BRIEFING ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS. Acting director general: mr peter thabete Department of agriculture, fisheries and forestry. OUTLINE OF BRIEFING. 1. BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON BIOTECHNOLOGY/ GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS (GMOs)
Acting director general: mr peter thabete
Department of agriculture, fisheries and forestry
1. BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON BIOTECHNOLOGY/ GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS (GMOs)
2. LEGISLATION: GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS ACT, 1997 (ACT NO. 15 OF 1997) AND AMENDMENTS
3. STATUS OF GM CROP ADOPTION IN SOUTH AFRICA
4. STATUS REGARDING TRANSBOUNDARY MOVEMENT OF GMOS
A “toolbox” of various techniques that uses living organisms or derivatives thereof to modify or make useful products. In the past this has included selective breeding for improvement of plants and animals and the fermentation of commodities such as bread, beer, wine, cheese etc
Defining Modern Biotechnology
Discovery of genetic code or “DNA” biotechnology applications were able to facilitate the transfer of genetic material within and beyond the species boundaries thus allowing living organisms to be modified or altered at a genetic level, resulting in what is known as a genetically modified organism (GMO).
Collectively this process is termed genetic engineering/ modification and represents but one of the many tools in the biotechnology “toolbox”.
National Biotechnology Strategy (2001)
Promotes the establishment of a thriving biotechnology sector
through various interventions because of potential to contribute to economic development.
increase agricultural production in a sustainable manner
address production challenges relating to limited arable land and the declining natural resource base.
Nutritionally enhanced food
GM technology not solution to every problem but instead should be considered in combination with other sustainable technologies and existing agricultural practices
Department of Agriculture,
Forestry & Fisheries
Department of Science & Technology
Department of Environmental Affairs
Department of Trade and Industry
GMO Act, 1997
Management Act, 1998
Limit adverse impact on environment, human/animal health
How is this achieved?
Act makes provision for the Minister to appoint members to regulatory bodies which exercise oversight over the safety assessment and approval of GMO applications.
Technical experts responsible for safety assessment
Decision makers represented by DAFF, DEA, DoH, the dti, DoL, DST & AC Chair
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an international agreement established under the Convention on Biological Diversity
Objective: contribute to ensuring an adequate level of protection for the safe transfer, handling and use of GMOs to limit adverse effects on conservation and biodiversity, also taking into account risks to human health.
SA acceded to the Protocol in 2003
Obligations as a Contracting Party to provide legal, administrative and other measures to implement provisions of Protocol
DAFF is the recognized Competent Authority and DEA is the Focal Point
Status of implementing key amendments to the Act:
SA AREA PLANTED WITH GM CROPS
Total Maize = 78% of total maize ha
White maize: hectares, 64% crop
Yellow maize: hectares, % crop
Soybean: 85% crop
Cotton: 92-95% crop
Total Area : 2,1 million hectares
GM Crops – Commercially Approved
(Source: ISAAA 2009) Biosafety
3....IMPACT OF GM CROPS Biosafety
Less crop damage due to effective
Reduced chemical use
Savings on input costs
Increased farm income
Potential benefits for both small scale
and commercial producers
Cumulative benefits from 1999-2009
estimated at $500 mill for SA (ISAAA, 2009)
Source: Gouse et al (2003, 2004, 2005)
Imports/ Exports procedures applicable to:
GM seed for intentional introduction into the environment i.e. For planting
GM Commodity for direct use as food, feed or processing (not planting)
Procedures strictly comply with Protocol requirements (Articles 7,8,11 & 18)
Generally follows a process involving-
Notification of GM events in the consignment
Decision making based on available risk assessment data of GM events
Communication of decision and issuance of relevant authorisation documents if appropriate.
Challenges where contracting Parties to the Protocol are at different levels of implementation and do not yet have all the required procedures in place.
In 2005, Executive Council (EC) suspended all existing and new applications for commodity imports of GM maize.
Decision based on the dti’s concerns regarding the possible negative impact of GM commodity trading on local producers.
To facilitate decision making a study was commissioned by the EC to investigate the issues raised by the dti.
Outcomes of the study broadly confirmed that restricting access to new GM maize events would disadvantage both domestic producers and consumers of GM maize.
Following an analysis of the study report the dti recommended to the EC that:
Imports of GM maize commodity be allowed only if DAFF is able to ensure adequate control measures for policing and monitoring of commodity imports.
Import of GM sugarcane not be allowed unless verification is possible through scientific testing.
Consultation with SACU member states on the development of regulatory measures for GM commodities due to potential risks of transboundary movement of GM products to SACU countries.
In response to the dti’s recommendations the EC has commissioned several interventions to address strengthening of regulatory control measures.
Since EC decisions are consensus based, the Council is currently awaiting the final position by the dti on whether they are satisfied that their concerns have been addressed.
Same consideration given to SA for commodity imports needs to be extended to importing Parties when SA is the exporting country.
GM maize exports to Kenya:
Both Kenya and SA are Parties to the Protocol
GM status of maize consignment was declared to Kenya
Import authorisation was issued by Kenya accepting the consignment
Export permit issued by SA for mixed consignment of GM maize to Kenya for use as a commodity (i.e. not for planting)
Follow ups with Kenyan government regarding status of maize consignment resulted in response from KEPHIS that shipment of maize was transferred to a warehouse.
No official communication received since media reports.
To date SA has made significant progress with the alignment and implementation of its Biosafety Regulatory Framework
Because the regulatory framework in SA cannot function within a vacuum we have to take cognizance of Agreements and Protocols that apply at an International level in the interest of ensuring our trade credibility for accessing international markets.
We do acknowledge the challenges relating to GMOs in so far as different countries expressing different viewpoints on the subject and being at different levels of regulatory implementation.
Continue to engage our regulatory counterparts on technical issues relating to GMOs in an attempt to address some of the identified challenges.