Object to Syngenta setting up in SA Posted on Pambazuka News
19 May 2005
ACTION ALERT: PLEASE BLAST SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT FOR ENTERTAINING FLURRY
OF FOOD SAFETY APPROVALS FOR EXPERIMENTAL GMOS
FIRST IT WAS DOW AND PIONEER, NOW IT IS SYNGENTA
It has come to our attention that the Swiss agrochemical company, Syngenta,
has applied to the South African government for food safety approval
(commodity clearance) of its GM maize MIR 604, which is still undergoing
field- tests in the US. In other words, this GM maize has not yet been
approved by the US for commercial growing, sale and export.
GM maize MIR 604, contains the Bt gene, "modified" cry3A, very similar to
the cry3A gene found in Monsanto’s controversial NewLeaf GM potatoes, which
even McDonalds and Burger King have rejected!
Please send your urgent and strenuous objections to Michelle Vosges,
Registrar: Genetically Modified Organisms Act MichelleV@nda.agric.za for the
attention of the Chairperson of the Advisory Committee, Professor Sibara.
GROUNDS FOR OUTRIGHT REJECTION
1. The safety approval sought by Syngenta in respect of GM maize MIR
604 still subject to field tests in the US appears to be in conflict with
the principles and provisions of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to
which South Africa is a Party, because the Protocol applies to real
situations of cross border trade in GMOs and not to speculative trade in
respect of non- existent GMOs;
2. An expert in food allergens from the Food and Drug Administration in
the US, has found that Cry3a has similarity to a known food allergen found
in cow’s milk, betalactoglobulin, making Syngenta’s "modified" cry3a a
3. Even if the Syngenta’s GM maize was to be approved in the US, the
methods accepted by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in the US to
test for allergenicity of pesticidal proteins are outdated and fail to meet
international standards as expressed in FAO-WHO. The FAO-WHO 2001 has been
endorsed by Kraft Foods, America’s largest food company;
4. The digestive stability test accepted by EPA does not meet FAO-WHO
2001 standards for testing and proper testing is needed to determine whether
modified Cry3a is stable to digestion and hence a still more likely food
5. The American food industry – led by McDonald’s and Burger-King – has
rejected GM potatoes containing a very similar Cry3a protein. Why should
South African eats food containing foreign genes that Americans do not want
to eat; and
6. The world’s leading allergists have greed to a protocol for testing
novel GM proteins for allergenicity; Kraft Foods has endorsed this protocol.
Yet the EPA continues to accept testing based on outdated, sub-standard
methods at the behest of GM crop developers such as Syngenta and Monsanto.
It goes without saying that the South African government is only too happy
to follow the EPA’s example!
The Precautionary Principle enshrined in the Biosafety Protocol requires
that the South African government refuse Syngenta’s Application.
Although the deadline for objections has long since passed, we believe that
the government must consider our objections according to the principles of
procedural fairness and just administrative action required by the
Constitution of SA and the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.
Syngenta Seeds, Inc.; 67979-EUP-4 issuance; Modified Cry3A Bacillus
thuringiensis protein and the genetic material necessary for its production
(via elements of pZM26) in Event MIR604 corn (SYN-IR6Ã˜4-5); March 23, 2005
through Otober 15, 2006 and associated activities such as collection of
field data; harvesting & processing of seed after last planting; 575 acres
modified Cry3A corn in Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas,
Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska,
Ohio, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin. Docket No.