November 2013

The Impact of Biotechnology: from GM Crops to Cheese
By Carolyn Krynauw, Senior Industry Analyst for Chemic...
The Impact of Biotechnology: from GM Crops to Cheese
By Carolyn Krynauw, Senior Industry Analyst for Chemicals Materials &...
The Impact of Biotechnology: from GM Crops to Cheese
By Carolyn Krynauw, Senior Industry Analyst for Chemicals Materials &...
The Impact of Biotechnology: from GM Crops to Cheese
By Carolyn Krynauw, Senior Industry Analyst for Chemicals Materials &...
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The Impact of Biotechnology: from GM Crops to Cheese

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Globally, the genetic modification (GM) debate is a hotly-contested and emotionally-charged one with both sides using scientific evidence to prove their arguments and to disprove those of their opponents. As such, from an observer’s viewpoint, it is often difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. South Africa is no exception writes Carolyn Krynauw, senior industry analyst for the Chemicals Materials and Food division at Frost & Sullivan.

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The Impact of Biotechnology: from GM Crops to Cheese

  1. 1. November 2013 The Impact of Biotechnology: from GM Crops to Cheese By Carolyn Krynauw, Senior Industry Analyst for Chemicals Materials & Food at Frost & Sullivan “50 Years of Growth, Innovation & Leadership”
  2. 2. The Impact of Biotechnology: from GM Crops to Cheese By Carolyn Krynauw, Senior Industry Analyst for Chemicals Materials & Food at Frost & Sullivan Globally, the genetic modification (GM) debate is a hotly-contested and emotionally-charged one with both sides using scientific evidence to prove their arguments and to disprove those of their opponents. As such, from an observer’s viewpoint, it is often difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. South Africa is no exception writes Carolyn Krynauw, senior industry analyst for the Chemicals Materials and Food division at Frost & Sullivan. The intention of this article is to provide a neutral and factual account of what has taken place globally and, more specifically, the recent activities and legislation regarding GM labelling in South Africa, with highlights from other African countries. From GM Crops... In 1983, a tobacco plant displaying a chimaeric antibiotic-resistant gene was created. It was only a matter of time before the molecular defence in a transgenic plant was further developed to create insectresistant plants (1987) 1 from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), and herbicide-tolerant (HT) plants (1994) 2 . Other ongoing developments include gene stacking where two or more novel genes are incorporated into a single plant line, either through traditional hybridisation or technological methods, to construct a GM crop that displays a combination of insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant traits 3 . The first gene stack was granted regulatory approval in the US in 1995 4 . Although various countries, including the UK and US, started to conduct crop trials with GM seeds from 1985 5 , 6 it was only from 1996 onwards that GM crops were grown on a commercial scale, globally. The Adoption of GM Crops in South Africa South Africa’s history with GM crops dates as far back as 1992 when the government approved crop trials of Bt cotton 7 and, in the 1997/1998 agricultural season, South Africa became the first African country to commercially produce this GM crop. This was closely followed by the cultivation of Bt yellow maize and Bt white maize in the 1998/1999 and 2001/2002 seasons, respectively. The latter event placed South Africa in the global spotlight as the first GM-dependent subsistence nation. General release approval of specific GM varieties of HT cotton (2000), HT soybean (2001), HT maize (2002), stacked cotton (2005), and stacked maize (2007) were granted over a 7-year period. The HT maize crop was commercialised in 2003/2004, followed by stacked maize in 2007/2008 8 . 9 Of the sixteen GM seeds available to farmers in South Africa, twelve have been commercialised by Monsanto, three by Syngenta (Bt maize, HT maize, and stacked maize) and one by Pioneer (stacked maize) 10 . 1 Stevens, J et al., Chapter 12: Biotechnological Approaches for the Control of Insect Pests in Crop Plants, Pesticides – Advances in Chemical and Botanical Pesticides, InTech Open Access Company, http://www.intechopen.com/books/pesticides-advances-in-chemical-and-botanicalpesticides/biotechnological-approaches-for-the-control-of-insect-pests-in-crop-plants, September 2013 2 Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment, GM Crop Database, http://cera-gmc .org/index.php?action=gm_crop_database, September 2013 3 Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, Food derived from GM plants containing stacked genes , December 2010, http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/gmfood/stackedgene/Pages/default.aspx, September 2013 4 International Ser vice for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications , Pocket K No. 42: Stacked Traits in Biotech Crops , http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/pocketk/42/, September 2013 5 GeneWatch UK, GM crops: timeline, http://www.genewatch.org/sub-568798, September 2013 6 Grice, A, GM crops needed in Britain, says minister, The Independent, 19 June 2008, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/gm- cropsneeded-in-britain-says-minister-849991.html, September 2013 7 Biowatch South Africa, Frequently asked questions about genetic modification, http://www.biowatch.org.za/about/faq.html, September 2013 8 Gouse, M. 2012. GM Maize as Subsistence Crop: The South African Smallholder Experience, AgBioForum, 15(2): 163-174, http://www.agbioforum.org/v15n2/v15n2a05-gouse.htm, September 2013 9 Biosafety South Africa, Genetically Modified (GM) Crops Granted General Release Approval in South Africa, http://www.biosafety.org.za, September 2013 10 Ibid. © 2013 Frost & Sullivan Page 2
  3. 3. The Impact of Biotechnology: from GM Crops to Cheese By Carolyn Krynauw, Senior Industry Analyst for Chemicals Materials & Food at Frost & Sullivan This brisk adoption of GM crops has placed South Africa in the top ten GM-producing countries, globally. According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), South Africa ranked 8th in 2012, with 2.9 million hectares (29,000 km2) of GM maize, cotton, and soybean, contributing 1.7% to the total 170.3 million hectares (1.7 million km2) planted worldwide 11 . There are only three other African countries that are listed, however their contributions to the worldwide production of GM crops are small to negligible. Burkina Faso ranked 14th with 0.3 million hectares (3000 km2) of cotton, while both Sudan (21st) and Egypt (25th) cultivated equal to or less than 20,000 hectares each (200 km2) of cotton and maize, respectively. However, Sudan’s contribution may increase in future, as the Bt cotton was planted for the first time in 2012. 12 It has been stated that, per capita, South Africa is the largest consumer of GM crops worldwide. 13 In 2012, GM maize comprised 2.5 million hectares (89%) of the 2.8 million hectares cultivated. This represents approximately 80% of white maize and 93% of the yellow maize planted. In addition, 90% (450,000 hectares) of the soybean and 100% (11,000 hectares) of the cotton planted were GM varieties in 2012 season. 14 However, less than half of these locally-grown GM crops are intended for human consumption, as most yellow maize and the vast majority of the soybean grown are used by the animal feed industry, or are exported. The Future of GM in South Africa Future developments for South Africa include a drought-tolerant (DT) GM maize variant, developed by Monsanto, which is currently being trialled in five African countries, namely South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. The first commercial planting season for DT maize was in 2013 in the US and, if the above-mentioned crop trials are successful, it is expected to be ready for commercial use in South Africa by 2015. 15 Various other GM crops are currently undergoing field trials in South Africa. These include sugarcane, cassava, and table grapes. 16 However, the commercialisation of these potential GM crops may negatively impact local agriculture chemical manufacturers in favour of those developed by companies such as Monsanto. Due to the patenting activities of GM seed companies, farmers are tied into agreements that, amongst others, prevent them from planting saved seed and require the use of agrichemicals designed to be co-used with the patented GM seed. Debating the Issue Globally, as well as locally, consumers have raised concerns over the long-term environmental and health impacts of GM crops, as well as the seed-related oligopoly in the food supply chain. However, this is not an appropriate podium for reiterating ongoing arguments to which there are dozens of websites dedicated. The South African government has embraced the use of GM crops, for better or for worse, and currently the debate is centred on the labelling of food products using GM crops. 11 International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, ISAA Brief44-2012: Executive Summary, http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/44/executivesummary/, September 2013 12 Ibid. 13 Department of Agricultre, Forestry, and Fisheries, DAFFNews, June 2013, “Drought tolerant maize can feed millions of people,” No.6, pg 12 14 Harvest SA, 7 March 2013, “Record GMO crops in 2012,” http://www.harvestsa.co.za/articles/record-gmo-crops-in-2012-4999.html, September 2013 15 Department of Agricultre, Forestry, and Fisheries, DAFFNews, June 2013, “Drought tolerant maize can feed millions of people,” No.6, pg 12 16 Joubert, R. 9 April 2012, “GM crops riding high,” Farmer’s Weekly, http://www.farmersweekly.co.za/article.aspx?id=17013&h=GM-cropsriding-high, September 2013 © 2013 Frost & Sullivan Page 3
  4. 4. The Impact of Biotechnology: from GM Crops to Cheese By Carolyn Krynauw, Senior Industry Analyst for Chemicals Materials & Food at Frost & Sullivan South Africa introduced its controversial GM labelling regulations in the form of the Consumer Protection Act, 2008 (Act No. 68 of 2008). Food manufacturers are only required to disclose the inclusion of GM ingredients in their products if it surpasses 5% of the ingredients or components, irrespective of whether the product was manufactured locally or imported. This is a much higher threshold than the 0.9% ruling in the European Union—the same percentage that the African Union urged its members to use. 17 Draft amendments were made in October 2011. However, these have yet to be finalised and passed. Significant stakeholder criticism and debate is ongoing due to various labelling complexities and ambiguities. 18 As such, the decision has been pending for more than a year. Those agreeing with a GM labelling requirement state they have a right to know whether or not their favourite brands contain GM ingredients, while those negating it state that such labelling requirements will unnecessarily villainise GMrelated food. Regardless, there is still partial compliance within the South African food industry, leaving a portion of the population indignant. In the end, the power rests with consumers at the retail level. However, if one considers the socio-economic situation of millions of South Africans, only a minority may truly boycott or “punish” brands for using GM ingredients. In future, the use of GM crops will probably have a greater impact on the agrichemical market, mostly negative for local manufacturers of non-GM related chemicals, than it will on the brand preferences of consumers, states Frost & Sullivan. ...to Cheese It is interesting that certain South Africans, and their global counterparts, continue to protest about the cultivation and use of GM crops in their breakfast cereal, yet have they questioned the use of GM in food processing, such as chymosin in hard cheese, and in food supplements, such as riboflavin (vitamin B2)? With the current labelling requirements in South Africa and with disclosure only required once the inclusion of GM ingredients surpasses the 5% mark, one will never know. Thought provoking. 17 African Centre for Biosafety, Comments on: Regulations to the Consumer Protection Act related to labelling of Genetically Modified Organisms: Regulation 9.1 for the purposes of Section 24(6), http://labelgmfoods.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Comments-onRegulations-to-the-Consumer-Protection-Act.pdf, September 2013 18 Harvest SA, 7 March 2013, “Record GMO crops in 2012,” http://www.harvestsa.co.za/articles/record-gmo-crops-in-2012-4999.html, September 2013 About Frost & Sullivan Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants. For more than 50 years, we have been developing growth strategies for the Global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector and the investment community. Is your organisation prepared for the next profound wave of industry convergence, disruptive technologies, increasing competitive intensity, Mega Trends, breakthrough best practices, changing customer dynamics and emerging economies? CONTACT US • +27 (0) 21 680 360 © 2013 Frost & Sullivan Page 4 • www.frost.com

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