South Africa Rejects Appeal from Biotech to Grow GM Potatoes

South Africa Rejects Appeal from Biotech to Grow GM Potatoes

The Minister of Agriculture, Water Affairs, and Fisheries has rejected a biotech appeal for the commercialization of GM potatoes throughout South Africa. This is part of the changing tide concerning the cultivation of GM crops, since Russia, Germany, France, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and more have all banned GM crops now.

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) with the support of the South African public, has been petitioning the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) to refuse GM potatoes known as SpuntaG2 for commercialization.

They were genetically altered with a bacterial toxin that was meant to kill the tuber moth, but many experts suggested that the GM potatoes would pose unacceptable health risks to the public as well as the farming community. Citing a long list of bio-safety, socio-economic, and environmental hazards, the GM companies who planned to grow these crops were challenged, and in the end their appeal was refused.

Executive Director of ACB, Mariam Mayet said:

“. . .we have waited several long years for this decision and are extremely pleased that smallholder farmers will not be saddled with this unwanted and risky technology.”

Related: How to Know if You’re Buying the GM Potato in the US

Biotech touted their GM potatoes as a solution to challenges faced by smallholder potato farmers, but these farmers said that the tuber moth was not a high priority in their list of concerns growing potatoes.

They found that the GM technology would be of no benefit to either small or large scale farmers, as it was rather a “solution in search of a problem.”

The Executive Council stated in its decision that more pressing challenges for smallholders included access to water and availability of seed.