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Biotechnology News: Briefs


According to, Monsanto blames the failure of the three varieties of corn planted on these farms, in three South African provinces, on alleged 'underfertilization processes in the laboratory.' DuPont (Wilmington, Delaware, USA) and the Institute of Plant Protection of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (Beijing) have entered into a multi -year, exclusive research collaboration to improve in -plant insect control to help increase worldwide crop yields.

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									                                                                                     inform May 2009, Vol. 20 (5)                   305

  At the end of March,
                                             Biotechnology News
  reported that farmers in South Africa
  were negatively affected by 82,000
  hectares of Monsanto Co. (St. Louis,
  Missouri, USA) corn (maize) that failed
  to produce, or underproduced, seeds.
  Monsanto officials put the number of
  hectares at closer to 75,000 and con-
  firmed that they would “fully compen-
  sate farmers who experienced the
  reduction in pollination.” Accord-
  ing to, “Monsanto
  blames the failure of the three vari-
  eties of corn planted on these farms,
  in three South African provinces, on
  alleged ‘underfertilization processes
  in the laboratory.’ Some 280 of the
  1,000 farmers who planted the three
  varieties of Monsanto corn this year
  have reported extensive seedless corn
  problems.” Monsanto responded with
  the following: “In order to maximize
  seed production yields during 2007
  seed production, the male and female
  inbreds of these three hybrids [in ques-
  tion] were reversed. This process of
  reversing the male and female is a
  common practice in hybrid produc-          EU member states                              quoted British Green Member of European
                                                                                           Parliament Caroline Lucas:
  tion that existed before the advent
  of biotechnology. In this situation,       take action on GM                                  “Today’s decision by EU environ-
                                                                                           ment ministers is great news for the envi-
  the three hybrids produced using the
  same female inbred have experienced
                                             ban                                           ronment, farmers, and consumers—and
                                                                                           sets a good precedent for future cam-
  variable pollen production. Monsanto       In early March, European Union (EU) envi-     paigns against genetically modified crops.
  teams have reviewed the seed pro-          ronment ministers voted by a wide margin      For the many regions in the EU that have
  duction method for the three hybrids       in favor of allowing member states Austria    expressed doubts over GM technology,
  and will make the necessary changes        and Hungary to maintain their ban on genet-   today’s vote shows that it is still possible
                                             ically modified (GM) maize. The European      to be GM-free.”
  to ensure good pollinating hybrids in
                                             Commission (EC), the EU’s legislative arm,         A spokesperson for GM lobby group
  the future.” Monsanto plans to meet
                                             had sought for the ban on Monsanto Com-       EuropaBio disagreed.
  with each affected farmer over the
                                             pany-produced MON 810 to be lifted. Both           “[The] vote is a political sidestep that
  next two months.                           the EC’s scientific panel and the European    goes against the wishes of Europe’s farmers
                                             Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have found       who are increasingly demanding the choice reported in March that a        the GM maize to be safe.                      to grow biotech crops,” Nathalie Moll said
  study out of India found that use of            “[This] vote is a clear message that     in The Financial Times.
  Bt cotton seed lowered production          European countries will not be bullied into        Among the countries that decided to
  costs, boosted yields, and increased       taking unsound decisions regarding their      support Austria and Hungary in their bans
  income: “The cost of production [of]       environment, their farming, and their citi-   were Spain, Italy, and Germany. Germany’s
  a quintal, which went down by 11%          zens’ health,” The Financial Times quoted     Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted that country’s
  in 2005, was lower by 31% in 2006–         Helen Holder, coordinator for GMO (GM         environment minister, Siegmar Gabriel, as
  07, the study conducted by research-       organisms) for the environmental group        saying:
  ers at the Centre for Economic and         Friends of the Earth, as saying.                   “I cannot recognize the product from
  Social Sciences (CESS) said. The study,         Some government officials in the EU      Monsanto as added value for society … the
  done by N. Chandrasekhara Rao and          echoed this sentiment. Nongovernmental        company is forcing dependency on German
  S. Mahendra Dev, . . . covered the four    organization International Centre for Trade   farmers.”
                                             and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)
           continued on next page

MAY 09 INFORM.indd 305                                                                                                           5/14/09 8:38:04 AM
  cotton growing districts of Warangal,                                             306            inform May 2009, Vol. 20 (5)
  Guntur, Kurnool and Nalgonda. As per
  the survey, the cost of production had
  come down by 31% in 2006–07 from
                                                   The Financial Times reported that, in     Great Plains. Monsanto sai
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