03 December 2010

GMO Maize Weirdness

I went yesterday to buy a bag (50kg) of crushed mielies (corn, maize) for chicken feed, and was a bit peeved to see that the price has risen quite a bit since last month. This is in the face of a bumper maize crop in South Africa.

We're seeing headlines like, "S.Africa harvests biggest maize crop in 30 years" at the same time as reports that the USEuropean and Australian corn (and other grain) harvests have been smaller than normal. Should be good for SA farmers, no? Explains why the price is a little higher, no?

No! The trouble is that over 50% of maize planted in SA is one or other GMO variety, and Europe and Japan won't touch any South African maize as a result. Legislation in SA does not require separate handling or labelling for GMO varieties, so some of our biggest markets won't touch our glut of maize.

Simultaneously, and much related, we read that as many as 30% of SA's maize farmers face bankruptcy, as they struggle to find ready markets for all that GMO maize. As a result, "price of maize has fallen precipitously in the last 12 months". Really? Not seeing that, here...

The talking heads expect a significant backlash against GMO varieties from farmers. I hope so! Our government is so deep in Monsanto's pocket that mere mortals stand no chance of getting GMO varieties labelled, sorted or outlawed here. We must simply wait and rely on what goes around coming around, and in the present weirdness it seems it has.

But will farmers' memories stretch so far back come planting time?

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