize product contains the trait NK603. The study by molecular biologist, Prof. Gilles-Eric Seralini, University of Caen, showed potential harms of genetically modified (GM) food. Rats fed on GM corn variety NK603 over a 2 year period tended to die earlier and there was an increased risk of cancerous tumors and infertility.

Although the study was retracted from the Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal, two French regulatory bodies, HCB (the High Council of Biotechnology) and ANSES (Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety), have agreed that the Seralini study was inconclusive. They recommend that the study be repeated following a protocol to be designed together with HCB and ANSES experts, and emphasize the need for more research into the long-term toxicity of GM crops.

ANSES has been pushing for the toughening of European regulations on GM food approval, calling GMOs an insufficiently documented health hazard. The French government plans to ask for a revision of the European procedures surrounding the evaluation, approval, and control of GM organisms. The government will maintain the French moratorium on growing GM crops.

GM Maize TC1507 is tolerant to a powerful glufosinate-based weedkiller, which is classified as highly toxic by the EU. TC1507 is about to be rejected for cultivation by the European Parliament.

Please also see African Centre for Biosafety’s Objection on a variety which contains 2 of the traits in the recent application:

Apart from advertising through industry-generated “Public Understanding of Biotechnology” propaganda programs, most South Africans are kept in the dark about what they are eating.
The government has failed to address the growing global controversies surrounding GMOs & the agro-chemicals they depend on. Those of us who are informed are understandably concerned. These concerns cannot simply be swept under the carpet.

The technology is heavily dependent on fossil-fuel chemicals, which is not sustainable. Small to medium farmers cannot afford the technology, so it is not of benefit to them and does nothing to develop real food security. Farmers cannot save patented seed, and seed-saving is an ancestral practice worldwide. We question the logic of placing seeds which were conventionally bred by farmers under the control of a handful of multinational corporations who modify them & patent them. Contamination of non-gmo crops is guaranteed and pesticide residues accumulate in the environment, contaminate soil and water and threaten our biodiversity. Feeding studies on animals indicate severe negative health impacts. Weeds and insects (Busseola fusca) have developed resistance to chemicals, resulting in the use of more, and more harmful chemical cocktails. This is proven by the fact that seeds have to be engineered to tolerate more chemicals, which end up in our stomaches! Also, just because each individual trait has been approved, there are no studies to prove that the combination of these traits is safe. We urge you to support independent research on the impacts of Genetic Engineering on Humans, Animals and the Environment.

Barking recklessly up the tree of this risky & defective GMO technology is short-sighted, as demonstrated by soy farmers in USA now facing a crisis with multiple weed resistance. Despite industry promises for the future, they have failed to deliver on any of their claims.
Genetically modified seeds are experimental, citizens have thus been deprived of informed consent under Nuremburg Code of Ethics and no-one is monitoring their impacts.
Furthermore, as there are no GE Free Zones or segregated post-harvest processing plants established in South Africa, no non-gmo maize or soy is locally available. Even if labelling regulations were strictly enforced, consumers are deprived of their right to make informed choices.

Safety tests by industries which profit from these novel crops are biased, voluntary and inadequate, and plagued by conflicts of interest. Concerned scientists, civil societies and consumers everywhere are questioning the United States of America’s regulatory process of GMOs, where they are registered as PIPs or Plant Incorporated Pesticides, not as food. There are many historical cases of industry scientists manipulating tests to establish safety, only to be proven wrong eg. Thalidomide, PCBs etc., which were later banned. Public faith in science is justifiably eroded, particularly as statistics for cancer and obesity are skyrocketing (even in children), and infertility, allergies and mental disorders etc. are increasing.

More and more countries are banning or restricting GMOs & their chemicals. What is the plan if South Africa’s export markets are destroyed? In light of the growing global rejection of GMO products, it would make economic sense to develop organically grown goods for local market and export, where supply cannot keep up with growing demand.
We urge you to adopt strategies which promote and support sustainable, agro-ecological and climate-smart farming, and reduce the impact of large commercial agriculture on our environment.

We urge you to follow Europe’s example, and strictly apply the Precautionary Principle, to listen to consumers and enable production of gmo-free alternatives. Until adequate and independent studies prove the safety of GMOs, we urge you to halt the approval of all GMO applications, including this one from DuPont Pioneer. Please lodge and register our strong objection to the release of genetically modified organisms into the open, where cross-contamination is guaranteed.

Thank You,

… — with Esther Dreyer. …read more    

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