A Critical Review of the Academy of Science in South Africa’s report on Second Generation GMOs

The African Centre for Biodiversity
PO Box 29170, Melville 2109 South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)11 486 1156

Dear friends and colleagues

The ACB has today released a paper titled, ’Deception or Dishonesty? A Critical Review of the Academy of Science in South Africa’s (ASSAf’s) report on Second Generation GMOs,’ which presents an evidence-based critique of the report published by the Academy of Science South Africa (ASSAf) titled ‘Regulatory Implications of New Breeding Techniques’ (the Report). Our critique discusses the pro-GM propaganda contained in the ASSAf’S Report and contrasts it with a well-established scientific body of concerns surrounding the use of these so-called new breeding techniques (NBTs), and their potential to exacerbate further the deepening ecological and social crises in South Africa.

In essence, the ASSAf Report calls for the exclusion of NBTs from the ambit of South Africa’s GMO legislation, but bases its demand on a number of scientifically flawed, biased and questionable grounds. While the Report is self-described as a ‘consensus study,’ it is, however, a consensus report of the GM industry’s positions and,’ hype’, only, and fails to consider the biosafety and socio-economic issues that have been raised by various civil society organisations, including the ACB.

This year the ACB published two briefing papers to raise awareness of the risks inherent in these new GMOs, known as GMOs 2.0. The first is titled ‘Biosafety Considerations of Novel Plant Breeding Techniques’ and the second is titled ‘Biosafety Risks of Genome Editing Techniques’. As summarised in these papers, GMOs 2.0, in general, involve many of the same processes used to produce first generation GMOs. These techniques come with similar, attendant risks and have also introduced additional risks. The new technologies incorporate the latest global ‘omics’ techniques which are now becoming routine procedures in the field of molecular biology.

Consequently, to protect the safety of farmers, consumers, society and the environment, and to prevent further entrenchment and expansion of the corporatisation of South Africa’s food system, the ACB is calling for all GMOs 2.0 to be defined as GMOs. But more than that, we are calling for an independent assessment by a multi-disciplinary team of independent experts, of the health, environmental and socio economic impacts that the first generation of GMOs have already caused. Further, we are calling for a moratorium on the further use of GM technology and in particular these so called NBTs. ACB is of the strong view- backed by evidence -that the first generation GM technologies-now on their way out- have caused massive social inequity and environmental damage and deepened hunger and poverty in the country. The time is overdue for SA to transition out of these unsustainable systems towards agro-ecology and food sovereignty.

Kind regards the ACB team

articles post