April 9, 2010
A shipment of genetically modified (GM) maize has been blocked at the Kenyan port of Mombasa after protests by environmentalists. GM imports have been banned in several African countries. The 40,000-tonne shipment contained four varieties of maize, three of which were made by Monsanto.
Mariam Mayet, an activist at the South African-based African Centre for Biosafety, criticised her government’s policy. “The way it is, one is inclined to say that South Africa was a springboard to contaminate the rest of the African continent by allowing multinationals to export from South African soil,” she told South Africa’s Business Report newspaper.
Many African countries are under increasing pressure to grow GM crops to tackle hunger and malnutrition, and drought in recent years has caused food shortages in Kenya.
Zimbabwe Farmers Calls for Planting of GMOs
– Sarah Ncube, The Zimbabwe Telegraph, Nov. 19, 2009 http://www.zimtelegraph.com
Zimbabwe – Harare – The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) has called on the Government to allow farmers to plant Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) maize seed so as to increase harvest and counter imports. In a telephone interview yesterday, the organisation’s vice president for administration Robert Marapira said GMO maize could be the short term solution to the country food shortages. “It is known that the country has over the past decade failed to harvest adequate maize to cater for the needs of the citizens hence we believe that the growing of genetically modified maize could be the counter measure especially taking into consideration that the Government has been spending millions of dollars in sourcing grain from outside the country,” he said.
Marapira said research had shown that a hectare of land planted with GMO seed could harvest 15 tonnes compared to natural seed, which rakes in only three tonnes. “GMO seeds mature faster than the natural seed and they need less water looking at a possibility of the country receiving less rainfall meaning that if such a thing was to occur the country would be guaranteed of a good harvest,” said Marapira.
He added that GMO maize could also be used as a way of countering imports that have flooded the local market. “The majority of food stuffs coming into the country are GMOs and paying particular attention to maize you would notice that South African maize is cheaper than local because production costs lesser meaning that most businesses and millers would prefer to buy from neighbouring countries a situation which would negatively affect farmers,” said Marapira.
Meanwhile various farmer organisations met to discuss challenges faced by farmers and strategies on how to effectively market their produce.