Impacts of Genetically Modified Organisms
What do we do?
We conduct research and monitoring on the environmental impacts of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in South Africa. This includes research on non-target organisms, target organisms, gene flow and ecological impacts.
We directly fulfill SANBI's mandate, which states: (we) "must monitor and report regularly to the Minister on the environmental impacts of all categories of genetically modified organisms, post commercial release, based on research that identifies and evaluates risk".
What have we achieved and what services, outputs do we provide?
- Undertake focused research and provide scientific analysis and synthesis of information that will contribute to the development of a scientifically sound monitoring programme for the impacts of GMOs on biodiversity.
- Build capacity for GMO research and monitoring among South African scientists and students.
- Create collaborative research opportunities between South African scientists and institutions such as: University of the Free State, North West University, University of Fort Hare, University of Minnesota (USA) and Genok (Norway).
Why is this activity important?
- Genetically modified crops are being cultivated around the world, including South Africa.
- South Africa adopted GM crops in 1997, and currently produces GM maize, soybean and cotton.
- SANBI has been mandated to develop a monitoring programme suited to a South African environment and farming culture. One such way is to utilize structured risk analysis tools and stakeholder involvement to determine the most relevant biodiversity monitoring endpoints. In addition, SANBI is conducting South African-specific research on GMOs and their potential impacts on the environment. This information will address knowledge gaps and contribute to building capacity related to biodiversity, GMOs and biosafety.
The GMO Monitoring and Research Unit is based at SANBI's Pretoria office.
For more details contact: Theressa Franz