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The GM Potato Petition 2008 This campaign has been initiated by The African Centre for Biosafety.

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Rejection of GM Potatoes by African Consumers and Importers

Taking into account that South Africa’s Agriculture and Research Council (ARC) has announced their intention to apply to the SA government for permission to make GM potatoes commercially available,

We, the undersigned consumers and importers of potatoes, hereby vehemently oppose the marketing and growing of GMO potatoes and implore the SA GMO council to reject the application outright, on the following grounds :

Health Concerns

There is no consumer confidence in the long-term safety of GM potatoes and they pose no benefit to the consumer. Problems with Bt genes that have been commercialised in the past have included immune reactions, impacts on organ weight and function and allergic reactions.

Additionally, the use of antibiotic resistant marker genes poses an unacceptable risk to the health of Africans. There is a possibility that the use of these genes could diminish the efficacy of antibiotics such as Kanamycin, a drug that is listed in the WHO Essential Medicines Library as a drug reserved for treating multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

There is no reason for consumers to take the risk of eating a novel food for the sake of storage requirements for farmers.

Force feeding fellow Africans with dangerous food

ARC’s GM potato work is funded by USAID, which is well known for their tactics to push US corporate interests in GM in Africa. They are up front about their goal to “integrate GM into local food systems” through their Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project (ABSP).

Ninety percent of South Africa export potato crop goes to its neighbours in SADC, where many have imposed bans or biosafety restrictions on GM food. ARC’s GM potatoes will force feed fellow Africans with food that they have neither asked for nor have a say in.

GM Potatoes won’t help African farmers

GM potatoes are located within the “Green Revolution” package for Africa that proffers technical and economic solutions for African agriculture. These solutions, designed by transnational agribusiness, create dependence on hi-tech, capital-intensive technology that is inappropriate for small-scale farmers. Public research money would be better used on enhancing more appropriate agricultural systems that ensure local food security, adaptability to changing climates and local control over resources.

African farmers face the loss of their markets and control over their farming systems if South Africa paves the way for the introduction of GM potatoes onto the continent.

Biosafety Concerns

The developers claim that GM potatoes are better for our health & the environment because they reduce pesticide spraying, but this is not true. GM potatoes are engineered with an inbuilt pesticide to control the tuber moth, which is most destructive during storage. The pesticide is now inside the plant and farmers will still use a toxic cocktail of chemicals to combat all the other 99 pests, as well as viral, fungal & bacterial diseases, and weeds that plague potato farming in South Africa.

Furthermore because the Bt toxin is expressed 24 hours a day, it accumulates in the environment and throughout the food chain. The tuber moth will quickly develop resistance to the toxin, so this is a short-term and short-sighted solution to this problem.

* To download a booklet with detailed information on the GM potato in the South African potato industry go to :

www.biosafetyafrica.net/hotpotatoscreen.pdf

 

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* What can be realistically achieved by my signing?
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* What your signature can do :


They (The GMO council) will be deciding on whether or not to allow this permit to commercialise GMO potatoes. Your signature will show them that consumers are not willing to eat this product. Your signature can sway their decision.

Potato South Africa oversees the whole potato industry. If they believe that their market will be jeopardised by GM potatoes, they will make a strong case to the GMO council not to allow them onto the market. Potato SA has already said that they will oppose the permit, your decision will help to galvanise their position.

GM Potatoes have already been rejected by consumers in the United States and the European Union. The governments of Egypt and Indonesia began experiments on these potatoes but ended them when they realised that consumers would not buy. Your signature could ensure they meet the same fate in South Africa.

>> Sign the Petition

 

This campaign has been initiated by The African Centre for Biosafety. http://www.biosafetyafrica.net/

Also supported by :

SAFEAGE
BIOWATCH
URBAN SPROUT

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Statement from Jenny Louw (Earth Artists) :

"My stand point on this issue does not come from a purely scientific standpoint but rather from a historical, biological and ethical angle.

Hind sight is an accurate science! Looking back classical science has many a time introduced technologies and methods that have over time proven wrong and others that have been right. Genetic modification has a relatively short history and as yet has not proven itself to be safe or sustainable.  In fact it has received an incredible amount of negative press from many reputable organizations and individuals alike.  

The economic culture at present is conducive to much distrust from the greater public for many reasons, an important one being the prime motivation of large corporations to earn extremely large profits. This obviously leads to serious ethical and moral question marks that hang onto the motivations of these large companies e.g. Monsanto, BASF, Exxon Mobil etc etc. The urge to control world food production (by large corporations) and supply as well as “own” the genetic code of the worlds food crops is ethically and morally not acceptable to any empowered human being!

Much of the public are opposed to the introduction of a food crop that is shrouded in such controversy (much based on the short history of other introduced GM crops) by companies with a reputation of greed to government and countries and farmers of equal motivation.

Nature on the other hand has supported creation for billions of years in absolute perfection. Here is a clean and transparent and dependent track record! Based on the powerful science of nature; organic, biodynamic and permaculture farming is proving highly successful and is certainly motivated by an ethic of sustainability, health and empowerment of the individual.

We clearly see that GM is highly questionable and thus unsafe to pursue in this way. Until these organisations change their moral fibre I stick to nature and my support resolutely lies with those individuals motivated to empower all peoples and to protect the integrity of life on the planet.  

Herewith I confirm that in my mind our future lies in concentrating on developing our farming methods based on natural laws and principles. The future lies in empowering the peoples of the world to farm in co-operation with nature, producing their own seed, nurturing their soil and creating biospheres that protect their crops. Attaching  world food production into GM Crops, terminator seed technologies, chemical fertilisers, pesticide: herbicide and poisonous farming practices is extremely short sighted and enslaves us to a few large organizations.

For a healthy and sustainable future for all the choice is obvious!  No to the Spunta G2 potato"

Jenny Louw
July 2008