Friday, September 24, 2010

GM or starvation ?

South Africa produces too much maize. Its neighbours not enough. But rather than feeding those without , South Africa's surplus maize may feed Chinese chickens. South African farmers grew 13 million tonnes of maize in the harvest that ended around May. That included a surplus of four million tonnes, an excess that has pushed down prizes and threatens to bankrupt 10,000 farmers. Most of South Africa's neighbours had bumper harvests as well, driving down demand.
"The industry was not prepared for what happened. The surplus was causing panic. Over-production is not a sustainable way of producing," said Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety.

Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, which suffer chronic food shortages, refuse to accept South African maize because of worries about importing genetically modified organisms. South Africa began planting genetically modified crops in the 1990s, and now they account for 57 percent of all maize planted in the country. Often the harvests are mixed together at mills, so that importers consider all maize as genetically modified. In April, Kenyan environmentalists blocked a shipment of 40,000 tonnes of South African maize at port in Mombasa.

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