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May 06, 2009

More genetically-modifed maize planted in SA

Plantings of genetically modified (GM) maize in South Africa have increased dramatically, agriculture company Monsanto said on May 5.

Of the white maize planted in the Delmas, Nigel and Leandra in Mpumalanga 74 percent was GM and of the yellow maize 67 percent, Kobus Steenekamp, biotechnology and chemical products manager said a statement. While unable to give comparative figures, he said they had been "substantially" lower in the previous year. He told farmers in Delmas during a farmers' day that the market for GM-free maize was dwindling - only 750 000 tons of GM-free maize were required at present, relatively similar to last year's numbers.

Steenekamp told farmers they stood to benefit from other new products being developed.

One of them was YieldGard, which would eliminate the possibility of stalk borer resistance. Experiments had been underway in South Africa for the past two seasons, he said.

The second product was maize that would utilise nitrogen better.

"This means that less nitrogen can be applied in future to ensure the same yield, or that the yield could be better with the same nitrogen application as at present."

Also in the pipeline was drought-tolerant maize.

"South Africa is not lagging behind when it comes to drought tolerant GM maize - Monsanto has concluded two years of very successful trials in the Northern Cape."

It was expected that drought tolerant maize would be available to South African farmers by 2012.

This type of maize also allowed farmers who irrigated their crops to use considerably less water.


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