South African tribunal rejects DuPont deal
2. GM Banana Slips in South Africa: Key Issues and Concerns
1.PRESS RELEASE FROM THE AFRICAN CENTRE FOR BIOSAFETY
ACB APPLAUDS TRIBUNAL DECISION TO PROHIBIT PIONEER HI BRED AND PANNAR MERGER SEED MERGER
14 October 2011, Johannesburg South Africa
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) applauds today’s decision of the Competition Tribunal (Tribunal) to prohibit the seed merger between multinational seed company Pioneer Hi Bred, and South Africa’s largest seed company, Pannar Seed.
During December 2010, the Competition Commission prohibited the merger and the merging parties referred the Commission’s decision to the Tribunal for reconsideration. After a three- week- long hearing, the Tribunal has decided to similarly prohibit the merger. Reasons for the decision is still forthcoming and no further information is at this stage available.
The ACB was granted leave by the Tribunal on the 19th August 2011, to intervene in the merger proceedings on public interest grounds, particularly with regard to the effect the merger would have on small scale farmers. This was itself precedent setting in that it was the first time the Tribunal had allowed NGOs to intervene in merger proceedings.
The ACB has in fact been involved in the merger proceedings since October 2010. The ACB participated in the proceedings and led the expert evidence of an agricultural economist working directly with small- holder farmers, who outlined the devastating impacts the merger would have on small-holder farmers and food security.
According to Mariam Maye, director of the ACB, “ The prohibition is a victory for small holder farmers in South Africa and all those who advocate for a more equitable food system. The Tribunal’s decision will create much needed breathing space for the development of an appropriate seed system for South Africa that responds to the needs of small holder and resource-poor farmers rather than those of profit-seeking multinational corporations.“
The ACB notes that the South African government has prioritised the development of black small-holder farmers. Government must now do the right thing by building on the Tribunal's decision and work in partnerships with farmers to develop small-holder capacity to produce and distribute seeds that are appropriate to farmer conditions and needs.
“Government must stop pushing for the further propagation of the industrial agricultural model, including for small holder emerging and resource poor farmers. Far too little resources have been devoted to utilizing local knowledge and local varieties as genuine solutions to food insecurity. “ said Mayet
The ACB would like to thank Legal Aid South Africa for its support, in particular Fatima Laher and Achmed Mayet. In addition, the ACB extends its gratitude for the able expert assistance it received from Steven Greenberg and Advocate Steven Budlender.
Mariam Mayet 083 269 4309
Gareth Jones 081 493 4323
2.GM Banana Slips in South Africa: Key Issues and Concerns
Biosafety in South Africa – Briefing Papers
In this briefing we deal with the application by the University of Pretoria for permission to conduct the first ever field trials in South Africa involving GM bananas. The rationale for the genetic modification is to combat Fusarium wilt, caused by a soil born fungi Fusarium oxysporum f.sp cubense (Foc). The idea is to genetically engineer bananas with a rice gene (NPRI homolog (NH1)) to confer resistance to the said Foc. The aim of the field trial is thus to evaluate Cavendish bananas that have been transformed to express the NH1 gene for disease tolerance against Foc.
We raise critically important biosafety concerns that have been overlooked in the application.
We also review the situation with banana production globally with particular emphasis on the decline in banana production in South Africa. It is our view that GM disease resistant bananas cannot overcome the current problems being experienced, ranging from land tenure to competition from more ecologically suitable production areas such as those in Mozambique. This real issue is that the shift in the industry will mean that 24 000 on farm jobs will be lost, which is a huge concern and requires urgent government attention and intervention. This problem is massively compounded by the fact that it appears as if these workers are unprotected in terms of access to unions.
Download the briefing: http://www.biosafetyafrica.org.za/images/stories/dmdocuments/GM-bananas.pdf