Southern Cape & Karoo
No commercialisation of GM potatoes
09:43 (GMT+2), Mon , 28 September 2015
Southern Cape & Karoo
The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has welcomed the decision of the minister of Agriculture, Water Affairs and Fisheries and an appeal board rejecting the commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) potatoes in South Africa.
 The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has welcomed the decision of the minister of Agriculture, Water Affairs and Fisheries and an appeal board rejecting the commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) potatoes in South Africa.
 
The ACB said it vigorously campaigned over a number of years against the Agricultural Research Council's (ARC) bid to bring GM potatoes, also known as SpuntaG2, to the South African market.
 
"The potatoes were genetically engineered to produce a toxin to kill the potato tuber moth. The ACB has always contended that the GM potato posed unacceptable risks to human and animal health, the environment and the farming community. GM regulators in SA, the executive council: GMO Act, agreed and rejected ARC’s application in 2009, citing a long list of biosafety, health and socioeconomic concerns. These were challenged by the ARC in an appeal, which they have now definitely lost," said Executive Director of Biodiversity Centre Mariam Mayet.
 
"We have waited several long years for this decision and are extremely pleased that smallholder farmers will not be saddled with this unwanted and risky technology.
 
"The research into the SpuntaG2 potatoes was bankrolled by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with Michigan State University (MSU) and ARC. It was touted as a "home-grown" solution to challenges faced by smallholder potato farmers. However, smallholder farmers reported that the potato tuber moth was not a high priority in their production systems. Ex-ante studies carried out by the project itself, found that the GM technology would be of no benefit to either small or large scale farmers, as it was rather a 'solution in search of a problem'," said Mayet.
 
The executive council stated in its decision that more pressing challenges for smallholders included access to water and availability of seed.


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