3 September 99 – South African News

Table of Contents

GeneTech Conference October 29 (Consumer Institute South Africa)
Info on rBGH/rBST in South Africa
Paint with a purpose - Diarise Wed October 6th NOW
France opposes GMOS at WTO meet - Chirac
South African GE freeze coalition
South African Pro-GE groups out lobbying political parties
Excellent meeting held in Durban

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Date: Sun, 12 Sep 1999 10:10:58 +0200
From:">Glenda Lindsay

Hi All

I've posted this on the Biowatch listserver so apologies if you've received it .....and if you aren't already a subscriber to the Biowatch listserver, its free and a very up-to-the minute way of keeping in touch with whats happening re GMOs in South Africa. Contact Elfrieda at or Tel/Fax 022 492 3426 for details. I'm away with no email access until Sept 27 now.


GeneTech Conference October 29 (Consumer Institute South Africa)

Please support the Consumer Institute's efforts to focus awareness on the many issues arising from Genetic Modification by contacting CISA on South Africa (011) 433 0150 or email them at to receive details of the above one-day conference. Early Bird discount applies for registration & payment received before Sept 22nd

SA Minister of Agriculture Thoko Didiza will be speaking, as will renown US geneticist Prof John Fagan, Prof of Molecular Biology at the US Maharishi University, author of 'Genetic Engineering - The Dangers..' and numerous scientific papers on the subject.

Fagan's concern over the use of GMOs prompted his return of US research grants worth over US$600,000 to raise awareness worldwide of their irreversible socio-economic, environmental and health impacts and ethical concerns about the imprecision and unpredictability of the science behind them.

Prof Fagan's brief visit to South Africa is at the invitation of the Safe Food Coalition, who are happy to provide his credentials/biosketch.

Contact Kerry Niddrie at to arrange media interviews, public talks or meetings with relevant government decision-makers.

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Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 07:32:02 +0200
From: Glenda Lindsay

Info on rBGH/rBST in South Africa

Dear Friends

The Dept of Agriculture (tel 012 319 6671.... fax 012 319 7179) has confirmed to me by fax that both Monsanto and Elanco are licensed to sell Recombinent Bovine Somatatrophic Hormone in South Africa (under the respective tradenames of 'Posilac' and 'Optiflex')

rBST/rBGH is banned on animal and human health risk grounds in Canada, Europe and New Zealand. Think about that before consuming SA milk/dairy products. Halaal, Kosher, Hindu, lacto-vegetarian consumers, animal rights protectors - please ask for more info/accountability from the Dept of Agriculture.

Attached is renown US geneticist Prof John Fagan's ref to the process of producing rBGH (published 1995)

Since then in a report in the International Journal of Health Services, Fagan states that rBGH milk differs from natural milk chemically, nutritionally, pharmacologically and immunologically, besides being contaminated with pus and antibiotics resulting from mastitis induced by the biotech hormone. Included in the attachment are two published references to links with increased cancer risk. (Thanks Kerry)

Don't let South Africans and our dairy cows be subjected to these risks

Prof Fagan (see future email for Biosketch/CV) warns of the risks of GM technology and will be breifly in South Africa from Nov Kerry at to help network opportunities for his wisdom to be heard by the media, the public and our relevant government ministries.

Watch for info on Fagan in next email and remember - everything you say and do makes a difference.

More soon

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Date: Thu, 09 Sep 1999 23:00:22 +0200
From: Glenda Lindsay

Paint with a purpose - Diarise Wed October 6th NOW

Dear South African Fellow Non-Genetically Manipulated Eco-warriors......

Wanna have some fun getting your feelings about GMOs across?

We're getting together to create lots of colourful painted 'message' pots (come along and bring any like-minded friends, family, neighbours, colleagues) containing seedlings of indigenous South African trees (thanks Trees For Africa and the Organic Agriculture Assn of South Africa)) and presenting them 'en masse' (media opportunity) to the various Govt ministers/ministries (Environment, Agriculture, Health, Trade) involved in decision-making on the many issues around GMOs in South Africa.

My vision is of these 'Indigenous NON-GM Seeds of the African Renaissance' message pots on the desk of every relevant government decision-maker to peacefully and powerfully draw attention to the need to nurture our environmental heritage, encourage sustainable and nutritious food-growing methods and recognise the irreversible consequences our children (and our planet) will inherit if we don't act now to avoid the risks implicit in Genetically Modified Organisms.

Included in your (group discount) R55 contribution for our 'playtime with a purpose'........

Also available (at extra cost) & cold drinks, snacks and......the best carrot cake in South Africa!!!
WHERE?The Color Cafe at 'The Pavillion' cnr Rivonia Rd & Kelvin Drive, Morningside
WHEN?WEDNESDAY 6th October.... (2 group sessions to choose from: 10am OR 7pm)
RSVPto Dalit (owner of the Color Cafe) on 083 267 5599 - she needs us to confirm numbers
NO LATER THANWED 29th September (so there's enough flowerpots by the 6th)

(I'm away/not emailable Sept 12 - 24 - but try me on 083 305 8122 if you have questions/suggestions.)

Looking forward to some serious fun together

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Date: Wed, 08 Sep 1999 11:29:20 +0200
From: Glenda Lindsay
From: (Bob Phelps)

France opposes GMOS at WTO meet - Chirac

By Christopher Noble, Reuters News Service, FRANCE: September 6, 1999

PARIS - President Jacques Chirac said that France and the EU would oppose the sale of genetically modified foods and hormone treated beef at a global trade summit starting in November.

Chirac, speaking on France's TV5, said his stance was not incompatible with his overall support for the benefits of a globalised economy. He said France would vigorously defend its position at the upcoming ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Seattle from November 30 to December 3.

"Some in Seattle at the WTO are going to support the possibility of selling freely on the market food products for livestock and for people that are genetically modified or have undergone treatment with hormones," Chirac said.

"Our conviction is that we have no assurance that these practices meet standards for the health of mankind and we cannot play with that," he said.

"We French will be very firm on this point in Seattle."

Chirac spoke against a background of a summer-long wave of protests by French fruit and vegetable farmers at what they say are unacceptably low prices imposed by large supermarket chains that buy in bulk.

The outcry has overlapped with a series of violent protests against U.S. companies like McDonald's and Coca-Cola in reaction to tariffs imposed on some French luxury goods by the United States.

The U.S. tariffs were imposed punitively after the WTO ruled the European Union was illegally restricting the import of U.S. and Canadian beef treated with hormones.

There is no evidence that genetically modified organisms (GMO) harm humans and scientific studies by the EU have failed to produce proof that hormone treated beef is a health hazard.

Chirac said one way of resolving the dispute was to create an impartial scientific body within the United Nations to assess the risks of GMOs, hormones and other agricultural issues.

But he said that as long as any doubts remained, countries should be allowed to ban the import of contested foods.

"Either we are sure that everything is fine and the concerned scientists say so, in which case there is no problem," he said.

"Or we are not sure, which is the case with GMOs and hormone treated meat, and we accept that countries protect themselves against possible imports of this sort until the scientific authorities have given the green light," he said.

He said Europe's worries were compounded because GMOs also carried environmental risks, as shown by a U.S. study earlier this year which showed pollen from genetically modified corn harmed the larvae of the monarch butterfly.

"We know very well that GMOs can destroy certain parts of the environment, remember the case of the butterfly," he said. The U.S. study found that the hybrid corn was safe for human consumption.

Bob Phelps
Director, Australian GeneEthics Network
c/- ACF 340 Gore Street, Fitzroy. 3065 Australia
Tel: (03) 9416.2222     Fax: (03) 9416.0767 {Int Code (613)}
email: (Bob Phelps) WWW:

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."

George Orwell

"Non-cooperation with injustice is a sacred duty."

Mahatma Gandhi

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good people (men) do nothing."

Edmund Burke

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist."

Dom Helder Camera

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Margaret Mead

When spiders unite, they can tie down a lion.

Ethiopian proverb

"Knowing is not enough, you must also act"

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Sent: 05 September 1999 11:38
From: ekogaia []

South African GE freeze coalition

Hello all,

I just wanted to send a quick message to all of you in Gauteng regarding the idea of a more formal Coalition in regard to the Issue of a five year freeze for GE products and crops.

This issue as you all know is being pursued in many parts of the world by countries as diverse as India, Japan, EEU, Australia and Brazil.

It is an opportune time to join this coalition with a united front. The issue has been raised by the recent visit of Helena Paul of the Gaia Institute who was brought out by Biowatch.

I would like to know your thoughts on this issue. I suggest that we link to the biowatch listserver for clarity of communication. My only problem is the technical issue of using the listserver and accessing correspondence!! Can someone fill me in on this?

I also suggest that we spread the coalition through the EJNF, so if any of you are part of that organisation I ask you to call for recognition of the campaign and communication support to the local organisations. I think it is crucial to link an unbiased educational campaign with the launch of the coalition.

In this light we are working on a local version of the Gaia 5 year freeze document here in Cape town. Input is welcome and asked for. We plan to get out info leaflets in the 3 local languages.

Thanks for all of the info re the labelling workshop that some of you sent, as well as the other relevant info.

It seems that a strong coalition is already forming in Durban so we will be able to have a strong platform to move off. One major question is approaching and educating farmers and rural areas of this issue and including the wider populace in this movement.

All the best

Glenn Ashton.

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Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 11:31:16 +0200
From: Andrew Taynton

South African Pro-GE groups out lobbying political parties

Dear Friends

Pro-GE groups out lobbying political parties.

I wrote to several politicians including the State President, Cabinet Ministers, Democratic MP's.

The thrust of my message was; Will Africa become the dumping ground for GM products now that they have been rejected by so many other countries?

What came out of this was the pro-GM group are out there in full force.

The most interactive response I got was from the Democratic Party's Mr Andries Botha, new DP spokesman on Agriculture, he writes:

"Let me hasten to assure you that as a farmer exposed to genetic modification I share your concern in this matter in principle. I would have to confess however that I am a complete layperson and would therefore be loath to comment at this stage.

I am referring your comments to Prof J Thomson, head of Microbiology at UCT and am enclosing a recent article by her on this subject."

Professor J Thomson in her newspaper article "FUTURE FANTASTIC" and a further docment titled "The Genetically Modified Foods Debate In South Africa" is very much in favour of GM and she is advising Mr Botha accordingly.

In a further enclosure in Mr Botha's letter was a fax addressed to him from Mrs Muffy Kock (Tel/Fax 011-318 1397 Email trading as Innovation Biotechnology (ex Secretariat for SAGENE) titled "GM Food Safety and the GMO Act (15,1997)


An hilarious document by Mr Michael Kock (Tel/Fax 011-318 2117; Email , this doc is excellent for a good laugh, titled:

"We can't let a vociferous, Eurocentric minority rob us of safe food and environmentally friendly technology!"

I suggest you get your hands on a copy, the tone reminds me of a desperate sea captain going down on a sinking ship, and trying to convince the passengers that things are looking better by the second, in fact drowning at sea is a wonderful experience, and this is what we live for.

I can fax you copies of these docs, mail me with a number.

I think we need to be more active if possible with political parties, I am sure some of you already are. I think we need to canvass all parties, large and small, and several portfolios ie, health, environment, agriculture and party leadership.

My feeling is we must emphasize that GM has been rejected elsewhere and the biotech companies are now targeting the Developing World to dump products, also that our legislation is not sufficient to cope with this onslaught.

Please forward this Email to anyone who can help.


Safe Food Coalition-KwaZulu Natal, 031-764 2209

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Date: Mon, 30 Aug 1999 14:57:04 +0200

Excellent meeting held in Durban

Dear Friends

Rose Williams from Biowatch in Durban must be congratulated for the anti-GM meeting on Saturday, held at the Natal Herbarium and addressed by Helena Paul from the Gaia Foundation in the UK.

To me it looked as if 2-3 times the number of people expected attended, I would esimate 20-30 ????.

Helena Paul will be addressing Biowatch meetings in Cape Town & JHB very soon, I suggest you try and meet her.

She represents the Genetic Engineering Alliance from the UK. They organised the FIVE YEAR FREESE campaign against GE in the UK.

"The Five Year Freese campaign brings together organisations and individuals who share the public's concern about genetic engineering in food and farming." from Helana's handout.

They have an excellent glossy document put together by Helena.

I feel they have the same aims and goals as the Safe Food Coalition, they are just much further down the track.

I think it would be advantagous for us to approach them and work together very closely with them, they may even allow us to share their documents and literature, we could adapt it for South African conditions.

It will save us having to reinvent the wheel.

An international affiliation would give us more credibility aswell.

Their experience I believe would be invaluable to us.

At the meeting I was able to network with a wide spectrum of activists, concerned government employees, academics, students and many others.

Thanks again Rose and Helena.

I managed to eventually fax through 42 petitions(most complete)re the labelling workshop, some of my signature collectors faxed their own through.

Best Wishes


PS To increase awareness about the dangers of Genetic Modification I would encourage everyone to attach the following to the bottom of every e-mail they send out:

Read the Genetically Manipulated Food News