South Africans are in the unfortunate
position that there is complete polarisation in the debate
around genetically modified organisms into pro's and antis.
This is not a debate for politicians but
is one which should be influenced by science and scientists. No
lesser objective bodies than the American Academy of Sciences,
various agricultural associations in Europe and the British
Medical Association warn that there are inherent dangers in the
use of GMO's. They claim that some countries are introducing
crops and foods for consumption more rapidly than they
understand the consequences.
We cannot deny the fact that:
. Genes are switched on and off in
harmonious ways to maintain balanced eco systems and health, or
in unnatural ways to trigger possible activation of harmful
proteins like prions that cause mad cow disease.
. Ecosystems are disturbed by super
bugs and super weeds and with them natural diversity essential
for survival is compromised.
. Genes can be transferred
horizontally into indigenous species, altering the way they
. Use of GMO's in agriculture can
drastically affect small-scale farming in a negative way,
. Licences have been granted for
crops in South Africa, which have been refused in other parts of
. Regulatory mechanisms monitoring
GMO plants imported or grown in South Africa are weak.
Therefore, the IFP calls on the Ministers
of Agriculture, Environment and Trade and Industry to hold a
transparent debate with all interested parties leading to
amendments to the GMO Act, better paper trailing of GMO's and
monitoring thereof. Until such time that there is adequate risk
assessment or monitoring in South Africa, there should be a
moratorium on the introduction of further crops or products in
Dr Ruth Rabinowitz, 082 579-3698