Cablegate: South African Government Stands Up to Activists On
UNCLAS PRETORIA 005223
STATE FOR EB/TPP/ABT/BTT/DMALAC, JBOBO
STATE ALSO FOR AF/S, AF/EPS, OES/STC
USDA FOR FAS/ICD AND ITP/SIMMONS
PLS PASS USAID FOR EGAT/AG
E.O. 12948: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD TSPL SENV ECON SF
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT STANDS UP TO ACTIVISTS ON
1. Following the recent passage of a World Conservation
Union resolution recommending a moratorium on the further
release of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), South
African anti-GMO activist groups Biowatch and African Centre
for Biosafety blasted the Government of South Africa for its
failure to support the resolution, claiming the government
was kowtowing to multinational biotechnology corporations.
2. Local media quoted Director General of Environmental
Affairs and Tourism Dr. Crispian Olver's explanation of the
government's position: "The government could not support the
call because it was not properly phrased or thought through.
We want the IUCN to focus on building up a scientific base.
Making rash calls like this undermines the IUCN's
3. Comment. The SAG speaks from experience. It has a
national biotech strategy and science-based biosafety regime
in place, and has approved several varieties of genetically
engineered commodities for commercial planting in South
Africa. The government also supports significant programs
in biotech research, development and commercialization.
Success of a locally-developed product would go a long way
towards quelling the anti-GMO lobby's protests, which center
on the dominance of multinational corporations in plant