The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), tasked by law, with monitoring the impacts of GMOs on the environment, has released its first report on 28th January 2011. The report co-produced by SANBI with premier biosafety unit, Genok in Norway and a number of South African universities record the findings of a three-year study on the impacts of Monsanto’s GM maize, MON 810, on the South African environment. MON 810 is used extensively by maize producing commercial farmers in South Africa.
The study found that populations of insect pests have already developed resistance to the Bt maize in the North West Province (one of South Africa’s most important maize growing areas). This has been exacerbated by gene flow between GM and non-GM maize varieties. The study also found that current refugia were hopelessly insufficient to manage resistance in areas where this has already developed.
At the molecular level, the study found that the size and expression of certain proteins differed between GM and non-GM maize plants analyzed. Further, Monsanto’s Bt gene was found to differ significantly in size to that occurring naturally. These, and other findings of the project, do not support the concept of ‘substantial equivalence’ put forward by proponents of GM technology, claiming that there is no essential difference between a GM and a non-GM organism.
It is clear that GMOs do not offer any long-term benefits to farmers, the environment and society.
The ACB reiterates its calls that GMOs should be banned as they pose unacceptable risks to human health, the environment and society.
SANBI’s report can be found a www.sanbi.org <http://www.sanbi.org>
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) is a non profit organisation, based in Johannesburg South Africa. It provides authorative, credible, relevant and current information, and research and policy analysis on issues pertaining to genetic engineering, biosafety and biopiracy in Africa.
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