African heritage crops threatened by South African GMO decision
For Immediate Release: African Centre for Biosafety and GRAIN
Friday, 12 September 2008
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), which objected to the initial application by the CSIR, has condemned the decision, stating that experimentation with GM sorghum will inevitably result in the contamination of Africa's prized sorghum heritage. Haidee Swanby of the African Centre for Biosafety, comments: 'Sorghum is a key staple crop for over 500 million people on the continent. The risks posed by GM sorghum to wild and weedy relatives cannot be tolerated at all and the granting of this permit is tantamount to a licence to taint Africa's heritage.'
The ACB points out that the ABS project is being developed for commercial release and the CSIR will be seeking permission for field trials soon. The original objection of the GMO authority of 15 June 2006 was based on concerns regarding contamination of Africa's biodiversity. Containment in a level three facility will not negate these concerns for field trails, and the risks to African varieties remain.
Elfrieda Pschorn-Strauss, programme officer for GRAIN Africa, an organisation that promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity, concludes, 'It is not for the South African government to decide, on behalf of the rest of Africa, that they may approve an industrial project which will result in the inevitable contamination of Africa's astounding genetic diversity in sorghum. This crop has been developed and cared for by farmers for over 5 000 years.'
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For more information contact:
Haidee Swanby, African Centre for Biosafety, Researcher and Outreach Officer
+27 (0) 82 459 8548
Elfrieda Pschorn-Strauss, GRAIN Africa, Programme Officer
+27 (0) 82 413 0502
African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) is a non-profit organisation, working to protect Africa's biodiversity, traditional knowledge, food production systems, culture and diversity, from the threats posed by genetic engineering, biopiracy, agrofuels and generally, industrial agriculture.
GRAIN is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) which promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity based on people's control over genetic resources and local knowledge.