Monsanto’s GM Drought-Tolerant Maize in South Africa

Monsanto’s GM Drought-Tolerant Maize in South Africa


African Centre for Biosafety
1 May 2007


During March 2007, the South African GMO authorities gave Monsanto
permission to conduct experiments involving GM drought tolerant maize in
open field trials in South Africa. As a result of the extremely limited
opportunities for civil society to intervene in GMO permit applications
in South Africa the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) was prevented
from objecting to the application in a timeous manner. Nevertheless, we
offer this paper as a contribution to the biosafety discourse and our
commitment to monitoring the GM industry.

Our research has revealed that transgenic drought tolerance is at least
8 to ten years away from approaching commercialisation, 1 and involves a
large set of genes in the expression of a complex trait like drought

Nevertheless GM drought tolerant crops are being used as powerful PR
tools by the biotech machinery and strategic philanthropy such as the
Rockerfeller Foundation to promote acceptance of GM crops, expand
existing markets and develop new markets.2

The field trials in South Africa is designed to win Monsanto credibility
in Africa since it can now claim that it is developing GM crops adapted
to the needs of poor African farmers. Already Monsanto is claiming that
drought-tolerant technology would lead to yield insurance, yield
enhancement and cost-savings on irrigated land3 and is reported as
stating that trials conducted during 2006 showed an increase in yield of
23.2% compared to non-GM production.4

Recently, Europabio’s Simon Barber revealed that GM drought tolerant
crops would go a long way towards changing European perceptions towards
GMOs, particularly in
Eastern and Central Europe where their use is limited due to moral and
health concerns.5

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