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[SANET-MG] Africa rejects pharming
The article below deals with Africa's rejection of pharming. I am
reminded of a nutty scheme of a few years ago that recruited third world
farmers to produce pharm crops. Applications came in from Africa and
other third world locations including urban Toronto Canada.Now, it
seems as though all the world rejects field testing and production of
pharm crops except the ruling agricultural bureaucrats in USA and Canada.
Africa's first online newspaper est. 1994
mail and guardian
Environmentalists want state's GM secrets
Mariette le Roux | Pretoria, South Africa
24 May 2004 15:34
Environmental lobby group Biowatch sought a Pretoria High Court order on
Monday compelling the government to divulge details of all genetically
modified organisms (GMOs) brought into or manufactured in the country to
The body is seeking an order directing the state to make available a
list of facts concerning each permit, approval and authorisation granted
for all GMO imports, exports, field trials and general releases to date.
This includes, in each case, a description of the GMO, its purpose, the
name and address of the permit applicant, the area where the GMO will be
used, plans for its monitoring, emergency measures in case of an
accident, and the relevant environmental impact studies.
It also seeks similar particulars of those applications still pending.
Biowatch lodged its court application after several failed attempts to
get certain information.
John Butler, for the non-governmental body, argued that a clear
legislative duty of openness and transparency rests on the government in
terms of environmental issues.
He disputed contentions that the information being sought is
confidential, saying the government is obliged to inform the public
prior to any GMO trial or general release.
"The information, if it does exist, should have been in the public
domain in any event," Butler told the court. "Members of the public and
farmers in an affected area should understand the potential threat they
The Open Democracy Advice Centre joined the proceedings as amicus curiae
(a friend of the court) and argued that Biowatch is entitled to the data
being sought on the basis of its constitutional right of access to
Access to information held by public and private institutions should
only be denied where it is clearly justified, and such a decision has to
be supported by factual evidence, it said in court papers.
The respondents are the registrar of genetic resources, the Executive
Council for Genetically Modified Organisms, the minister of agriculture,
biotechnology company Monsanto South Africa, seed company Stoneville
Pedigreed and GMO producer D and PL South Africa.
Mervyn Rip, SC, rejected on behalf of the registrar, the council and the
minister the assertions that his clients are trying to repress information.
Some of Biowatch's questions have been "substantially answered", he said.
However, Biowatch is asking such vast amounts of information that his
clients are administratively unable to deal with the request.
He also contended that the requests do not follow procedures set out in
the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
But he conceded under questioning by acting Judge Eric Dunn that the
requests for information precedes the enactment of the legislation, and
that Biowatch is "possibly" entitled to the information it is seeking.
About 50 anti-GMO protesters gathered outside the court in yellow
T-shirts with the words: "Protect Africa's harvest."
They marched through the city centre with placards reading: "Our world
is not for sale", "Phucking pharming" and "Save our seeds". -- Sapa
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