This is a press statement by the Malaysian Food Security and Sovereignty Forum of which SAM is a member of
We are very concerned about the recent announcement on the website of the National Biosafety Department (JBK), Ministry of Environment and Water, on an application for approval submitted by Bayer Co. (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. to import and distribute herbicide-resistant maize, MON87429 that has been genetically modified (GM). The purpose of the import and release is to supply or offer for sale/ placing on the market for direct use as food, feed and for processing (FFP) of MON 87429 maize. This means that MON87429 maize may enter Malaysia as grain, food ingredients for processing or packaging or as finished products ready for distribution, or as feed meal for animals.
The GM maize to be imported is derived from common corn Zea mays with the added characteristics of tolerance to dicamba herbicides, glufosinate, aryloxyphenoxypropionate (AOPP) inhibitor acetylcoenzyme A carboxylase (ACCase) and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D). This GM maize isproduced through genetic modification technology by combining DNA materials from maize and four bacteria that become donor organisms namely Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, Streptomyces viridochromogenes, Sphingobium herbicidovorans, and Agrobacterium sp. strain CP4.
The application for the importation and sale of this maize raises serious concerns about its impact on humans and the environment. Over the years, since 2010 there have been other approvals for FFP use of GM corn besides others such as GM soybean, potato, sugar beet, cotton, oil seed rape, and canola.
There is a risk of genetic contamination from the GM maize to conventional corn grown in fields as well as corn grown in homes and villages when it is distributed into the market. Although the importers claim that the potential spread of this GM maize to the environment is limited to the occurrence of spills in the handling process and state that this maize is unable to germinate because it requires optimal environmental conditions such as in a large farm, it still should not be taken lightly.
Currently, although not the main crop of the country, maize is widely grown in most areas in Malaysia because it is easy to grow and suitable for hot and humid weather conditions here. Maize is an open pollination species (wind & insects). It will easily cross pollinate other neighbouring maize production. Not to mention if there are irresponsible parties processing the seeds and growing this GM maize without the knowledge of the authorities. In fact, according to the GM Contamination Register, until 2014 the maize crop had the second-highest number of GM contamination incidents at 25% or 98 incidents after paddy (34% or 134 incidents).
This MON87429 maize is specially designed to be tolerant to agricultural pesticides and of course, has a higher probability of survival when the area on which this maize grows is sprayed with herbicides. As was the case with the MR220 CL2 rice variety that was cross-bred with weedy rice, the same incident also has the potential to occur with this GM maize.
The process of genetic modification is known to be unstable and can lead to uncontrolled consequences. There are studies showing that these genetically modified organisms have altered the levels of metabolites in rice and maize that are resistant to herbicides. Such rice and maize produce compounds that are toxic to humans in certain contexts. There is very little information about this GM maize variety. No open details at the molecular level are available to ensure that this genetic modification of maize does not cause any undesirable effects. In light of the gaps in knowledge on the impacts of this GM maize, the precautionary principle has to be applied – this is required in the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol that Malaysia joined in 2003, and incorporated in the National Biosafety Act 2007. This means that Bayer’s application for the import and release of MON87429 maize must be rejected. We also urge the National Biosafety Board to revoke all previous approvals of other GM events.
Nurfitri Amir Muhammad
for and on behalf of the
Malaysian Food Sovereignty Forum (FKMM)
List of FKMM Members and other organisations supporting this statement:
- Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP)
- Frangipani Natural Farm
- Greenpeace Malaysia
- Ikatan Intelegensia Membangun Malaysia (IIMAM)
- Komuniti Pondok Sukun (Kompos)
- Malaysian Institute of Sustainable Agriculture (MISA)
- Natural Farming Association of Malaysia (NFAM)
- Organic Alliance Malaysia (OAM)
- Persatuan Melayu Marudi (PMM)
- Persatuan Penduduk Iban Marudi, Baram (PPIMB)
- Persatuan Penduduk Kampung Uma Bawang (PPKUB)
- Persatuan Penduduk Rumah Labang Nanga Seridan Tinjar Beluru Miri (PPRLNSTBM)
- Persatuan Penduduk Sungai Buri Bakong Marudi (PPSBBM)
- Persatuan Penduduk Sungai Melikat Marudi, Baram (PPSMMB)
- Persatuan Usahawan Tani Cinta Alam Kelantan (PUNCAK)
- Persatuan Agroekologi Malaysia (SRI-Mas)
- Pertubuhan Alam Sekitar Sejahtera Malaysia (GRASS Malaysia)
- Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam (PEKA)
- Pertubuhan Pembangunan Antarabangsa & Penyelidikan Untuk Kelestarian (IDRIS Assc.)
- Pertubuhan Persaudaraan Pesawah Malaysia (PeSAWAH)
- Pertubuhan Rangkaian Pembangunan Kesinambungan Malaysia (SUSDEN Malaysia)
- Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)
- Third World Network (TWN)