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conceptual mapping >  community-based science and technologies  > Monsanto’s GM Drought-Tolerant Maize in South Africa

African Centre for Biosafety (ACB)

Monsanto’s GM Drought-Tolerant Maize in South Africa

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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, and involves a large set of genes in the expression of a complex trait like drought tolerance.

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.

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 land and is reported as stating that trials conducted during 2006 showed an increase in yield of 23.2% compared to non-GM production.

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.

date of on-line publication : 25 June 2007

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