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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
22 September 2003
NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT: BIODIVERSITY BILL
Chairperson: Ms Mahlangu
Documents handed out
National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Bill as amended
National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Bill [B30B-2003]
The Committee held deliberations on the Biodiversity Bill, and considered the changes that had been effected by the department after the public hearings. Members of the committee enquired if the department had control on genetically modified crops so as to minimise their negative impact.
Chairperson noted that the Bill has been tabled before the National Council of Provinces.
National Environmental Management Biodiversity Bill
Ms Sello (Director: Biodiversity) briefly outlined the comments made during the public hearings and the changes effected pursuant to the public hearings. She pointed out that in chapter 5 of the Bill, new part 3, which contains clause 76A, had been inserted to deal to provide for biodiversity safety by restricting activities involving genetically modified organisms.
Chapter 6 had been revisited, however the department would try with what was within its capacity to deal with the issue of indigenous knowledge. The list of biological resources had been deleted.
Mr Moorcroft (DA) noted that he was looking forward to seeing the amended version of the Bill very soon.
Mr Arendse (ANC) asked what control the department had, on genetically modified crops and avoid their negative impact.
Ms Sello (Department) explained that each application to produce genetically modified crops would go through a screening process by the department of Agriculture, on a case by case basis, and each applicant was required to set out its impact study on environment.
Mr Arendse (ANC) asked if the department was in a position to tell the committee about the types of genetically modified crops and where such crops were produced, as well the farmers that were involved.
Mr Moocroft (ANC) referred to clause 76A of the Bill and he pointed to the effect that there was a Genetically Modified Act. He asked whether the provisions contained in the Bill which impact on genetically modified crops would not conflict with the Genetically Modified Act.
Ms Sello (Department) said that the department of Agriculture had been consulted during the drafting process of the Bill. The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism could only act on those issues that affected the environment, which would not necessarily fall under Genetically Modified Act.
Responding to the question asked by Mr Arendse, Ms Sello pointed that the department knew where the genetically modified crops were, however there was an information that would not be accessible to the public for example trade mark secrets. In certain instances the name of the place where the trials were conducted would not be disclosed so as to avoid the possibilities of vandalisation of such places.
Mr Wadee (Animal Welfare) was concerned with the wording of clause 8(1) of the Bill. The clause as it stood was suggesting that it could override NEM whenever there was a conflict between the proposed Bill and NEM and consequently would render the provisions of the Animal Protection Act redundant. There was a need for a regulatory legislation as opposed to a criminal legislation. He proposed the establishment of an oversight body.
He pointed out that as Animal Welfare they strongly believed that the Animal Protection Act was inappropriate to deal with some of their concerns raised during the public hearings.
Ms Sello (Department) noted that as the department, they sympathise with the frustrations posited by the Animal Welfare, however it would not be appropriate to legislate for such issues under the proposed legislation. She further noted that the Bill was a sectorial legislation under NEMA hence a conflict would never arise between the Bill and NEMA.
Chairperson pointed out that the committee would consider the concerns raised by Animal Welfare on the following day..
The meeting was adjourned.
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