South Africa Corn Production. Image credit:Chicago Board of Trade.
Cash cropping farmers - those who grow grain to sell on the open market - are accustomed to dealing with reduced yields caused by an unsteady climate, for example; or from insect pests, or a mistake with the amount of added fertilizer. On the other hand, it's pretty hard for farmers not to be outraged when, at harvest season, and while the rest of the nation's farmers are doing pretty well (see graphic), grain yield is zero due to bum seeds. Digital Journal covers the responses of hundreds of South African farmers to their unexpected "seedless" corn in Monsanto GM-corn harvest fails massively in South Africa. Couple' a nice DJ quotes below.
South African farmers suffered millions of dollars in lost income when 82,000 hectares of genetically-manipulated corn (maize) failed to produce hardly any seeds.The plants look lush and healthy from the outside...Some 280 of the 1,000 farmers who planted the three varieties of Monsanto corn this year, have reported extensive seedless corn problems.
Poses some difficulty for the argument that expanded use of GM varieties will increase food production for expanding populations in developing nations.
The impact of this mistake is comparable to what farmers would experience from regional weather extremes: from flooded fields; from windstorms knocking down crops; or, from a severe and protracted drought. Had the "seedless corn" problem been more widespread, the graph presented above could have taken a very noticeable dip, and contributed to a national food and economic crisis. Thankfully it did not.
What are the odds those affected farmers still in business next year will plant genetically modified varieties? That their friends and neighbors will?