Highlights

On December 5, 2016, the Registrar of the GMO Act informed stakeholders that all corn Genetically Engineered (GE) events that have been causing asynchrony with the United States have been approved by the Executive Council and invited applications for permits from importers.

Biotechnology: Asynchronous Approvals

Due to the slow pace of approval by the South African government, the United States was not allowed to export GE corn to be used for food and feed to South Africa. Although all of the GE corn events currently commercially produced in South Africa were developed in the United States, United States' commercial corn could not be exported to South Africa as South Africa and the United States were not synchronous in terms of certain GE event approvals for corn. The application process for commodity import permits requires that the exporting country must have approved the same type and number of GE events that have been approved in South Africa. South Africa can import GE corn from Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. Post was hoping that the South African government would have approved all six outstanding events for commodity clearance, which would allow for the importation as food or feed, at their Executive Council meeting held in mid-September. However, only four of the events where approved at the meeting for commodity clearance. At the November meeting of the Executive Council one more event was approved, leaving one event unapproved. However, on December 5, 2016, the Registrar of the GMO act informed stakeholders that all corn GE events that have been causing asynchrony with the United States have been approved by the Executive Council and invited applications for permits from importers.

For the 2015/16 MY, post estimates that South Africa will have to import about 3.0 million tons of corn, as the drought reduced normal corn production by almost 40 percent. So far in the 2015/16 MY, South Africa has already imported almost 1.1 million tons of yellow corn, mainly from Argentina, and 595,000 tons of white corn, mainly from Mexico. South Africa also imported 15,000 tons of non-GE white corn from the United States. With the South African market know open for GE corn from the United States, industry experts estimated South Africa could import about 300,000 tons of GE white corn and 500,000 tons of GE yellow corn from the United States.

All the corn GE events that have received commodity clearance in South Africa since 2001 are indicated. Commodity clearance means the importation of these events for the use as food and/or feed are allowed. Thirteen GE corn events have been approved in 2016, including the six events that caused asynchrony with the United States.