SA government rejects GM potatoes

Posted by Alastair Otter on October 23, 2009
Posted in Food, Green News

Copyright: iStockphoto

Copyright: iStockphoto

The South African government has rejected the Agriculture Research Council’s (ARC) application to provide genetically modified potatoes to local farmers, saying it was concerned about its safety and economic effect, reports Business Day.

“This is probably the most significant victory of my career,” said Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), which spearheaded the campaign against the GM potatoes. “For a pro-genetically modified government to refuse a commercial application on safety grounds is quite ground breaking.”

The ACB campaign focused on the ARC’s application for commercial release of its SpuntaG2 potato, which has been engineered to kill the tuber moth, a common pest that damages crops in the field and in storage.

Potatoes SA, fast food outlet McDonald’s, and food retailers Pick n Pay and Fruit and Veg City have also expressed objections to the ARC’s application, saying they were concerned about consumer choice.

Full story: Business Day.
African Centre for Biosafety statement


One Response to “SA government rejects GM potatoes”

  1. Susan
    November 2nd, 2009 @ 10:37 pm

    With a rising population – set to meet 9 billion by the year 2050 – and a decline of available arable land, it is more important than ever that we draw on the best available technologies to meet future demands in a sustainable manner. We must aim to produce sufficient, affordable food and fibre, economically and in an environmentally and socially sensitive manner. Plant biotechnology can help farmers achieve sustainable agricultural practices by growing more food on less land, helping reduce the amount of natural resources like land and water that are needed. Crops are being developed that have drought- and saline- resistant qualities, to help farmers grow crops in challenging conditions, which in many areas are being made worse by the impact of climate change. Biotech crops undergo rigorous testing and field trials before they are approved for cultivation, and human health and safety is paramount. Whilst consumer choice must remain, it is important that we don’t allow events such as this to effect our attitudes towards technologies which can allow us to meet the demands of the growing global population. We need to see continued financial investment in research and development to ensure that we meet the challenge of feeding a rapidly growing population in a sustainable manner by developing the best possible technologies, whilst preserving consumer choice.

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