Skip to comments.Monsanto GM-corn harvest fails massively in South Africa
Posted on 04/17/2009 9:28:02 AM PDT by Squidpup
South African farmers suffered millions of dollars in lost income when 82,000 hectares of genetically-manipulated corn (maize) failed to produce hardly any seeds.The plants look lush and healthy from the outside. Monsanto has offered compensation. Monsanto blames the failure of the three varieties of corn planted on these farms, in three South African provinces,on alleged 'underfertilisation processes in the laboratory". Some 280 of the 1,000 farmers who planted the three varieties of Monsanto corn this year, have reported extensive seedless corn problems.
Urgent investigation demanded However environmental activitist Marian Mayet, director of the Africa-centre for biosecurity in Johannesburg, demands an urgent government investigation and an immediate ban on all GM-foods, blaming the crop failure on Monsanto's genetically-manipulated technology.
Willem Pelser, journalist of the Afrikaans Sunday paper Rapport, writes from Nelspruit that Monsanto has immediately offered the farmers compensation in three provinces - North West, Free State and Mpumalanga. The damage-estimates are being undertaken right now by the local farmers' cooperative, Grain-SA. Monsanto claims that 'less than 25%' of three different corn varieties were 'insufficiently fertilised in the laboratory'.
80% crop failure However Mayet says Monsanto was grossly understating the problem.According to her own information, some farms have suffered up to 80% crop failures. The centre is strongly opposed to GM-food and biologically-manipulated technology in general.
"Monsanto says they just made a mistake in the laboratory, however we say that biotechnology is a failure.You cannot make a 'mistake' with three different varieties of corn.'
Demands urgent government investigation: "We have been warning against GM-technology for years, we have been warning Monsanto that there will be problems,' said Mayet. She calls for an urgent government investigation and an immediate ban on all GM-foods in South Africa.
Of the 1,000 South African farmers who planted Monsanto's GM-maize this year, 280 suffered extensive crop failure, writes Rapport.
Monsanto's local spokeswoman Magda du Toit said the 'company is engaged in establishing the exact extent of the damage on the farms'. She did not want to speculate on the extent of the financial losses suffered right now.
Managing director of Monsanto in Africa, Kobus Lindeque, said however that 'less than 25% of the Monsanto-seeded farms are involved in the loss'. He says there will be 'a review of the seed-production methods of the three varieties involved in the failure, and we will made the necessary adjustments.'
He denied that the problem was caused in any way by 'bio-technology'. Instead, there had been 'insufficient fertilisation during the seed-production process'.
And Grain-SA's Nico Hawkins says they 'are still support GM-technology; 'We will support any technology which will improve production.' see
He also they were 'satisfied with Monsanto's handling of the case,' and said Grain-SA was 'closely involved in the claims-adjustment methodology' between the farmers and Monsanto.
Farmers told Rapport that Monsanto was 'bending over backwards to try and accommodate them in solving the problem.
"It's a very good gesture to immediately offer to compensate the farmers for losses they suffered,' said Kobus van Coller, one of the Free State farmers who discovered that his maize cobs were practically seedless this week.
"One can't see from the outside whether a plant is unseeded. One must open up the cob leaves to establish the problem,' he said. The seedless cobs show no sign of disease or any kind of fungus. They just have very few seeds, often none at all.
The South African supermarket-chain Woolworths already banned GM-foods from its shelves in 2000. However South African farmers have been producing GM-corn for years: they were among the first countries other than the United States to start using the Monsanto products.
The South African government does not require any labelling of GM-foods. Corn is the main staple food for South Africa's 48-million people.
The three maize varieties which failed to produce seeds were designed with a built-in resistance to weed-killers, and manipulated to increase yields per hectare, Rapport writes.
ping for later
A great reason NOT to permit seed monopolies to exist in the market place ...
Pretty costly mistake.
I don’t have major issues with GM foods but sometimes because you can isn’t a good enough reason.
They better leave the job to the bees! You can’t fool Mother Nature!
I don’t think that’s the correct take away from this case.
Seedless corn? Isn’t that cornless corn? Sounds more like a pollination problem.
They just have to market it as “new diet corn”!
Corn isn't bee pollinated. It is pollenated by winds.
The problem is, if you can produce a variety of food in the marketplace that doesn’t seed, for whatever reason and these varieties become the standard...what are you left to fall back on should something like this happen? If “natural” and yes I am quoting that because while not bioengineered, no modern cultivate crop ios from from having been manipulated by human intervention at some point along the way, plants aren’t being grown, you don’t have seed for the next year.
Monsanto is the devil.
Monsanto gave a failed corny response.
Shame when plants refuse to fornicate in the lab.
“In countries where the rule of law exists, Monsanto is liable for damages big time. Monsanto has the right to develop and sell its own exclusive variety of corn. the African farmers have the right to file a lawsuit and to shop for straight varieties (non-Bt) corn. Just because Monsanto has developed a line that failed or can’t be used for re-seeding in subsequent years doesn’t mean all other varieties have disappeared from the marketplace.”
All fine well and good ... and my comments are not in opposition to GM seeds or plants. I am very concerned about a monopoly of seed corn as any subsequent failure can lead to wide spread starvation. Sure, a lawsuit will be filed but who does it help after the fact?
I don’t know that immediate remedy is available unless a judge would be asked to take some emergency action (food money, etc) for these farmers. If Monsanto wants to continue to do business, they’d better be thinking of something.
It’s still best done by nature.
I've worked on a project trying to raise corn in Africa. Note that only 280 out of 1,000 had a problem. don't jump to conclusions because THIS ARTICLE HAS AN AGENDA!
There are a lot of management problems raising corn there. Fertility is a PROBLEM! Half of our US donated supplies of seed, fert and chem, disappeared to the high govt officials and the local farms crops were bad. To get the tillage and planting done on our project we had to hire the equivalent of the state department of transpiration - didn't work.
The odds of raising a good crop there are slim and none. Based on the above numbers, I would say it was a success.
“Monsanto is the devil.”
Oh really? I just thot they were a publically held corporation—i.e. MON, based in St. Louis.
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