viernes, mayo 28, 2004

Mounting Debate in South Africa on GMOs

>From 5/27/04

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The NGO Biowatch is currently taking the South African Government to court, over access to information on GM crops in South Africa.

For years, the NGO has been trying to get access to the safety data and information on which GMOs are being imported, tested, grown and released, which it says the public has the right to know. But the registrar of genetic resources has consistently stalled, claiming that the data is confidential business information.

Now Biowatch has taken their demand to the Pretoria High Court, where the Registrar of Genetic Resources, the Executive Council for Genetically Modified Organisms and the minister of agriculture have been joined by biotech companies Monsanto and Delta Pine Land, and seed company Stoneville Pedigreed, who are seeking to prevent the information about their products being made public.

The case started on Monday, and has been accompanied by protests from the public, demanding their right to know about GMOs in their food.

Under questioning, the respondents admitted that Biowatch was entitled to most of the information it sought, but tried to claim that the amount of information being requested was too much for understaffed Registrar of Genetic Resources to deal with. To which the judge commented "The effect of (this argument) is that because a particular state organ is understaffed people are going to be denied their Constitutional Rights to access information."

The judge said that his decision would probably not be made until the end of next week.

Best wishes,


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