GM food crops ? no evidence that they bring benefits
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CTA. 2003. GM food crops ? no evidence that they bring benefits. Rural Radio Resource Pack 03/01. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57178
Miriam Mayet is an environmental lawyer from South Africa working with NGOs on environmental issues. She is very concerned about modern biotechnology, specifically genetic engineering and GM feed crops
Cue: Miriam Mayet is an environmental lawyer from South Africa working with NGOs on environmental issues. She is very concerned about modern biotechnology, specifically genetic engineering and GM feed crops. She tells Songolo Akakandelwa, why. IN: ?It fundamentally interferes ?? OUT: ??.your own country and the region.? DUR?N 4?18? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Miriam Mayet was talking to Songolo Akakandelwa. Transcript Mayet It fundamentally interferes with the way nature reproduces. It is very very different from traditional and conventional biotechnologies. It is a technology owned by multinational corporations. There hasn?t been enough time for adequate safety testing. It has never been tested in humans. It fundamentally impacts on food production systems. It will have far ranging implications on household food security. Aka Talking about implications, how are these going to impact on these people? Mayet The first thing is that it is not a sustainable technology. If you look at Bt cotton for example in South Africa we see that there is pest resistance. Farmers have to spray against the very insects that Bt is supposed to protect the plant against- namely bollworms. And they have two choices. Either they spray their crops or they face wholesale crop failures just to give you one example. When you look at Roundup Ready crops, there?s injudicious use of chemicals. There?s dependence on the same company who supplies the seed ? you have to buy the herbicide that goes with the seed and it has negative environmental implications and the most important thing is that you have weed resistance. So it is not a sustainable technology. It is not an appropriate technology. Aka Let?s take for instance, the small scale farmers are not scientists in their own right. What is your reaction to such situations? Mayet I just think farmers are caught in the middle. They don?t have political interests. They have food security and economic interests. They have interests to survive. And they want assistance from governments, from the private sector, from NGOs to enable them to increase household food security. And the tragedy here is that quite apart from consumers being at risk, in terms of the negative impacts on human health, farmers will be the losers. Aka And how has been your experience in S. Africa? Mayet There has been very rapid introduction of this technology. We have 350,000 ha planted with GM crops. 179 applications have been granted for field trials. We have no comprehensive balanced policy over the introduction of modern biotechnology into our food production systems. We have a biotechnology strategy that is biased in favour of the biotechnology industry and we have very bad legislation and no labelling of GM food, no segregation of GM crops from non-GM crops. there?s a lot of contamination ? co-mingling. And we have very little public participation. Aka So in this case, what fears would you see if there is rapid engagement into such type of technology? Mayet I think that we are going to see a lot of farmers being impoverished in future, long term. Because if you look at the Makatini Flats there?s been a situation where dependency has been created. The farmers are completely and utterly dependent on Monsanto to help them obtain credit, to help them purchase the seed, to help them access the market and it?s not a sustainable way of uplifting farmers. Aka What lessons do you give to the other member states in the region to ensure such problems are not faced in the other countries? Mayet The first thing is don?t follow South Africa?s example. They have done very bad laws. Do first, a good policy. The policy should underpin your legislation. You can?t have legislation in isolation or in a vacuum. South Africa did it the other way round. They did the law first and only now the policy is coming. So first do a good comprehensive fair policy taking into account the long term interests of your own country and the region. End of track