The African Centre for Biosafety does some very good work and their website is very informative. They describe themselves thus:
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) is a non profit organisation, based in Johannesburg South Africa. It provides authorative, credible, relevant and current information, research and policy analysis on issues pertaining to genetic engineering , biosafety and biopiracy in Africa. The ACB is active in playing an effective role in protecting Africa’s biodiversity, traditional knowledge, food production systems, culture and diversity, from the threats posed by genetic engineering and biopiracy.
They have released an interesting document on GM potatoes in SA. A few years ago GM potatoes were undergoing trials in the USA, but McDonalds did some customer surveys and found that the majority were uncomfortable with the idea of eating french fries made from GM potatoes. MacDonalds indicated to their suppliers that they would not purchase french fried made from GM potatoes and because McDonalds is one of the biggest users of potatoes, the GM potato project was scrapped. This shows the power that the consumer has at the end of the day and should be a lesson for us on how to make an impact.
A paragraph from the ACB document describes what is happening now, with regard to GM potatoes:
Major potato players such as McCains, who dominate the processing and frozen potato industry in South Africa, have indicated their reluctance to use GM potatoes. In the United States, champions of GM technology, GM spuds were shelved because major fast-food chains refused to buy them. Egypt terminated their field trials because their major trading partner, the EU, would not buy them. Now the orphan potato project has found a home – they are being fast-tracked through South Africa’s weak and permissive regulatory framework.
GM potatoes are being touted as tools to benefit small scale farmers, but they have little benefit for the farmer and create major revenues for the patent holders (Syngenta). Apart from this, many countries won’t accept GM foods for import. Which will mean reduced markets for our potato exports.
Once again, the farmers are going to pay the salaries of the fat cats on the boards of these biotech companies. All other related costs (environmental, economic, etc) will be paid by us, the taxpayers.