Question NW2108 to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and FisheriesQUESTION

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22 August 2017 - NW2108

Profile picture: Matiase, Mr NS

Matiase, Mr NS to ask the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and FisheriesQUESTION

(1) Who owns the intellectual property for the seeds of water efficient maize for Africa (WEMA) in South Africa? (2) How does the royalty-free component of the project work, especially in relation to the off-patents MON 810, the DT trait, other Bt and the herbicide tolerant traits?


1. In terms of the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act, no WEMA varieties have been granted intellectual property protection (plant breeders’ rights) yet. The department received 05 applications of genetically modified WEMA varieties on 07 September 2016 and these are still under consideration. The applicant in this regard is the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (Kenya) and the South African agent is the Agricultural Research Council (ARC).

2. Monsanto donated the drought trait (DT – MON87460) and Bt (MON89034) to smallholder farmers in South Africa. In the other WEMA partner countries (Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) Monsanto donated the drought trait and Bt (MON810).

Under the WEMA projects, in South Africa a smallholder farmer is defined as a farmer growing up to three hectares (3 ha) of maize. The seed of WEMA hybrids with the Bt and/or DT genes is sold to smallholder farmers royalty free; that is the seed company should consider the fact that they do not need to collect any royalty for Monsanto when they work out the prices; it is up to each seed company to set its own price. The expectation of the WEMA project is that WEMA hybrids should be more affordable to smallholder farmers. The seed of WEMA hybrids is packaged in 2kg, 5kg and 10kg

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