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Crop Biotech Update

South Africa GM Maize Gets Commodity Clearance

August 3, 2012

South Africa's Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) confirms that an application for commodity clearance of genetically modified (GM) maize- DAS-40278-9 - from Dow Agro Sciences was approved in May 2012.

In a press release, DAFF said that the "GM maize has been modified to be resistant to the herbicide 2, 4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (commonly referred to as 2, 4-D). This trait is achieved through the expression of a protein (enzyme) in the maize which degrades 2, 4-D into herbicidally-inactive 2, 4-dichlorophenol (DCP). This means that in the production of the GM maize, an herbicide spraying regime may be applied which will not affect the GM maize."

Media articles have codenamed the GM maize as "Agent Orange Maize" in reference to the apparent use of 2, 4-D as a chemical weapon in the Vietnam War. DAFF, however, said that a review by a scientific panel and Executive Council stressed the safety assessments of the introduced trait (the enzyme which degrades 2, 4-D) and the safety of the derived food and feeds.

The DAFF press release is at http://allafrica.com/stories/201207260942.html.