Rachel Wynberg and David Fig
Biowatch South Africa
General public, non-profit organisations, agricultural and scientific decision-makers
Biowatch South Africa is a non-profit organisation that, according to its website, “works with small-holder farmers, other civil society organisations and government to ensure that people have control over their food, agricultural processes and resources, and other natural resources”. For nine years, Biowatch SA fought a legal battle with the South African government and agri-biotech giant Monsanto for access to information about genetically-modified crops in South Africa. Eventually, the Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled in Biowatch’s favour, overturning unjust cost orders against Biowatch SA and forcing Monsanto to pay for the costs of the case.
This book, published by Biowatch SA itself and made freely available on its website, documents the court cases, behind-the-scenes meetings and institutional processes that Biowatch went through over the course of its nine-year court case. It is a story of right over might and a triumph for South Africa’s civil society and judicial system. Perhaps most importantly, the court case instigated a reform of legislation related to genetically-modified organisms in South Arica to make the process more transparent.