GM maize fails to produce in South Africa
The Times (South Africa), March 22 2009
A mysterious maize crop flop in three provinces has sparked a fresh row over the government's backing of genetically modified agriculture.
Three varieties of genetically modified maize did not pollinate properly this season.
Worst affected are farms in the Free State and North West.
GM maize is touted by the government as an effective way to boost production.
Biotech giant Monsanto will compensate farmers who suffered losses due to the failure of their GM maize varieties, but the company denied the problem was related to genetic modification.
Grain SA this week estimated the failed harvest at between 80000 and 150000 tons. About 280 farmers were affected, out of 1003 who bought the maize.
Grain SA spokesman Nico Hawkins said despite the losses, most farmers were happy with higher yields from GM maize seed.
But the anti-GM lobby warned that the losses may be a sign of worse to come. "We regularly come across unintended side effects from plants that have been genetically engineered," said spokesman Andrew Taynton.