Environmental watchdogs call for closer GM scrutiny in SA Biowatch South Africa has called on government to tighten legislation governing the introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops into South Africa. The group of environment protectors made the call after the American agrochemicals giant, Monsanto, was found guilty of bribery in Indonesia. Monsanto has already introduced genetically modified cotton, maize and soya beans into South Africa. Biowatch believes that South Africa does not allow enough public oversight in the granting of permits to introduce genetically engineered crops.
Last year they began legal action against the Department of Agriculture that is designed to allow the public access to information about genetically engineered crops. Monsanto joined the department against Biowatch to try and protect their commercial confidentiality. Judgement is still pending on the case. Biowatch has also expressed the concern that large corporations will gain a stranglehold on the world's seed supplies – and then have a virtual monopoly on the pesticides and herbicides needed to grow them.
Monsanto was fined US$1.5 million after they admitted that one of their employees bribed a government official in an attempt to prevent their GM cotton being subjected to environmental impact studies in Indonesia. They also admitted that this was not the only bribe money that changed hands. The fine money was divided between the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.