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The terms of reference were amended on 14 January 1994 to broaden the scope from ‘organisms with recombinant DNA’ to ‘genetically modified organisms’, the term used internationally. SAGENE was to be jointly managed by the CSIR, the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Foundation for Research Development (FRD), the agency responsible for allocating and distributing research grants. Each organisation would nominate a committee member, preferably a ‘molecular biologist of international standing, active in the training and/or research in recombinant DNA and molecular genetics’.

It has provided a regular forum for exchange of information not only between South Africans but between people from many SADC countries. Its workshops, to provide information and training to stakeholders from countries such as Malawi, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, have been particularly successful. It has also run training and advice programmes for smallscale farmers interested in planting GM crops. In 2002 AfricaBio was awarded South Africa’s prestigious National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) award for its outstanding contribution to science and technology.

In the case of herbicidetolerant (HT) maize, farmers also benefited through higher yields. Interestingly enough, ‘Farmers seem to be willing to pay for the weed control convenience of HT maize and, based on adoption figures, farmers value the yield-increasing and labour-saving benefits of HT maize higher than the borer control insurance of Bt maize’. 2 Global area of biotech crops 1996–2012 The ISAAA also publishes the Pocket K series on subjects such as Bt wheat, Bt rice, marker-free GM plants, and briefs on specialised topics, such as the 2009 one, ‘Communicating crop biotechnology: stories from stakeholders’, which includes some fascinating accounts from farmers who grow GM crops in various parts of the world (www.

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