On a family farm tucked between the rolling hills of Masopane, 40 km outside of
"This is my dream and I know that I am contributing to food security in
Debate is raging here over the government's policy to promote the cultivation of GM crops.
The new policy promotes multi-sector partnerships and increased public awareness on the benefits of biotechnology - including the use of GM crops.
Mabhena is growing GM maize on part of her family's 385-hectare
"Growing stack maize has reduced my costs in terms of pesticides and labour, but the major benefits are the good yields and income from growing this improved variety of maize," Mabhena said from
In-built insect resistance (Bt) maize has been grown in
The benefits of GM maize that Mabhena speaks of are not shared by
Swanby said that GM technology fits into a concentrated farming system, which requires large volumes based on economies of scale, but does not provide livelihoods or healthy, accessible food for ordinary South Africans.
"We need to take a step back and look at our food system in its entirety and decide what system is equitable, environmentally sound and will provide nutritious food for all," Swanby told IPS.
"The system in which genetically modified organisms [GMOs] fit can't do that. Apart from the technological failure - for example, the development of resistant and super weeds - adopting this technology leads to the concentration of power, money, land in the hands of the very few and does not necessarily lead to food security."
Swanby said it was deeply ironic that controversial research on GM maize by Professor Gilles Eric Seralini from
A 2012 study by Seralini and his research team linked GM maize to cancer. The study has since been dismissed for failing to meet scientific standards by the
"Very rarely do we see information on how many animals were used, for how long, what they were fed and a full analysis of the results. Why has
ACB's recent report, "Africa Bullied to Grow Defective Bt Maize: The Failure of
"Today, 24 percent of South Africans go to bed hungry ... but the biotech industry has habitually used yield as an indicator of success and this is too narrow and very misleading," Swanby said.
The ACB argues that the safety of stacking genes is a new area of science whose long-term sustainability remained questionable and states that Bt technology was approved in
"Farmers are business people. If it is so difficult or unprofitable to grow Bt maize why is almost 90 percent of our maize based on biotechnology? Surely, if South African farmers found GM maize so difficult to manage why haven't they rushed back to the old maize varieties of the past?" asked Obokoh.
In 2011 and 2012, 2.3 million hectares and 2.9 million hectares, respectively, of GM crops were grown in
"Food security is a prime right and biotechnology offers one of the many available solutions," Obokoh said. "While
Anti-GM activist and the executive director of the
"The GMO advocates have also promoted the myth that crop productivity, by itself, can eradicate hunger," said Smith, arguing that key international reports over the last 15 years describe how economics and distribution are more fundamental to solving this problem.
However, in November the African Science Academies urged African governments to invest heavily on biotechnology, declaring that biotechnology-enhanced tools and products can help
Most Popular Stories
- Obama Administration Releases Proposal to Regulate For-Profit Colleges
- Elizabeth Vargas' Husband Marc Cohn Addresses Rumors
- Keurig Adds Peet's coffee, Alters Starbucks deal
- Quiznos Files for Chapter 11
- U.S. to Relinquish Gov't Control Over Internet
- SoCalGas Reaches Record Spend on Diversity Suppliers
- U.S. Consumer Sentiment Falls in Early March
- Is Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in Andaman Sea?
- Vybz Kartel Convicted of Murder
- Koch Brothers Step up Anti-Obamacare Campaign