African Centre for Biodiversity News

15 January 2018 – Status report on the SADC, COMESA and EAC harmonised seed trade regulations. To start this new year, The Status Report on the SADC, COMESA and EAC harmonised seed trade regulations: Where does this leave the regions’ smallholder farmers?, researched and written by Linzi Lewis and Sabrina Masinjila of the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), provides a brief background and status update on efforts by regional economic communities to harmonise seed trade and marketing policy and legislation in East and Southern Africa. This paper focuses on the Technical Agreements on Harmonisation of Seed Regulations of the Southern African Development Community (SADC, 2008), the Seed Trade Harmonisation Regulations of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA, 2014), and the regional seed harmonisation programme of the East African Community (EAC).

The skewed nature of these harmonisation efforts, which focus solely on the formal seed sector, has continued to neglect and obstruct participation by African civil society groups in the development of such regulations. This has prevented meaningful involvement by civil society and smallholder farmers in decision-making processes on issues that directly affect their livelihoods, seed and food systems.

This paper offers a critique of these frameworks which firmly embed green revolution approaches in Africa, favoring large scale agribusiness as the solution to seed insecurity in Africa. This approach will have drastic implications for smallholder farmers and their seed systems, who provide the most sustainable supply of seed in the region.  Long-term solutions require comprehensive and appropriate national and regional seed policies that guarantee the rights of farmers, and particularly women farmers, supporting smallholder seed production and supply, and protect agricultural biodiversity.

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Kind regards

ACB team

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German cabinet approves draft law banning GMO crops

German cabinet approves draft law banning GMO crops

The German cabinet has approved a draft law banning cultivation of crops with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), government sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Germany had announced in September 2015 that it will ban cultivation of crops with GMOs under new European Union rules allowing member states to opt out of their cultivation.

An EU law approved in 2015 cleared the way for new GMO crops to be approved after years of deadlock. But the law also gave individual countries the right to ban GMO crops even after they have been approved as safe by the European Commission.

Under the draft German law, applicants seeking EU approval to cultivate GMO crops will be asked by the German government to remove Germany from the area in the EU where the crops are approved for growing.

 If this is refused, a ban on growing the GMO crop in Germany can be imposed even if the EU approves the plant strain as safe to cultivate.

Widely-grown in the Americas and Asia, GMO crops in Europe face divided opinion. Britain is partly in favor of them, while France and Germany are among countries that oppose them.

There is general agreement in Germany that the country should ban GMOs but disagreement whether the bans should be imposed by federal or state authorities caused a long delay in agreeing the draft law on the ban.

(Reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann, writing by Michael Hogan, editing by Louise Heavens)

28 November 2016 –