South Africa has robust and experienced regulatory system for genetically engineered products, which started with the publication of the “GMO” Act of 1997. Today, South Africa is amongst the top-10 largest producers of GE crops in the world and has approved 27 GE plant events for commercial production contained in three commodities, namely, corn, soybeans, and cotton. South Africa’s corn yields doubled over the past 20 years, while soybean production improved 10-fold.
However, in 2021 South Africa decided to apply the same risk assessments for products engineered by “New Breeding Techniques” as for “GMO” products. This approach runs counter to practices introduced in several other countries around the globe, which have determined that certain products produced using innovative techniques should be exempt from biotechnology regulations. These strict regulations could impede future innovative research and agricultural productivity and trade.