South Africa: Friday Activist - Mariam Mayet


Meet the fighter who believes in sacredness, also in people and planet before profits and in the possibility of carving out a new world even as we endure the crisis of Covid-19.

Fair warning: you should never poke a tiger and "not one with long claws". It's what Mariam Mayet says of herself in explaining the "tyger -with a y" that's in her email address.

Mayet is the executive director of the African Centre for Biodiversity and is an anti-GMO, food sovereignty and food security activist. It was back in the mid-90s that she became aware of how South Africa was already "a protagonist in planting genetically modified GM crops" without widespread public consultation, knowledge or consideration for potential impacts on the environment and human health, she says.

"GMOs brought into sharp relief so many converging issues about inequality, the extent of corporate power and that our government was complicit," says Mayet.

It angered the tiger; it was a slap in the face, really, from a democratic government that had emerged from a hard-won political struggle to be distracted from focusing on transformation "even just the basics of education, healthcare and transport", she says.

Mayet, who grew up in a...

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