Oh no, GMO!
Oh no, GMO!
Controversy roars around genetically modified organisms, mainly because so many of them are in our food. Genetically modified (GM) seeds are developed in a laboratory by inserting genes from another species. According to the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), South African consumers are the only ones in the world eating GM maize as a staple food.
The ACB asserts that there is no credible, scientific evidence to support the view that it is safe for humans to consume GM foods on a long-term basis. A recent peer reviewed two-year study at Caen University in France claims that GM foods are more likely to cause cancer and impact liver and kidney function. The researchers found that rats fed GM maize had a higher mortality rate than those eating other types of food. However, Cambridge Professor David Spiegelhalter stated that, “the methods, stats and reporting of results are all well below the standard I would expect in a rigorous study”.
Prof Philip Machanick, a member of the Rhodes University Bioinformatics Research Group, suggested that “a more logical niche for a labour-rich capital-poor part of the world is organic agriculture… contamination from GMO pollination wrecks that prospect”. He noted, “maize, as a wind-pollinated crop, is especially susceptible to leakage”.
Prof Jennifer Thomson, a Rhodes graduate and keen advocate of genetically engineered crops in Africa, believes that GM crops allow smallholder farmers to improve their yields and dismissed concerns that local heirloom varieties will be ‘polluted’ by GM crops as ‘alarmist’. The Monsanto-funded scientist states on her web page: “No one is forcing farmers to buy seed from any given company”.
The ACB has called for the government to ban GM maize in SA. Last week the Department of Trade and Industry conceded that consumers have a right to know what they are eating and are amending the regulations to state that all food containing 5% or more genetically modified ingredients or components must be labelled. To view the draft amendments visit www.acbio.org.za/ACB_35776_9-10_TradeIndustryCV01.pdf. The deadline for public comments, to Mr Ntutuzelo Vananda on Nvananda@thedti.gov.za, is 9 November 2012.
Take shots to kill illegal trade
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is working with africam.com to bring the illegal wildlife trade to its knees.
The WWF invites the public to go on a virtual African safari online to see wild animals roaming free from webcams erected at watering holes. At the Africam site you can take snapshots with the ‘safari camera’ and use your pictures to help spread the word to kill the trade that kills our wildlife.
Come for the birds
Every month the Diaz Cross Bird Club leads an outing to a local area of birding interest. Saturday before last they visited a very rewarding venue, Mosslands, home of the Two River hiking trail. The farm nestled in the beautiful Kariega and Assegaai River valleys has an abundance of birds, including the African crowned eagle, Knysna turacos (most locals still call them Loeries), Knysna and Olive woodpeckers, six different weaver species and many more.
The bird club also holds monthly meetings on a Tuesday evening in the Public Library Hall in Hill Street. Tonight (16 October) Sarah Laas has prepared a fun quiz, which begins at 7.30pm. All are welcome.
Apply for workshop to make Earth a better home
The Applied Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science (Access) is holding a Habitable Planet Workshop in the Western Cape from 4-13 December. Successful applicants will receive funding to visit the Western Cape where they will learn about Earth System Science and just what makes our earth habitable.
Students who wish to apply can find more info at www.access.ac.za
Young environmentalists honoured at Rhodes awards
Congratulations to the winners at this year’s Rhodes University Environmental Awards. Brett Sutherland won the individual category and Allan Webb Hall emerged at the top of the student society/residence category. Their achievements were honoured at the celebratory function on Friday 5 October, hosted by vice chancellor Dr Saleem Badat and the university's Environmental Committee.
Badat congratulated the winners for playing a leading role in promoting environmental sustainability at Rhodes and beyond.
At the award ceremony it was a privilege also to be addressed by the legendary Prof Mervyn King. For more info go to www.ru.ac.za/environment/committee/environmentalawards/2012awards/
Contacts for Makana Enviro-News:
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