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Monsanto GM-corn harvest fails massively in South Africa

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  • Linda Shewan
    Here is the article ... Monsanto GM-corn harvest fails massively in South AfricaRoundup and GM have more than a little in common. It all started in fact with
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 7, 2009
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      Here is the article ...

      Monsanto GM-corn harvest fails massively in South AfricaRoundup and GM have
      more than a little in common. It all started in fact with the "green
      revolution" which can be understood as the development of the means to use
      lots of cheap oil to grow lots of expensive food. We have now reached a
      point where agriculture itself is often defined as "a human activity that
      converts oil into food mostly through the means of land" and where that
      process is almost a global monopoly with Monsanto a prominent name here.
      Monsanto has one goal in life and one goal only and that is to maximize
      profits and this to me is a poor ground for credibility of any sort.


      Digital Journal, March 29 2009. By Adriana Stuijt:

      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

      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

      He denied that the problem was caused in any way by 'bio-technology'.
      Instead, there had been 'insufficient fertilisation during the
      seed-production process'.

      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 [in Afrikaans].


      Michael O'Callaghan

      Little Alders
      Knockrath, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow
      tel: + 353 404 43 885
      mobile: + 353 87 799 4761
      email: mail@... <mailto:mail%40gmfreeireland.org>
      website: www.gmfreeireland.org

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