South Africa was the world’s ninth largest producer of genetically modified (GM) crops, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Thursday.
Briefing the media on a Cabinet decision to approve the country’s Third National Report on the Implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, Radebe said the country remained “the pioneer” in adopting GM crops. This was aligned to Section 24 of the Constitution, which advocated sustainable use of biodiversity.
The protocol, a legally binding international treaty under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, deals with the rules and procedures for the safe transfer, handling and use of the controversial GM organisms, as well as their transport between countries.
South Africa was the first African nation to approve the commercial production of GM crops with approval already granted for GM cotton, maize and soybean. GM crops are either resistant to insect pests or they can tolerate broad-range herbicides.
The aim of GM crops is to reduce total costs and optimise production yields, but anti-GM lobby groups have been horrified by what they regard as tampering with nature purely for profit, calling GMOs ”Frankenfood”.
A copy of the report was not immediately available.